H-SANTA MARIA

Aug 31, 2011 9:15 PM by Ariel Wesler

More people choosing cremation over burials

Consider it a part of the high cost of dying. Death is something many of us don't like to think about, but eventually, there's a decision to make--cremation or burial? Well, a growing number of people are choosing cremation and it's generally much less expensive.

"I've been coming out here 27 years," said Linda Reed of Santa Maria.

She lost her sister and brother-in-law when their Wings West commuter plane crashed in San Luis Obispo in 1984.

The accident happened two days after her birthday," Reed said. "I enjoy taking care of the stone and cutting back the grass."

Reed says visiting gives her peace of mind.

"Sometimes I just spend time out here just talking to her and I miss her and I feel closer to her when I come out here," she said.

But a rising number of people don't want their final resting places to be underground. Dollie Peralta wants to be cremated, like some of her family members.

"Their ashes have been spread out to sea and so what's nice about that is you can go to any beach or wherever you may be on a coast," Peralta said.

Nationwide, about 37 percent of people choose to be cremated but here in California, it's 50-50 and local funeral directors say that numbers continues to grow.

Cremations are growing about one percent annually. Dudley-Hoffman Funeral Home in Santa Maria says more than half of its clientele chooses cremation. For some, it's comes down to cost. Burials tend to be more expensive after choosing a plot and buying a casket.

Still no matter what you prefer, the decision is a personal one.

"You carry them in your heart anyway, so it doesn't really matter where they're at," Reed said. "They're always with you."

Burial costs are also on the rise. The Santa Maria Cemetery says it raises its fees by three percent each year to cover growing expenses.

The cemetery says it does have an option for people who want to bury their ashes in the ground.

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