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Cremation vs Traditional Funerals in the United States

Recently, the landscape of end-of-life choices in the United States has seen a radical transformation. Traditional burial used to be the undisputed number one method for many Americans, thanks to long-held cultural norms. However, as societal values shift, economic pressures mount, and environmental awareness grows, more individuals and families are embracing cremation as the best way to say goodbye to their departed loved ones.

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Cremation Statistics in the U.S.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) 2023 cremation and burial report, cremation has become the preferred choice over burial in the U.S. The cremation rate is projected to be 60.5%, while the burial rate is just 34.5%. Cremation has come a long way, considering the rate was only 5.69% in 1975! The rate is expected to continue its meteoric rise, with a projected rate of 81.4% by 2045.

When Did Cremation Become Popular?

While cremation has been practiced for thousands of years in various cultures worldwide, its acceptance in the U.S. has been relatively recent. The first recorded cremation in the America occurred in 1876, but it remained a rare practice for many decades. The turning point for cremation came in the 1960s and 1970s, marked by social upheaval and changing attitudes towards authority and tradition. During this time, people began questioning established practices surrounding death and funerary customs. The environmental movement also started to take shape, drawing attention to the ecological impact of traditional burial methods. This growing awareness of sustainability and conservation further contributed to the acceptance of cremation. By the 1980s and 1990s, cremation had become increasingly mainstream. Advancements in cremation technology, the rise of secularism, and the desire for more personalized and cost-effective end-of-life arrangements all played a role in its growing popularity.

Why Does Cremation Continue to Grow in Popularity?

There are several reasons why cremation is growing in popularity. Here are three primary reasons:


Traditional burials require extensive resources and services, making them much more costly than cremation. For instance, the body must be prepared for the funeral service by going through an embalming process ($845 on average), cosmetology/grooming/dressing ($295 on average), and being placed in a burial casket ($2,500 on average). The national median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and burial is approximately $9,995!

On the other hand, cremation services don’t require the body to undergo an elaborate preparation process—unless families prefer to have a viewing before the service. In most cases, families choose to have a direct cremation. The average cost of a direct cremation in the United States is $2,185. Instead of a burial casket, families can choose from a wide range of elegant cremation urns and keepsakes to tastefully and affordably honor their loved ones.


As climate change threatens our existence, sustainable, environmentally friendly practices are more important than ever. Traditional burials need lots of land to contain the metal or hardwood caskets of the departed. These types of caskets do not break down easily in the ground, nor do they come from sustainable sources. Also, traditional burials use embalming fluids to preserve bodies. Embalming fluids contain several dangerous carcinogenic compounds, such as formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol. Funeral homes across the United States use hundreds of thousands of gallons of these chemicals each year, seeping into our environment.

With cremation, no harsh chemicals or large caskets are disrupting the land. Instead, families can memorialize their loved ones by planting a bio urn made of sustainable, eco-friendly materials. With The Living Urn®, you can plant your lost loved one’s cremains along with a special tree of your choice to grow a living memorial! This moving tribute will allow your loved one to help sustain the environment for years while bringing peace and solace to your grieving heart.


With traditional burials, the immediate need for funeral arrangements can put a lot of pressure on grieving families. For instance, it can be challenging to decide on the best place to lay a departed loved one to rest in such a short amount of time. Also, some family members may have a difficult time making the appropriate travel arrangements to accommodate an immediate service.

Cremation allows families the flexibility and freedom to create a memorial service at any time. Cremated remains can be preserved in an urn of their choosing until the time feels right to celebrate the life of the departed formally. Whether the ashes remain in an indoor urn indefinitely, are lovingly committed via a scattering ceremony, placed in a biodegradable urn for burial, or divided among family and friends in special memorial keepsakes, there are several beautiful ways to honor a loved one.

Explore Cremation Urn Options from The Living Urn

The Living Urn® is America's first and leading bio urn and planting system designed to grow a beautiful, enduring memory tree with cremated remains. With over fifty tree and shrub types in our award-winning nursery, we can help you find the perfect tree for your region. From sustainably sourced biodegradable urns to elegant cremation jewelry pieces and more, The Living Urn offers special and unique cremation urn options to help you honor your departed loved one respectfully and tastefully. Visit our store today to explore the many ways you can hold your lost loved one in eternal remembrance!


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