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Cremations on the rise

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Cremations on the rise
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If you've never thought about your final resting place, you might be surprised to learn that the average funeral costs over $6,000. Since 1990, the cost of a wake, service and burial has doubled. As our Katie Gibas reports, as the price for traditional funeral services continues to rise, more and more people are considering cremation as a more economical option.

UNITED STATES -- Fifty years ago, cremations were almost non-existent in the U.S.

"Cremation to most families was something that they just didn't go for. It just wasn't in their tradition. They wanted to keep the person intact. They wanted to bury the person. Some religions frowned on it," said Jan Maloff, the funeral director at A. DeWitt Memorial Funeral Home.

In 1985, fewer than 15 percent of people who died in the U.S. chose cremation. Now that number is over 40 percent. A large driving factor is economics.

"With the average cost of a funeral being well over $6,000, even to cut that cost in half, that's a big expense, especially with the economy today and people's view of that and how much they want to spend," said Kevin Mathewson, the funeral director at Cremation Services of CNY.

Maloff added, "We have people who value what they can leave behind for their descendants financially more than they value what they can be done for them at the time of funeral."

Besides economics, there's been a changing attitude in the U.S. that's more accepting of cremations and funeral directors have had to adapt to accommodate the increase.

"It helps people provide closure when they memorialize the person. So, this is why there's memorial services. This is why there's rental caskets now. People can have all the affects of a tradition funeral, with a lot less expense," said Maloff.

Experts say they anticipate the popularity of cremations will continue to increase.

"The more you see this generation turning to cremation, now you've got future generations seeing that as being a family choice," said Mathewson.

The Cremation Association of North America predicts that by 2017, cremation will surpass traditional burial.

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