Keepsake options by
the company Legacytouch on display at Cesarz Charapata &
Zinnecker Funeral Home in Waukesha. Michael Palmisano,
funeral director and manager, said memorial keepsake
lines have been expanding in recent years.
Eileen Schmidt/Special to
BROOKFIELD — Driven by factors like economic and
environmental concerns, flexibility of options and
changing religious requirements, cremation is on the
The national cremation rate is expected to increase by a
third in the next 20 years, according to the 2018
Cremation and Burial Report, recently released by the
National Funeral Directors Association. The association
is headquartered in Brookfield, with an office in
Washington, D.C., according to a news release.
The report projected the 2018 cremation rate at 53.5
percent and burial rate at 40.5 percent, and the
expected growth will bring the cremation rate to nearly
80 percent by 2035, according to a release from the
At Shimon Funeral Home in Hartford, Kacey Neinstedt said
staff has been witness to the growing number of
cremations in the last four or five years.
“The popularity has definitely increased,” said
Neinstedt, a funeral director at Shimon, where she said
the numbers are about evenly divided between cremations
“Within the next 10 years, it will be over that,” said
Neinstedt, referencing to the growing number of
Urns on display at
Cesarz Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home in Waukesha.
Cremation rates nationwide are expected to reach close
to 80 percent by 2035, according to the 2018 Cremation
and Burial Report, recently released by the National
Funeral Directors Association.
Eileen Schmidt/Special to
imagination is pretty much the limit’
For some, the choice is about economizing.
“It is a little more cost effective to have a cremation.
If people don’t have cemetery property, that can be a
rather expensive cost,” said Michael Palmisano, location
leader and funeral director at Cesarz Charapata &
Zinnecker Funeral Home in Waukesha.
But more than cost concerns, he said families are
finding that they like the diversity of options
“With a burial, there’s only one option, being buried in
a cemetery. With cremation, your imagination is pretty
much the limit,” Palmisano said. “You can be set into a
canister and blasted into outer space, you can be set
down in a coral reef and pretty much anything in
At Cesarz Charapata & Zinnecker, a variety of urns are
on display featuring different colors and imagery. While
families can bring in their own urns, many like to
purchase them directly through the funeral home,
He pointed out several wooden urns offered made by a
Mukwonago-based cabinet maker.
“There is uniqueness to these pieces, as a human being
is unique. No two pieces are ever the same,” Palmisano
said. “He leaves a lot of knots in the wood, a lot of
the imperfections. That’s where a lot of the beauty is.”
Also growing in popularity are memory glass and keepsake
creations offered by companies that incorporate cremains
or fingerprints of a loved one, according to Palmisano.
“It allows the family to have something tangible to hold
onto,” he said.
Changing religious beliefs have also played a role in
the cremation trend, Palmisano said.
“It wasn’t until recently, within the last couple of
decades, that the Catholic Church found cremation an
acceptable form of disposition,” said Palmisano. He
added that some religious traditions do not approve of
The option to have a full funeral service and viewing
before cremation may also be influencing the trend. It
was an end-of-life approach chosen by about 28 percent
of families in 2016, according to the NFDA report.
Cremation can afford scheduling and memorial options to
families spread across wider geographic areas, Palmisano
“Maybe your roots are not quite as deep as they would
have been in previous years,” he said.
Others have chosen to wait for a memorial or burial
until a date of personal significance.
“We did have a family that waited seven-and-ahalf months
to lay (their) mom to rest on her wedding anniversary,”
And with more transient families, Palmisano noted some
of a loved one’s cremains can be buried at their home
and others with children or in other places of
While cremation rates are rising nationwide, burial is
still the leading choice in southern states, the NFDA
Meanwhile, northern states are expected to far surpass
the 50 percent cremation rate before 2035. Wisconsin is
among 12 states projected to have a cremation rate of
over 80 percent by 2030, the report said.
In light of these changes, funeral homes are looking for
the best ways to accommodate families, according to
“We constantly talk about within the field,” she said.
At Shimon, the staff emphasizes the venue and event
planning services they can provide, along with
In Wisconsin, a cremation must follow several legal
steps, according to Palmisano, including the issue of
cremation permits from the county, obtaining a signed
death certificate from a doctor, authorization by legal
next of kin, and the passing of a 48-hour waiting
Both Neinstedt and Palmisano emphasized the importance
of discussing family plans for end of life, whatever
those choices may be.
“Letting people know whether you want to be cremated or
not, or have a viewing or not can go a long way,”
“That little piece of information alleviates so much
stress for your family.”
For more information about NFDA, visit