Latest Trends in Funeral Services - An Essay Example

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Carnegie Mellon University
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Death is an unexpected eventuality which everyone has to go through at some point. Whenever it occurs, it often comes down to the family, friends and other loved ones to dispose of the body in the best way possible, often dictated by the culture and tradition of the community. Over the years, the process of disposing the body, or conducting a funeral has been one of grief and somber mood, which follow a specific order from start to completion. This, however, is changing and more trends can be identified in the industry. This report highlights three key trends that have emerged in the industry, and are bringing a significant impact in the funeral and memorial services.

Rising Number of Cremations and Scatterings

Cremation has been around for quite some time, but the number of people seeking to use it to dispose off the bodies of their loved ones once dead has been steadily increasing, and apparently at their highest rising levels (Rule, 2017). A 2015 Cremation and Burial report approximated that at least 30 percent of funeral homes within the United States operate their crematories, and more than ten percent of those who do not have a plan to develop one soon (2015 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics, and Projections, 2017). However, even those who do not own crematories still find themselves with clients in need of the services and all they could do is refer them to those who do. In the process of cremation, few people are preferring viewing, visitations and even conducting ceremonies before the practice. Those who prefer flexibility are also increasingly favoring the option.

The same report approximated that cremation shall overtake burials as the most preferred method of disposing of the dead by 2018 when over half of customers will be asking for the services (2015 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics, and Projections, 2017). There are some reasons why customers are opting for this option at the expense of burials, which has been the most widely used for the longest time. Other than the changing consumer preferences, other factors like cost considerations, environmental concerns and less religious or cultural prohibitions on the practice are key contributors. There is also an increased preference to funeral ceremonies with less ritualized funeral services. Most people view cremation as one of the methods that are short, quicker and does not involve complicated rituals or practices. The increase of individuals who do not identify with any religion, and mostly disconnected from close family ties prefer cremation. In essence, funeral and memorial homes should consider this significant trend and potentially invest in it, if they are to meet the needs of their clients.

More Flexible and Diverse Services in the Funeral Sector

Every profession reaches a point when it can no longer be effective in every front (Donohue, 2017). For quite a long time funeral homes have been offering complete funeral packages which including receiving bodies, storing them, planning for transport and eventually disposing of it through burial or any other preferred option. This is, however, changing, as consumers move to ask for more efficient services which include transport, recording and even cremation. Primarily, customers may not be fully satisfied by support services offered by funeral homes, and entrepreneur is seizing the opportunities to create a business out of those dissatisfactions.

For example, the need for more convenient and flexible transport services in the funeral industry has prompted entrepreneurs to develop Uber-like options to avoid fixed plans offered by funeral homes ("Body Transport Policy," 2017). The funeral industry is looking into that, and people are developing transport alternatives that will give them flexibilities but remain cost-effective. They may need to conduct funeral services away from funeral homes, in some places like churches, hotels, parks among others. They need transport options which will facilitate that without undermining their budgets. The primary objective is to extend flexibility, make it easy for the grieving community and manage to make it low cost.

Life Celebration Funerals and Memorial Services

The funeral service is nowadays a hub of consolation and positivity, contrary to the somber mood that had been the mark in the ceremonies (Jeff, 2017). Today, funerals are highly personalized that they come out as a way of celebrating the life of the departed, rather than mourning the loss. For every family that can afford a decent funeral ceremony for their departed one, they at least try to include videos that would stay for significantly a long time. Funeral or even the body of the deceased is accompanied by memorabilia, unique clothing, and music. Demonstrated of various themes is also common, which may include the release of doves, conducting fireworks, balloons among other things. Half a century ago funeral was pretty standard across every place that it happened, but today you have to understand the expectations of those you are serving if you are to meet their expectations.

Unlike several years ago when funeral services would be short, today they can take a considerable amount of time. Families spend more time conducting various services like singing, reading the eulogy and talking about the deceased ("Planning a Memorial Service or Life Celebration," 2017). The concept of personalization of funeral has also invited the political ideologies into the services. Families are using obituaries to make political statements based on the stand of the departed, or their loved ones (Dale, 2016). The political statements can be diverse and can include criticisms of the government, political opponents, and open injustices among others. These are the many things funeral homes have to understand, and closely consult with families to ensure they are part of the program. It is worth noting that funeral homes are just service providers, and would have little say in what families decide to be included in the menu, just ranging right from the memorabilia, flowers, or even eulogies and political statements.


Cremation, flexibility and diversity and life celebration are just three latest trends in the funeral industry. They probably have been around, but had never been increasing at the speed they are doing right now. The three provides funeral homes with a clue to developing strategic changes, which shall probably enable the firms to continue remaining in business. Even though each of them is critical, cremation will probably take center stage given the attention and demand it is receiving. More people prefer the option, something which has made the industry to rush and satisfy the ever-increasing number of customers. With over 50 percent of funerals forecasted to be seeking cremation services by 2018, firms in the industry have little option other than to invest in the same services. That will not just introduce flexibility to the bereaved, but will also be more convenient given it shall eliminate several requirements in-between, including transport, visitations and other rituals.


2015 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections. (2017). Retrieved from

Body Transport Policy. (2017). Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

Dale, D. (2016). Muhammad Alis memorial service turns political as thousands gather to pay respects | Toronto Star. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

Donohue, J. (2017). 10 Latest Trends in Funeral Planning - John P. Donohue Funeral Home. John P. Donohue Funeral Home. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

Jeff. (2017). Living Funerals | Life Celebrations | Funeral Planning |Memorial Party | Cremation Solutions. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

Planning a Memorial Service or Life Celebration. (2017). OneWorld Memorials. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

Rule, G. (2017). Trends in 2015 That Were Wake-Up Calls for Funeral Providers. OGR's Blog. Retrieved 29 September 2017, from

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