Cremation rates on the rise, forcing cemeteries and funeral homes to adapt

More people are choosing cremation over burials, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The rate of cremation is over 50 percent for 2018, and is expected to increase to 80 percent by 2035. 

One cemetery manager said she notices the trend here in Rockford. 

"I’ve been here for two years, and in the last year itself I have seen an increase in cremation rates," Kirsten Spurlock from Scandinavian Cemetery said. "We do a lot more cremation burials than we do anything else these days."  

Spurlock said in the past, the cemetery would have around 15 burials a month, and now they do about 15 cremation burials a month and only 5 full burials.

"The roles have completely reversed," she said.

She said a lot of younger people are just sending cremations to the cemetery and surpass having a service, while older generations still want a full burial and full funeral service. 

Cemeteries have done mostly burials for the past few centuries, so this drastic change in preference has forced burial grounds to adapt. 

"We’ve created places in the cemetery, our cemetery specifically, for cremation burial only, and we are creating more spaces as we speak," Spurlock said.

Kristan McNames, the funeral director at Grace Funeral and Cremation Services said she believes the drastic increase in cremations is due to financial situations, and preference of the aging population, among other reasons. 

"People sometimes choose cremation because they are transient, they don’t know if they are going to spend the rest of their career or lives here in Rockford, and they still want to have their loved one’s remains in their possession," McNames said. 

Cremation also allows families to have delayed services, as well as save thousands of dollars on casket, vault and other burial expenses, McNames said.

Both funeral homes and cemeteries are starting to adapt to the new trends, which is something they haven’t had to do in centuries. 

"They typically have just had full burials for the past, we’ve been around since 1872 I think, and it has been straight full burials until now," Spurlock said. 

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