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2020 Cremation Statistics: The Pandemic’s Effect

Take a look at the 2020 Cremation Statistics and how it has affected the funeral home industry, changed the cremation process, and even pushed crematoriums to their limits in some areas.
2020 Cremation Statistics

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The year 2020 started off normally, but then quickly took a turn that no one expected. That turn dramatically changed the cremation process, and even pushed crematoriums to their limits in some areas. 

Every year the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) tracks what’s happening in the funeral industry for both cremations and burials. The NFDA’s early estimates suggest that 2020 had an impact on end of life services, but some things were surprisingly steady.

Cremations Up, Burials Down

It should come as no surprise that cremations in 2020 were higher than previous years, and burials were lower. That’s been the case for a decade now. What may come as a surprise is that the rate of each remained steady last year. 

The NFDA estimates that the cremation rate in 2020 will be 56% while the burial rate will be 37.9%. That works out to be an increase of 8.1% for cremations since 2015. For burials it’s a 7.7% drop in the same timeframe. It’s remarkably similar to the rate changes between 2010 and 2015. During that time the cremation rate increased by 7.5%, and the burial rate dropped by 8.1%.

More Cremations Than Any Year on Record

The cremation rate may have increased at a regular rate, but there were far more cremations performed last year compared to previous years. It was the result of the increasing cremation rate and an increase in deaths from the pandemic. 

More than a week before 2020 ended the Associated Press reported that the year was the deadliest in U.S. history. For the first time ever, deaths surpassed 3 million. The reason for the surge? The COVID-19 pandemic.

Even before the year ended, experts projected that 3.2 million Americans would pass in 2020. That’s about 400,000 more deaths than an average year, which is a significant increase of 15% year-over-year. It was the largest increase in deaths since 1918 when another flu pandemic ripped through the U.S. 

Deaths often increase slightly each year, but in recent years deaths had been on the decline. Last year the average life expectancy went up by about three weeks. In contrast, the average life expectancy in 2020 will likely be three years lower than normal. 

At the end of 2020 there were 354,391 deaths from the coronavirus. It was far more than originally anticipated, and the clear cause for the surge in the mortality rate of 2020. Unfortunately, 2021 is on track to be even deadlier.

Simpler, More Intimate Funeral Ceremonies 

Before the pandemic, funeral ceremonies were already changing. However, recent events may accelerate changes in how funerals are conducted. 

Trends showed that pre-pandemic many Americans were opting for simpler funeral services and were more interested in highly personalized ceremonies. Previously, cost was one of the major factors. The viewing and memorial services typically cost over $2,500. That’s a third of the total cost for funeral services with burial. The cost of memorial services at a funeral home is still close to $2,000 with a traditional cremation. 

But cost wasn’t the only issue. Many people noted that they didn’t feel like a standard memorial gave them the experience and closure they were expecting. Most of the people felt that way because they thought the services were impersonal and run-of-the-mill. 

The pandemic has caused many families to forgo traditional memorials and viewings altogether. But contemplating how to handle the situation has gotten a lot of people to consider what they would want for themselves. Now that people are getting used to the idea of services being smaller, more intimate affairs that are held outside the funeral home, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the trend continue once the pandemic has run its course.

Navigating funeral services at any time can be challenging, but the pandemic has added a whole new level of stress. The team at Green Cremation Texas is here to answer your questions and help your family in any way we can. Call us 24/7 for assistance.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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