Bad economy causes rise in cremations

FRESNO, Calif.

In these tough times local experts say choosing between cremation and burial services is no longer an open and shut case. The traditional casket and cemetery burial is becoming too pricey for many.

"People are very price conscious and they definitely are looking at different options to keep prices down." Said Erlinda Valdez, General Manager of Wallin's Funeral Homes.

Valdez says her clients are now choosing the cheaper choice, cremation. Urns on average only cost a few hundred dollars. Caskets however range in the thousands. Valdez adds the number of cremations this year is almost double that from five years ago.

A report by the Cremation Association of North America shows that in 2003 -- 29.5% of people who died were cremated. In 2007 the number rose to 32%. By 2015 that number is expected to climb up to 44%.

"The sensitivity over the years has changed." Says Rabbi Robert Ourach of the Temple Beth Israel in Fresno.

He says sales of burial plots are steady and have even increased at the cemetery in West Central Fresno. But Ourach says that has a lot to do with their faith in Judaism and a low point in their history.

"Especially the Holocaust. And the whole notion of people and ashes and all of those images for a lot of people." Ourach said.

Valdez on the other hand says faith these days often gives way to dollars and cents when it comes to a loved one's final resting place.

"Where as the older folks had more of the loyalty and still wanting to stick to tradition, it's not as important to the younger generation anymore."

There are some places out there like Wallin's that offer reduced burial services at a lower cost. Valdez adds that more and more she's seeing people older in age preparing and paying for their own funerals.

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