5 Funeral Trends that are changing death care traditions as we know them

Funeral & Cremation Trends 2024

The funeral industry is experiencing an era of change in the 21st century.  It is probably the most seismic change the death care business has experienced for over two centuries.  A once very traditional and stoic industry is being affected by shifts in consumer demand. So, what funeral trends are happening?  And how are they affecting funeral homes and funeral consumers?

Funeral & Cremation Trends 2018

#1  The demand for affordable cremation

Cremation has soared in popularity in the last ten years and, in the last three years, has moved to become the preferred option for the majority of Americans, with the cremation rate reaching 60.1% last year and set to reach 80% by 2030, according to Cremation Association of North America (CANA).

Although some families choose cremation with a funeral or memorial service, the demand for direct cremation as a simple, no-fuss, and affordable funeral alternative makes up the core of the cremation business.

Providers in the DFS Memorials Affordable Cremation Network report that up to 80% of cremation cases they handle are now direct cremation cases.

#2  An interest in eco-friendlier funeral alternatives

There appears to be a growing interest (especially in certain states) in eco-friendly funeral options.  Many consider cremation eco-friendlier than a traditional burial, with embalming fluids, concrete, and steel being buried into the earth.

Some families still opt for burial and are considering natural burial, and even traditional cemeteries are adding hybrid green burial sections to cater to this demand.

Visit this Green Burial Directory on US Funerals Online to locate Green Cemeteries near you.

#3  A break away from convention in rituals

Society is changing, and how we approach life rituals is part of that change.  There have been changes in our attitudes to how we approach births for some time now, with a greater interest in natural birthing processes.  Some families have moved away from a somber funeral ritual to choose a Life Celebration event instead, breaking the convention of a traditional funeral service.

#4  A Preference for More Personalization in Memorialization

Personalization has become quite the ‘buzz’ concept of culture today.  We all look for myriad ways to personalize our lives.  We personalize our daily lives and possessions to stamp our identity, so why not choose to host a funeral that exemplifies this quality of personalization?

This trend has meant that funeral homes are having to adapt to cater to personalized services. And even accept that families may now opt NOT to use their chapel or funeral home for a memorial service but prefer to host their own memorial tribute service at a different venue.

Check out our Guide to Memorialization and Cremation Tribute Ideas.

#5  A return to the 19th century concept of family-led funerals

Back in the day, an undertaker was largely just responsible for making a coffin and burying the deceased.  The family would prepare their loved ones and lay them to rest in the parlor, holding a vigil at home to mourn their departed family member.

Eventually, the business of undertaking extended to funeral parlors and, today, funeral homes and funeral directors.

However, there is a trend affecting the funeral industry today, where more families are wishing to conduct a ‘DIY’ funeral for their loved ones instead of just using a funeral home to conduct everything.

There are 10 states that DO require a family to employ a funeral director to conduct funeral services and handle a deceased’s body. 

But that still leaves 40 states where a family can, if they so choose, opt to handle the funeral services themselves.  Several organizations nationwide support families who wish to conduct a family-led funeral.

These 5 trends are changing an industry that has been very traditional for many decades.  Some businesses recognize these changes and adapt to meet the demand.  But for some in the industry, these trends are presenting them with challenges.

Sara Marsden

I have been researching and writing about the death care industry for the last ten years. End of life services and experiences are something most of us choose not to reflect upon until we are suddenly faced with dealing with it. I have been contributing comprehensive and independent resources for families that explain how the funeral industry operates, and the laws that govern funeral practices. Sara writes for US Funerals Online and DFS Memorials LLC, as well as contributing to other forums and publications for the death care industry. I have a BA in Cultural Studies. This helps my analysis of cultural death care rituals, alongside a career background in Business Management. The death care industry is undergoing an epoch of change and this fascinates me.

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