One change that’s shaking up the funeral profession is the emergence and growing popularity of alternative burial and funeral options. Fewer families want a traditional funeral service with embalming. Instead, families are interested in cremation, environmentally friendly options, funeral personalization, and even home funerals.
However, change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. When faced with change, we tend to focus on the negatives, but it’s important to consider the positives, as well. In cases where change is out of our control, like with families’ funeral preferences, this mindset is crucial for your funeral home to remain successful.
Let’s dig deeper into these alternative burial and funeral options and how your funeral home can make the most of them.
The New Normal: Cremation
Cremation is no longer an alternative burial option; it’s the disposition of choice. According to the 2019 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report, they predict that the national 2020 cremation rate will be 56.4% and only 37.5% for burial. By 2040, they predict the cremation rate will be almost 80% compared to only about 15% for burial.
It may seem like 2040 is far away, but it’s really only 20 years from now. Many funeral directors will have to face these changes during their time in the funeral profession, especially the younger ones.
The key to making the most of cremation is reminding families of the meaning behind having a funeral service. Cremation doesn’t have to be just direct cremation and that’s it. Encourage them to have a visitation prior to the cremation and have a funeral service. They also can have a burial ceremony for the cremated remains or an ash scattering ceremony. If you incorporate aspects of traditional burials into cremation along with new traditions, you can find new ways to boost your bottom line.
Saving the Environment: Green Burials
As you know, burial and cremation aren’t the only players. With a growing concern for the environment brings about people wanting more eco-friendly burial options. The 2019 NFDA Consumer Awareness and Preferences Survey found that more than half of the survey respondents are interested in green funeral options.
Green funeral options are a win-win situation for everyone. Your funeral home has more service offerings, families have more options, and it helps the environment. There also are many different types of green burials so your funeral home has a lot of options.
Personally, I like the idea of a biodegradable burial pod that turns into a tree. It’s a way for me to help the environment and give animals the resources and shelter they need. It’s also a way for my memory to live on and provide my loved ones with a meaningful spot to visit.
Personalization and Non-Religious Funerals
The NFDA survey also found that people aren’t as religious as they used to be. When asked if having a religious component to the funeral was very important, only 35.4% said yes — which is down from almost 50% in 2012.
However, through various funeral personalization ideas, you can still cater to those who are non-religious. For example, suggest funeral service locations other than a church, like your funeral home or a local community center. For the ceremony, recruit a celebrant to help create a unique celebration of life, such as with an outdoor releasing ceremony or tree-planting ceremony. When it comes to funeral personalization, the opportunities are endless, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.
Another trend that isn’t really new but that’s on the rise is home funerals. Families used to care for their deceased loved ones at home, and families are getting back to this idea. There are many reasons for this desire, such as wanting to be more connected to deceased, more control over funeral planning, and not being as religious.
However, a home funeral doesn’t mean that a funeral director doesn’t need to be involved. For example, you can offer to handle caring for the body, completing the death certificate and other necessary paperwork, transporting the body to the burial location, and providing grief resources and memorialization ideas.
Future Alternative Burial and Funeral Trends
By the time 2040 comes around, who knows what other end-of-life options will be popular. With more states legalizing alkaline hydrolysis, also known as water cremation, it could become as popular or even more popular than “traditional” cremation. And, let’s not forget about rising green burial options, like human composting.
At the end of the day, it’s about your client families’ wants and needs, not yours. So, instead of seeing these alternative burial and funeral options as negatives, consider all the positives mentioned above. You can learn more about alternative burial options by downloading our free eBook!
What are your thoughts on alternative burial and funeral options? Share them with us in the comments!