Cremation becoming a more common option for many in Minnesota

April 22, 2019 05:40 PM

The owner of a Minneapolis cemetery recently offered to give it to the city.  

Bill McReavy said he is losing money at Crystal Lake Cemetery, in part because the majority of Minnesotans are choosing cremation.  


The National Funeral Directors Association said about 67 percent of deaths in Minnesota this year will result in cremation. 

But people still want options. And when it comes to cremation, being environmentally friendly is a priority for many.

Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services was the first in Minnesota to offer green or water cremation to families. 

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"We meet a family and talk about the options available - whether that's burial or cremation," John Bradshaw said. "And then whether it's cremation by flame or by water." 

He said there are people who like the idea of using water instead of fire because it sounds more gentle.  

"The carbon foot print is about 75 percent less than with flame cremation, and there are no airborne mercury emissions," Bradshaw said.

"That's why we call it green cremation and why a lot of folks are really interested in it."

Scientifically, the process is called alkaline hydrolysis. It uses a mixture of chemicals and water to achieve the same results as traditional fire cremation.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester was first to use this method. And Minnesota was the first state in the country to officially approve the method.  

Now 19 states have followed suit.

Meanwhile, the shift in preference to fire or water cremation is impacting people who own and operate cemeteries. 

They make money on burial costs. McReavy and his family's cemetery has been in operation since 1890. But he recently told a Minneapolis City Council Committee that the cemetery has been losing about $300,000 a year for the last three years.  

The city wants to charge him an $80,000 street assessment. So he made a counter-offer.  

"If you would like to receive Crystal Lake cemetery as a gift from my family, we'll give it to you free of charge with documentation or sell it to you for a dollar," he said. "Whichever you like."

The city declined to take on the property. And McReavy said he is glad to keep operating the space - even if it is not profitable.  

But he feels an expensive assessment is too much to ask.  

"It's never going to make money" he said. "That's just a simple fact. With cremation the way it's gone, burial is an option today."

Cremation is typically less expensive than burial. The cost of green cremation and fire cremation is usually the same.  

McReavy runs more than the one cemetery. And as part of the Washburn McReavy operation, they do offer fire and water cremation. 

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Leah McLean

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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