There was an eye-catching article in a recent issue of the NFDA’s The Director magazine which boldly declared the traditional funeral dead. And if you look at recent headlines — from both inside and outside the profession — it’s not exactly wrong.
Funerals are evolving. Today’s funeral directors must adapt to meet the needs of today’s families, as more are looking for alternative services to the traditional funeral.
What Does “Alternative” Mean?
When people talk about alternative funerals, it could mean a lot of things. Alternative is anything that’s not traditional. So it could be something as simple as adding more personalization to a service. Or alternative could mean something completely new, like having a three-hour funeral ceremony that ends with the cast of The Lion King singing the Circle of Life (that actually happened).
At the end of the day, an alternative funeral means whatever the deceased or the family wants it to mean.
Examples of Alternative Funeral Trends
Let’s look at the different types of alternative funerals that are becoming more popular.
Green: According to the NFDA, more than half of Americans (54%) are considering a green burial. On top of that, 72% of cemeteries are reporting an increasing demand for green burial options. At this rate, the green movement is set to make as big an impact as cremation on the future of the funeral profession.
High-Tech: While some families want simpler, greener funerals, others are opting for immersive, high-tech experiences. Some recent examples include multi-sensory video displays, virtual-reality memorials, and robot priests. And with the former CEO of Epcot entering the funeral profession, things are set to get even more high-tech in the coming years.
Celebration: Some funeral homes are distancing themselves from the idea of “traditional” altogether. You may have noticed the rise of “event centers” or “celebration centers.” These funeral homes have rebranded themselves to become the focal point of community celebrations. In addition to funerals, these event centers also celebrate baptisms, birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings.
How You Can Prepare
As you can see, funerals are evolving. It’s not a new notion. Funerals and how we mourn the dead have changed throughout time. We just happen to currently be in one of those societal transitions. As a funeral home, your goal should be to align your offerings to meet the preferences of not only today’s families — but for tomorrow’s families, too. Here’s how you can prepare for these new funeral preferences.
There are new changes occurring every day in the funeral profession. Stay up-to-date by following national organizations like the NFDA, ICCFA, and CANA. Set up Google Alerts to track major stories and new trends, or subscribe to a newsletter (like ours!). Enroll in continuing education courses or workshops to continue learning about the profession. There are a number of ways to stay informed, but it’s up to you to keep up-to-date on what’s happening around the profession.
Another way to stay prepared for the rise of alternative funerals is to network with leaders in the funeral profession. Use annual conventions and business conferences to meet with like-minded leaders and learn new skills.
Use Resources Available to You
Thanks to the internet, becoming a lifelong learner is easier than ever. And our team at Frazer Consultants is here to make it even easier. On our resources page, you’ll find a variety of free resources to help your funeral home not only stay informed but succeed in this changing era of funeral services. Our free resources include eBooks on a variety of topics important to you, social media kits to engage families, issues of The Meaningful Funeral magazine, and more!
How will your funeral home prepare for the rise of alternative funerals?