The trend towards cremation as a method of disposition of the deceased is proving to be less of a “trend” and more of a growing change in attitude across North America. The word “trend” implies that it is fleeting and that it will change, but perhaps we need to revisit this term when referring to cremation and see this change for what it truly is, a “transition”, implying permanence. Perhaps then, cemetery boards and management will be able to plan with greater confidence creating alternative interment options as cremation fast becomes “the new normal”. By researching the local cremation statistics and comparing the various costs of interment, cemetery boards may be less intimidated by the initial investment of designing and planning a columbarium garden and will see this as exciting new opportunity to develop the cemetery landscape. The return on investment can be rewarding if management focuses on providing appealing, high quality interment options for the cremation customer.


The west coast province of British Columbia, Canada has been on the cutting edge of this change for decades. According to B.C. Vital Statistics from 1986 to 2009 the cremation percent increased from 60.4 % to 80.7%. Within a short period of time, funeral homes and cemeteries adapted to this 20% increase by creatively meeting the needs of the cremation customer. Recognizing the importance of providing families with alternative interment options, municipal and private cemeteries invested in their properties and built elaborate and innovative columbaria that were designed to: attract attention, enhance their cemetery landscapes, increase their revenues and ultimately meet the needs of their communities. BC cemeteries were, for many years, outliers in this field as they focused on creating innovative columbaria gardens to meet the new cremation demand.

In the United States, this trend towards cremation is following a similar pattern. The National Funeral Directors Association (based out of Brookfield Wisconsin) represents the worlds largest funeral service association. They too are drawing attention to this similar transition in their latest “2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report”. Their statistics reveal a similar change in attitude towards cremation. In 2005 the rate of cremation to burials was 32.3% to 61.4%. By 2015 the cremation rate surpassed burials 48.5% to 45.4%. Their projections for cremation in 2020 will be 51.6 % and in 2030 cremation rates are predicted to increase to an astounding 71.1%.

This trend towards cremation in America is actually a fascinating social shift that cannot be ignored. Sticking one’s head in the sand and hoping that things will return back to the way things were, is not a good strategy in this case. Cemeteries are realizing that this is the time for action.

The question now remains, how is your cemetery adapting to this transition?

Providing for the cremation customer wanting above ground interment options now requires, financial planning in order to provide an attractive, high quality columbarium. Although in ground burial and scattering continue to be cremation interment options, these traditional forms don’t often appeal to families who continue to hold onto the cremains of loved ones in hopes of finding a more meaningful place of interment.

Building an appealing columbarium garden setting may seem like a daunting process but with solid research, a little planning and a choosing a reputable columbarium manufacturer in the industry, cemetery management will be able to set the stage with confidence that they are not moving with a trend, but embracing the future.

Call a custom columbarium manufacturer who will have your best financial interest at heart. Ask about strategies for creating a financial plan. Raise your expectations and imagine how the cemetery landscape could attract attention with a beautiful custom columbaria garden.