I attended a webinar recently from CANA (Cremation Association of North America) on the new data and trends surrounding cremation in America, which has been rising steadily over the past 50 years. In 1960, only 3.7% of people chose cremation. In 2014, it was 47%. CANA projects that 50% of people in the US will be cremated by 2018.
The reasons for the sharp rise include cost, religious acceptance, geography (many people live away from their hometowns) and the range of options cremations offer, such as scattering and non-traditional ceremonies. In fact, funeral services remain a very important part of how Americans say goodbye—CANA reports that 94% of Americans who choose cremation do want some kind of funeral service.
There are also interesting numbers on what people are doing with the cremated remains after the funeral.
The percentage of people who chose to keep an urn at home rose 8% in six years (from 2004-2010), while the percentage of people who choose to scatter cremated remains fell by 15%. The categories do seem to be leveling out, which signals to me that people are aware of and give a lot of thought to the variety of options they have in memorializing their loved ones.
I’m very curious to see what these numbers will be in 2015 and hope that CANA continues to study this important aspect of cremation.