CANA's Preliminary 2009 Cremation Statistics Report indicates that cremation's share of all funeral services in 2009 was 36.84 percent, up from 35.77 percent in 2008.
The figure was less than 20 percent in 1995 and has been increasing by nearly 1 percent a year for the past five years.
Nick French of French, Lawson-Miller and Schoppenhorst Funeral Homes and Crematory in Brazil and Clay City said he sees many reasons why more families are choosing cremation. He listed cost and convenience as two of those reasons.
"In today's economy, people find that cremation is a more affordable alternative to a traditional funeral service with burial," he said.
Cremation also gives families more convenience in scheduling services.
"Considering that families are increasingly geographically diverse, some families choose cremation as a matter of convenience," French said. "While traditional services are somewhat constrained to time, cremation can be scheduled at a time that is convenient for everyone in the family."
French said his funeral home's experience has been that families who choose cremation are grateful for the wide range of cremation options. These include having a visitation/funeral service before cremation or a memorial service following cremation; scattering the ashes at a place meaningful to the deceased; or placing them in keepsake jewelry or an urn to be kept at place of the family's choosing. For some families, cremation provides a simpler alternative to a traditional service.
"I think the general mobility of the population is another reason," French said. "Cremation lets a family transport a loved one's remains more easily when the death was far from home. Also, many religions are becoming more tolerant and are relaxing restrictions on cremation."
The French, Lawson-Miller, Schoppenhorst crematory is located at the Lawson-Miller location.
Lawson-Miller Crematory is a member of CANA, the national organization whose Code of Ethics guides members in the ownership and operation of their crematories to provide the best service possible.
According to CANA, a cremation provider should readily answer any and all questions consumers have, and it recommends consumers ask the following questions:
* Does the provider have its own crematory or does it work with a cremation firm? If the latter, which crematory does it use?
* Who owns the crematory facility?
* How often is it inspected?
* Are licenses and permits current?
* How many operators does it have and what type of training is required?
* Is it CANA certified?
* Does the crematory have liability insurance? And
* Does the crematory facility allow witnessing by family members?