We’ve heard all the buzz in the media about the rising costs of long-term care, but most fail to mention another unavoidable cost that’s also on the rise: funeral costs. With many people out of work and thus insurance, many say they can’t afford to get sick, but even worse, they can’t afford to die. NWITimes.com sums it all up nicely with a breakdown of average costs.
The average cost for a traditional funeral – including a wake, casket, and a cemetery burial – nationwide is $7,300. A cremation, on the other hand, averages less than half that: about $1,650 for a cremation and $1,500 to open and close a grave site. A good reason the number of cremations is on the rise, as opposed to more traditional burials. Today, more than two-thirds of all deaths (36%) result in cremation, a number that has risen 10 percent in the past 15 years. It’s expected to be as high as 44% by the year 2015.
Why don’t more people opt for cremation?
Looking at the statistics, cremation seems to make sense. So why don’t more people opt to be cremated when they die? For one, religious beliefs have played a part over the years. “Part of what we’re seeing is less religiosity and more spirituality and cremation allows a number of ways of memorialization,” John Ross, executive director of the Cremation Association of North America in Chicago said (per NWITimes.com). “Clearly, many religious denominations have changed their policies and reached the theologic position where cremation is seen as an appropriate and viable means of memorializing the dead.”
Cremation can also be more convenient for those who don’t spend their elder years where they grew up. For example, many retired couples opt to move to retirement communities in appealing climates, such as Florida. However, they may still desire to be laid to rest among family in their hometown. Cremated remains are a lot easier to transport than a body, especially if air travel is involved.
Making funeral and burial decisions can be overwhelming, particularly for individuals who have been stricken with a terminal illness and haven’t planned in advance. Families who opt for hospice care can receive funeral planning assistance from the hospice care team, and other families can seek the assistance of a geriatric care manager for help navigating the financial and logistical obstacles to funeral planning.
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