Trends to be aware of in funerals

A summary of a report by a funeral director and a Monument company owner

On Thursday, October 29, 2020 on a Zoom Elmhurst Rotary meeting we had an informative presentation by a funeral director and a Monument company owner about trends they have observed in their line of work.

  1. A major shift from burials towards cremations.  It used to be rather rare to have cremations but now it is close to 50/50 between burials and cremations.  It is surprising to many that cremations are not as inexpensive as they thought they would be.
  2. Those who elect to have a cremation almost never have thought through what to do with the cremains.  If the cremains are to be buried, they need to have a marker which essentially conveys the future message to not dig there.  If they are not to be buried, what is the family going to do with the cremains?  Contrary to myth, few put them on their mantel piece.  A closet is more common.
  3. Those who elect to have a burial rarely know the kinds of mandatory expenses they will face such as having to have a concrete enclosure for the casket, the grave site dug and then filled in after the burial.  Few have done the research needed before they see a funeral director and a monument provider.  Few realize the importance of having a monument to guarantee the burial site will not be disturbed.
  4. The nature of the religious commitment of those coming to funeral directors and monument companies has changed from the great majority being affiliated with a specific religion towards close to 50% non-affiliated.  The latter are looking usually to have a religious service but do not know how to arrange it.  So, the funeral director has to inform them of their options.  Most funeral directors have a short list of those who are going to provide a thoughtful service at a reasonable cost.  A significant number of the non-affiliated do not want a religious service; but wish to have some kind of service.  However, they do not know what their options are.  There still are religions that insist on there being no cremations such as the Eastern Orthodox, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews.
  5. A growing trend towards the majority thinking: It’s all about my convenience.  So many are adamant about having some kind of service; but not anything that would interfere with their existing commitments like a soccer match for one of their children.  These folks are ignoring the reality of death and the need for a grief process.  They do not want a funeral or memorial service to interfere with their existing commitments.  Many appear to have only a little commitment to honoring the family member that died.  Those folks do not provide support for the family that lost someone.  They will put off services of any kind until it is convenient.
  6. Few are aware that in many urban areas there is a growing lack of burial space. There are cities such as San Francisco that have no burial sites available.  Many cemeteries are going out of business for lack of income.  The U.S. is not yet to the stage of parts of Europe where burial space is rented, not owned.
  7. There are fewer and fewer monument providers.  Be sure to choose wisely.  There is also a trend of funeral homes going out of business.
  8. COVID has hit cemeteries hard with more bodies to bury than would be normal just as many hospitals lack sufficient space for patients especially in rural areas.