The Funeral Service Association of Canada claim to be “seeing an emergence of a preference for non-traditional and very simple funerals….with an increased number of cremations performed each year.” Mount Pleasant cemetery in London, Ontario has reported that for the first time they have seen the rate of deaths cremated rising above 50 percent.
So why is cremation on the increase? Most in the industry would claim that the primary reason is cost. Whereas a traditional funeral with burial can amount to a total cost in the region of $10,000, a simple cremation can start at around $1,200. People who are opting for cremation are now just thinking practically. The economic recession and a more practical, as opposed to sentimental, approach to arranging a funeral has resulted in families opting for less traditional, and more conventional and simple solutions. When it comes to money, many are realizing that extravagance on a funeral does not necessarily make it any more dignified and befitting than a simple personalized memorial. This trend could also be considered an aspect of a cultural shift in societies attitude to death. Other cultural shifts in attitude are influencing this trend – the current environmental agenda has encouraged more people to question the eco-benefits of burial, especially when a deceased has been embalmed. Not only that, but burial plots in metropolitan areas especially, are becoming expensive as availability becomes limited.
In addition, many families are choosing to arrange a more contemporary memorial service following a cremation. This means that the time-critical process in arranging a funeral is mitigated. Families can arrange the cremation and gather family together at a time and place that is befitting to conduct a suitable memorial to their loved one. In many instances this avoids the traditional notion of a chapel-led ceremony, and instead may be held at a place of significance to their loved one. This may involve an ash-scattering memorial or some other special tribute.
Although these cultural trends may have influenced this rise in the cremation rate, most in the industry acknowledge that cost is certainly the key factor. The question remains as to whether this trend is likely to change if, and when, the economy improves?