society is an organization, made up of members, who through their membership
ensure their future cremation wishes are met. Society members usually
pay a subscription fee to become a member and can either preplan and prepay
their cremation, or merely pre-register. In some states, state law
allows funeral business to use "society" as a trading name, although no
membership is required. In New York state, the use of the term "society"
is prohibited for use by funeral businesses.
Why choose cremation?
Cremation is gaining popularity
as a preferred choice as an alternative disposition method for Americans
today. It is anticipated that towards the end of the first quarter
of the 21st century cremation will account for more dispositions than burials
in the U.S. There are numerous reasons cited for why people choose
cremation but the main reasons have been recorded as:
Mobile populations – ease of
transport to distant interment/scattering sites
Cold weather limitations for
How does a Cremation Society
differ from a Crematory or Cremation Company?
A cremation society can either
be a nationwide organization, a statewide or local area organization.
The suggestion of a ‘society’ connotes the membership element, and also
implicitly suggests a group of people “united by common political and cultural
traditions, beliefs or values”. 1 The word society is defined as “an organization
or club formed for a particular purpose or activity”.2
Many people join a cremation
society believing it is an altruistic type of organization facilitating
the pre-planning of a cremation at a discounted price. Indeed many
independent cremation societies offer a special discounted rate for members.
The Neptune Society
and National Cremation Society are corporate cremation societies
operated by Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest
corporate funeral company in the United States. SCI also recently
purchased the Cremation Society of Virginia as part of a deal buying
Funeral Home in Virginia.
A crematory or cremation
company does not generally accept members, although many will offer the
option to preplan a cremation, just as a cremation society does.
Some funeral homes operate
a crematory on-site, whereas others use the services of a local crematory.
In some states there are crematories that are not funeral homes, and will
not deal with the general public, but contract to local funeral homes who
use their services.
What services does a Cremation
A cremation society basically
offers you the opportunity to preplan your cremation disposition arrangements,
helping you to ease the burden of the decision-making process for surviving
family. Many cremation societies offer cremation packages, and these
can range from basic direct cremation packages to full memorial service
cremation packages. You can opt for a simple cremation or you can
choose to customize your arrangements.
How much does it cost to join
a Cremation Society?
The fee for membership
of a cremation society can vary. Generally fees are between $25.00
and $50.00 for an individual membership, or between $50.00 and $100.00
for a family membership.
What are the benefits of joining
a Cremation Society?
The benefit of joining a cremation
society is that you can pre-arrange your cremation, and in some cases you
can benefit from special cremation package rates offered by cremation societies.
Do bear in mind though, that many Mom and Pop funeral homes or cremation
providers, can also offer similar services often at similar rates.
It is always wise to check the prices quoted by a cremation society against
the equivalent prices quoted for cremation by other local cremation providers.
What can be the disadvantages
of joining a Cremation Society?
As I have mentioned above, not
all cremation societies are altruistic organizations with the sole interests
of serving their membership, some cremation societies are operated by national
corporations with shareholders. If you find a cremation society that
clearly provides a more affordable cremation alternative, then there is
no disadvantage to joining. If you are paying an initial membership
fee, this usually weights against the cremation price secured for members.
Sometimes cremation societies
may offer special resources for members to help with planning a cremation,
however, you will often find that these resources are in the public domain
and freely available on the Internet. You also need to check whether
you are locked in to the cremation society, and what happens if you move
areas, or wish to transfer or cancel your cremation plan.
How does a Cremation Society
differ from a Memorial Society?
A memorial society may offer
similar membership services to a cremation society. In some cases
a memorial society offers burial as well as cremation, but similarly secures
a ‘locked-in’ price for members. In some states memorial societies
were established as a co-operative of funeral homes that would all agree
to offer a fixed price for an immediate burial or basic cremation to members
of the memorial society.
As the cremation rate continues
to increase in the U.S., we will see more funeral businesses adopt the
terminology in their marketing. The laws pertaining to the conduct
of funeral and cremation businesses vary by state, and each state licensing
board has different statures that govern how a funeral business can operate.
It is therefore very wise to carefully check the credentials of any cremation
society, and establish if you are dealing with a national corporation,
a local funeral business or a not-for-profit society organization.
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Memorials – Network of low cost cremation providers
1 Wikipedia ‘use of society
as a term’
2 Definition of ‘society’
Buys Nelsen Funeral Homes and the Cremation Society of Virginia