San Gabriel cemetery. Migue Fernández
Changing trends: Fewer burials and more cremations in Malaga province

Changing trends: Fewer burials and more cremations in Malaga province

It is Spanish province with the highest cremation volume against burials and one reason is the large foreign population on the Costa del Sol

Matías Stuber / Chus Heredia


Wednesday, 1 November 2023, 16:52


In Malaga province some 80% of deaths are followed by cremation where, after two hours at a temperature of 600C, the only thing left of the body is ashes. This is according to data from the National Association of Funeral Services (Panasef) provided to SUR and which places Malaga at the highest level nationwide. Secretary General Alejandro Quinzán said: “Malaga is the province with the highest cremation volume against burial.”

Data from Malaga city hall shows a similar trend: at the Parcemasa cemetery, 84.4% cremations and 15.6% burials were recorded until October 25; compared to 3,787 cremations, only 694 burials took place.

There are several factors that explain this increasingly pronounced trend. First, there is the cultural change that society has experienced in recent years. Religion has lost weight in decision making. Even many believers no longer hesitate to advocate cremation. Second, Malaga province, including the Costa del Sol, has a large foreign population. In many countries in central and northern Europe, cremation has always been a preferred option.

“Cremation is experiencing a boom. Andalucía has the largest concentration of cremation facilities in Europe. The region has 120. For example, Madrid, which has seven million inhabitants, has only 23 incinerators. In addition, in Malaga province there are many deaths of people that must be repatriated,” said the general secretary of Panasef.

Financial costs

The economic section is also an important factor. Nothing in life is free, not even death. A burial vault for for five years in Malaga will cost 249.30 euros next year. For 25 years, 738 euros with an insurance company; for 50 years, 1,346 euros, depending on the row. On the other hand, a grave for half a century will cost 2,548 euros. But if what is chosen is a family grave for five decades, the price rises to 3,145 euros.

The data from Parcemasa also sheds further light on the financial costs of this mandatory passage. For example, removing a pacemaker from a deceased person will cost 150 euros next year; the autopsy room, 156 euros, and an urn, 59 euros to 108 euros. There is also a service on offer in cemeteries throughout Spain of free psychological care for those family members who need help to cope with their loss. Parcemasa also has an ecumenical room, which is adapted for both non-Catholic religions and civil rites. Hiring it costs 52 euros. In Malaga 90% of funeral gatherings use it.

Another option to remember a loved one is with a tree in the cemetery. At the Garden of Remembrance in the San Gabriel cemetery family members can choose one that best represents the deceased. They will pay 1,800 euros if the tree is planted or 1,000 euros if it is already established. Due to its design and facilities, the Garden of Remembrance seeks to transcend its cemetery functions, to accommodate walkers, readers, or people just looking for some peace in the shade of a tree. There are 440 people remembered by trees, with the olive the favoured one for the scattering of ashes among its roots.

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