This is the first part in a series of posts that explores the primary reasons behind the increase in cremations across the U.S.
Migration refers to how people are moving around the country. People can migrate within their immediate metro, within the state or across state lines. The latest data shows that family members are living further apart, and that’s having an influence on cremation. Keep reading to find out what kind of effect a more migratory population is having.
Families Living Further Apart Brings Cremation Closer to Home
Physical separation is one of the top reasons why people choose cremation. A century ago families lived much closer together. You’d often see family burial plots or families buried on shared personal property because everyone, including the extended family, was nearby and took part in the funeral services.
Today, America is a nation of transients. On CNN’s Margins of Error podcast, the host Harry Enten delved into why cremation is becoming more common. His guest, Seattle funeral home owner and director Jeff Jorgenson, noted that migration is a major factor that’s almost as important as financial and environmental reasons for choosing cremation. It’s also why cremation rates are higher in some parts of the country than others.
The U.S. Census Bureau has found that over a quarter of American adults (28%) don’t live in or near their hometown. That means one in four people could realistically find themselves out of state when a relative dies.
Recent migration numbers suggest this trend could be slowing though. Fewer people moved during the COVID pandemic, and more young adults moved back in with their parents. In 2020, 52% of 18-29 year olds lived with one or both of their parents. That’s the highest percentage on record. However, only time will tell if this has a long-term effect on migration and ultimately cremation rates.
For some families the choice to use cremation is mostly logistical. If a family member passes away in another state it’s difficult to make funeral arrangements that require you to transport the body long-distance. It’s an expensive, time consuming endeavor that could lead to embalming in order to preserve the body for longer.
Cremation is a much simpler, more convenient option that can be done where the death occurred. The cremains can then be shipped to any location.
This is a big reason why Nevada, Arizona and Florida are states with high cremation rates. Those are states where a lot of older people snowbird for the winter and retire in their golden years. When they pass they could be hundreds or thousands of miles away from a sibling or child that’s next of kin.
When people are physically separated they are less likely to take part in family traditions, including funeral traditions. The declining number of family burial plots is a good example. Less emphasis on tradition has made the decision to choose cremation easier for some families that don’t feel obligated to go with burial simply because it’s what has been done in the past.
Cremation allows families to create new traditions, especially for memorials or how the cremains are used. In fact, when the family is spread out a traditional memorial may be hard to arrange in a matter of days. Having a memorial after the cremation gives everyone time to prepare to travel.
If you’re interested in learning more about direction cremation take a look at the blog or contact us by phone for personal assistance.