For the first time the number of cremations in Wisconsin surpasses burials. A state Health Department report shows 47 percent of deceased people in 2011 ended up being cremated, 46 percent were buried.
James Olson with Lippert-Olson Funeral Home in Sheboygan is spokesperson for the national funeral directors association. “A lot of people think that cremation is driven by cost, and I would say that is actually lowest on the list of reasons why families choose cremation. Cremation can be a less expensive alternative,” but he says, “They’re choosing it for lifestyle choice.”
Olson says it’s easier for people to choose cremation right away and then plan a memorial for a later time. Cremation is not necessarily an environmental choice. “Right now we’re seeing that the environment is not playing a huge part of it because in its nature cremation is not a green or natural method of disposition. Cremation does put out emissions and it does use a fossil fuel to do it.”
The Catholic church has accepted cremation as an option, which has led to a rise in families choosing this method.
While more Wisconsinites are choosing cremation, the Badger State is not among the top ten in the nation to opt for ashes. In 2010, over 73 percent of deaths in Nevada went with cremation. Mississippi had the lowest rate, at just under 14 percent. The report shows 6.5 percent had their bodies entombed and just above 1/2 percent were donated. Olson says about 2 percent of the population is choosing a more natural type of burial.
The report released on Tuesday detailed causes of deaths and death rates in 2011 in Wisconsin. As in previous years, the two leading causes of death in 2011 were heart disease and cancer. These two causes of death accounted for 47 percent of total deaths among Wisconsin residents.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:47