The funeral industry has seen a remarkable trend in the surge of direct cremations. This process, also referred to as a “no ceremony cremation,” “basic cremation,” or “simple cremation” is swiftly becoming the chosen method for final disposition of the deceased in the United States.
Direct cremation comes soon after death and is carried out either at a crematory or within a funeral home with a crematorium. According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), 41% of cremations in 2022 were classified as direct cremations, indicating a significant tilt towards this option.
“With the anticipated significant increase in the percentage of cremations over the next 20 years, our role as funeral directors is more important than ever to help families navigate the planning process and discuss all available options when it comes to end-of-life matters,” said NFDA President Jack Mitchell.
An additional 35% of people opted for direct cremation followed by a memorial ceremony. Traditional cremation with prior funeral services was the preference for only about 24% of the populace.
With the U.S. cremation rate projected to rise from 60.5% in 2023 up to 81.4% by 2045, according to the NFDA 2023 Cremation and Burial Report, it’s clear that cremation is becoming a dominant choice amongst Americans.
The NFDA believes that the following factors could be driving the rise in cremation:
- Cost considerations
- Environmental concerns
- An increasingly transient population
- Changing consumer preferences
- Fewer religious prohibitions against the practice
Some distinct reasons individuals gravitate towards no-frills direct cremation include:
- Direct cremation is typically the least expensive option.
- There’s no need for a costly casket as the body is generally cremated in a simple container.
- There is no requirement for embalming the body if there’s no service before the cremation.
- Cremated remains are usually kept by family members or friends, negating the need for cemetery plots and headstones.
- The body only needs to be transported to the crematorium, reducing transportation costs.
- Funeral homes provide a minimal container for the cremated remains, but loved ones can also purchase decorative urns.
While some people may find traditional funerals somber, the flexibility of planning a memorial or celebration of life service after cremation can provide a more uplifting mood. These celebrations can be scheduled days, weeks, or even months after the cremation. They can take place anywhere significant to the deceased, like a family home, a favorite pub or even a minor league baseball stadium.
Direct cremation offers the convenience of handling all these details without the need for a service at a funeral home or place of worship.