Cremation Becomes Our New Way To Go

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
According to a recent National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) report, the cremation rate in the U.S. was projected to be 53.5 percent and the burial rate 40.5 percent in 2018. In fact, stated that cremations have been shown to be more popular than traditional burials since 2015, and that cremations are projected to reach 80 percent by 2035. One main reason is because they are usually less expensive.
“Funerals are getting more expensive, and of course funerals are not tax free either,” said Cristin Fox, Director of Fox Funeral Home in Cole Camp. “However, with the large Lutheran population in our town, we see more burials than cremations. The Bible tells about Moses being buried, not burned, and they want to follow that example. But, for out-of-towners there are a lot of cremations. I try to offer the same price for burials as for cremations. A cremation is sometimes convenient for family members who want two services, one in town and one out of town. A viewing and service can be held in town before a cremation takes place, or a service can take place with the presence of the urn of ashes. Then, the ashes can be transported by the family to the out-of-town site for the second service.”
Fox said that he and other members of a funeral home group use a crematory in Versailles for cremations so that they are away from residential areas.
There are three ways to put a body to rest: burial, cremation or medical donation. Jim Miller, with Reser Funeral Home, reports that he has had requests for all three, and that the number of cremations and burials are about the same.  He said that medical donations are often handled by hospitals or hospice, and that these donations end up with a cremation and the presentation of the ashes to the family. Reser Funeral Home has its own Kaysinger Crematory located on property it owns on Truman Dam Access Road.
“Having our own crematory allows us to cremate right away without allowing for travel time out of town,” said Miller. “And we don’t have to wait until a week day if a death occurs on a weekend and a crematorium is closed. The state requires paperwork from us after a death that causes it to take about 24 hours to return the ashes to the family. We provide a wooden urn for the cremains that can be buried, or if they are to be scattered, there is a screw on the bottom of the urn that can be turned to release a sliding door. If the family prefers, we have a variety of other different urns.”
Miller said that the funeral home’s job is to inform family members of options available to them. Traditionally, there will be a viewing, funeral service and trip to the cemetery during a burial. 
With a cremation, these events can still take place. Or, there can be a service before or after the cremation, and a private or public trip to the cemetery.  Some people will scatter the ashes at a location that was special to the deceased such as a vacation spot, hunting territory or at sea. (Some funeral homes even offer jewelry that holds ashes, and there are artisans who can include ashes in sculpture or mix them with a glaze that is used on ceramic designs such as coffee mugs.)
Miller said that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has oversight on air quality from the crematorium, and that the funeral home is subject to spot inspections.
The reasons for cremations are not only the money angle. Some people are worried about the environmental impact of burials (chemicals from embalming), and about land use, although Miller said that land use is not a critical issue in the Midwest. Two local residents expressed differing views about their final resting places.
“I plan to be cremated,” said Lenora Ogden. “I’m no longer going to be here anyway, and I don’t want to cost my family the price of a burial. Besides, a burial takes up space.”
Gary Smith said that he had already made and paid for plans to be buried.
“I never had a hankering to be burned,” said Smith. “I have had friends and relatives that were cremated, and the general consensus was that it was wrong. However, plans were already in place. The decision had already been made.”
The trend to cremate has been increasing since religious guidelines have softened to the idea. According to a Wall Street Journal article published March 30-31, the Catholic Church gave its official permission to cremate in 1963. However, guidelines that came with that permission stated that the ashes could not be scattered, but should still be buried in sacred ground, like a church cemetery. The article also stated that more than half of American Jews are now leaving behind the traditional Jewish prohibition against cremation. 
Cremation rates are still low in the south and southeast U.S. However, the state of Washington boasts the country’s highest cremation rate at 76.4 percent followed closely by Nevada, Oregon, Hawaii and Maine. However, in Japan, 99 percent of the dead are cremated.
Basic cremation is available at Reser Funeral Home for $1,530. This includes basic services of the staff for the cremation, standard removal from the place of death, and cremation expenses at the Kaysinger Crematory. Cremation with Memorial Service is $2,325, and Cremation with Funeral Service is $4,375.