Business is Cooking at Local Crematories. Thank the Recession

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If things keep going the way the are, gravediggers will have to find something else to do with their shovels. As the recession deepens, families in increasing numbers, according to the National Funeral Directors Association, are taking their dead to crematoriums -- just another way of cutting back amid the gathering economic gloom.

"Why just today, I had a family call me from a funeral home. They told me they didn't have the money for a burial and asked about our cremation services. I told them and they said they'd be right over," said Tim Cusick, general manager of St. Louis Cremation. "Yep, recession or not, people are still dying, and it's starting to get too expensive for families to bury them."

Cusick said business has spiked 20 percent over the past year, adding that "we had a very, very busy February."

In the St. Louis area the average burial cost ranges between $8,000 to $10,000, while the cremation fee, which includes transporting the body, the urn and a copy of the death certificate, hovers between $1,000 and $1,200.

At another crematorium in St. Louis, a funeral director who asked to remain nameless, said, "I can't believe how many people say that just don't have the money for a funeral or they don't have insurance to pay for it. You gotta believe these days that people are spending less for their dead."

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