As a leading voice for funeral service, NFDA has been tracking trends and working with funeral directors and consumers for 125 years. Today's families are bringing new values, preferences and opinions that are changing the world of funeral service. They are thinking differently about how they want to honor their loved ones and have new perceptions of the funeral service profession. The following are current key funeral service trends:
As baby boomers age and find themselves having to plan funerals for loved ones and themselves, they are making funeral choices based on values that are different than previous generations. Baby boomers see funerals as a valuable part of the grieving process and are seeking ways to make them meaningful.
Today, funeral service consumers are planning funeral services that are as unique as the person who died. The idea of personalization has resulted in an explosion of unique services that reflect the hobbies, passions and interests of someone who has died.
Through personalization, funeral services can be more meaningful. Funeral directors can offer ideas on how families can personalize their loved one's funeral and are open to family suggestions and creativity. NFDA encourages all funeral service consumers to discuss their ideas with the funeral director to ensure an individualized ceremony fitting of the person who died.
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Advance Funeral Planning
No one likes to think about funerals, but an increasing number of adults find that preparing for the inevitable is a wise decision. Planning one's funeral in advance allows individuals to do their homework and select a funeral home that will meet the emotional and financial needs of their family.
Planning funerals in advance allows individuals to plan a memorable funeral service that reflects their wishes. With advance planning, families today can plan celebrations of life as unique as the individual being remembered. Today's funerals include adding personal touches such as favorite music and incorporating hobbies and life's accomplishments. An NFDA-member funeral director can walk you through the decisions necessary to create a meaningful funeral service.
Planning one's funeral in advance does not mean one must prepay for the funeral. Many people who preplan their funeral also choose to prepay because it will alleviate the financial burden for their families. There are several ways to prepay for a funeral and a licensed funeral director can help individuals choose the method that best suits their needs.
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Cremation on the Rise
The public's interest in cremation continues to rise. In 2007, cremation accounted for 34.89 percent of final dispositions in the United States. As the popularity of cremations has grown, so has its acceptance among various religious faiths. Religions that previously frowned upon cremation are now understanding its value to families and adjusting their doctrines to accommodate this choice.
Cremation is just one way a family can lay their loved one to rest; it is another option in addition to earth burial or entombment in a mausoleum. Cremation does not preclude a visitation or funeral service. A visitation and/or funeral with the body present can be held prior to cremation. Alternatively, a memorial service with the cremated remains present, can be held after the body has been cremated.
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Meeting Consumer Needs Through Technology
In recent years, consumers have increasingly relied on the Internet as a leading resource for information. In response, businesses have increased their presence on the Web and funeral service is no exception. In order to enhance service to families and community, many funeral homes now have their own Web site. Having a presence in cyberspace allows funeral homes to easily display their products and services, which, in turn, provides the consumer with the freedom to conduct research at-will.
Many funeral homes can help families create memorial videos which include photographs accompanied by music. These videos can be shown at visitation or funeral service and are a special keepsake to treasure forever.
Because visitation and memorial services often take place shortly after a person's death, it may be impossible for all family members and friends, especially those living far away, to attend these functions. Some funeral homes have begun to accommodate those distant loved ones by providing a live online broadcast of the funeral service. These broadcasts can be archived on the funeral home's Web site for viewing at a later date or made into a DVD the family can keep.
Being green in funeral service is a natural consequence of today's American eco-consciousness. Consumer lifestyles and values, whether environmental, spiritual, philosophical or conservation oriented, are reflected in consumer attitudes toward products and services in the market and affect decision making. This includes attitudes toward death and funerals. Green funeral choices are expected to grow in popularity in the U.S. as this eco-consciousness grows.
As with the concept of "green" in general, green in funeral service means practicing environmental consciousness and being eco-friendly. It encompasses green funeral homes, green funerals, and natural burial. Today, funeral directors have the opportunity to adopt green practices to meet the needs of the families they serve.
A green funeral incorporates environmentally-friendly options in order to meet the needs of a family requesting a green service. A green funeral may include any or all of the following: a small gathering in a natural setting, use of only recycled paper products, locally-grown organic flowers, carpooling, organic food, no embalming or embalming with formaldehyde-free products, the use of sustainable biodegradable clothing, shroud or casket, and natural or green burial.
In natural burial, the body is buried, without embalming, in a natural setting. Any shroud or casket that is used must be biodegradable, nontoxic, and of sustainable material. Traditional standing headstones are not permitted. Instead, flat rocks, plants or trees may serve as grave markers.
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The New Face of the Profession
Funeral service has traditionally been a male-dominated profession. It also has been a "family" profession, with firms being passed down from one generation to the next. Today, people who didn't traditionally choose funeral service as a career are joining the profession and finding it very rewarding. In fact, many of today's mortuary school graduates do not have family members working in funeral service and have decided to join the profession as a second career. There are many opportunities for people thinking about joining funeral service.
Today, 57 percent of mortuary science students in the United States are women. Many of these women have discovered and are attracted to the skills and traits needed as a funeral director, including communication skills, compassion, a desire to comfort those coping with a death, as well as organizational and event-planning skills.
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