10 Funeral Trends That May Surprise You

10 Funeral Trends That May Surprise You
Here are 10 new funeral trends that are reinventing how families honour their loved ones after death, including themed funerals and new funeral technology.
9 minute read

Funerals are not what they used to be. Many people that plan funerals these days are forgoing traditional practices and are looking to reinvent practices around death and dying and find new and unique ways to memorialize their loved ones.

That is because technology and new services have made it possible for people to customize and personalize a funeral in creative and untraditional ways.

To that end, here are 10 funeral trends that may surprise you and that are worth investigating for a preplanned funeral or to celebrate a loved one.

Rising cremation rates

Burial was once the most common funeral rite. But since the 1960s, cremation has slowly become the preferred method of disposition in Canada. The Canadian cremation rate has increased by almost 30 per cent since 2000. As of 2020, the rate reached 73.1 per cent and is projected to grow to 77.6 per cent by 2024.

One of the main reasons for the growing cremation rate is lower cost. Traditional burials range in price from $3,000 to over $12,000 because burials typically include products, services and ceremonies that expand funeral budgets. For example, a casket alone typically runs between $2,300 and $5,000, but can also cost upwards of $20,000 depending on the customization. See this post for types of funeral by cost.

By contrast, cremation funerals fall between $2,000 and $5,000. This is because, in most cases, fewer or more simple ceremonies are held when choosing cremation. Therefore, most fees will go towards provider fees, the cremation process, and urn purchase. Urns range in price from $10 to upwards of $2,000. (See urn prices.)

Funeral costs can be further reduced with a direct cremation, in which remains are sent directly to a cremation centre shortly after death, eliminating services, such as embalming, visitation, viewing, wake, and casket. Direct cremation will usually fall within the $1,500 to $4,000+ price range.

Another reason cremation has become more popular is because of sustainability. Cremation is typically viewed as more environmentally friendly than burials. It uses fewer resources, is less labour-intensive, and requires less energy.

Cremation also offers more flexibility. Burials are time-sensitive, so planning a large celebration in a short window of time can be stressful. For cremation a body can remain in storage for as long as needed, or families can have the cremation right away and hold ceremonies and celebrations afterward. This also makes it easier to celebrate the deceased person's life with friends and family. When a death is sudden, some may not be able to take time off work or travel to a destination to attend a funeral. However, with cremation, services can be held weeks, months, or years down the line, giving you time to plan and accommodate more people.

Aquamation

Aquamation is a water-based form of cremation, whereas traditional flame cremation cremates a body by exposing it to extreme heat in a chamber, which reduces organic matter leaving bone fragments. These are further reduced in the funeral process to produce a powdered form of cremation remains.

Aquamation uses the process of alkaline hydrolysis to cremate remains. A body is treated with water, heat, pressure, and alkali (potassium hydroxide), which produces a reaction that speeds up the body's decomposition. At the end of the process, you are left with bone fragments and a sterile liquid. The fragments are pulverized to create a powder, and the liquid is released as wastewater.

One of the key reasons aquamation is growing in popularity is it eliminates the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting emission of greenhouse gases. The process is more sustainable for the environment

Aquamation also produces more ashes, which may benefit those in large families that want to share them. The cost is also comparable to flame cremation. A direct cremation can be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000+. Direct aquamation will often range from $2,000 to $3,000+. Therefore, the price difference is not drastic, and you will also be reducing the environmental impact of a funeral when choosing this option.

See where in Canada aquamation is legal.

Preplanning a funeral

The cost of dying has been steadily increasing over time, which has sparked a surge in preplanning funeral arrangements. Many people don't want to think about death and dying. However, it is an inevitable part of life, so people are choosing to customize their arrangements ahead of time to ensure their wishes are followed.

Preplanning your funeral allows a person to have control over what will happen when they die. This can be as simple as sharing end-of-life wishes with their loved ones, planning and fund it beforehand using a prearrangement agreement.

A prepaid final arrangement contract is a legal agreement made with an insurance company or a service provider before death. It involves picking out and funding some or all funeral arrangements. After death, the allocated funds are used to pay for a person's preselected arrangements.

Preplanning and prearrangements also help relieve much of the mental and financial burden that would otherwise be left to a family. Additionally, a contract helps protect from inflation, as the services are guaranteed to remain at a price provided in the agreement. If that is not possible, providers will find a suitable and reasonable replacement.

Home funerals

A home funeral is a blanket term used to describe death care that family and friends of the deceased person handle themselves or with minimal assistance from a funeral service company. That means the use of a funeral home and commercial funeral services are largely avoided or minimized, except for services required by law (like the process of cremation).

With a home funeral, family and friends take on many of the roles and responsibilities of preparing the body and planning the funeral in its entirety or in collaboration with funerary service providers. See out guide to family-led death care.

This has become popular because it allows family and friends to participate directly in the funeral and know what happens to their deceased loved one as they are put to rest. This can help with closure and acceptance. It also encourages bonding and collaboration between family and friends.

Home funerals are also cost-effective. The services provided by funeral homes can be expensive and include options that may not be needed or wanted by the deceased person or their family and friends. These products and services can be excluded from a home funeral, saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Green burial

With a growing trend toward environmental protection and sustainability, many people want their concern for the planet extended to end-of-life plans, and green burials are a great way to do this.

A green burial is a blanket term used to describe death and funerary practices that minimize environmental impact. This can include adding green elements to more traditional funeral practices or choosing a standard green burial at designated cemetery sites.

According to the Green Burial Society of Canada, to be considered a green burial, it must include five green burial principles. These include:

  • No embalming.
  • Direct earth burials
  • Ecological restoration and conservation
  • Communal memorialization
  • Optimized land use

Several green burial sites can be found across Canada and the United States. In addition, many companies have also developed new green burial techniques that can be used at these sites or in traditional cemeteries. Some of these are currently available , such as mushroom burial suit, living cocoon, etc. Others may be available in the future in Canada and the U.S. such as human composting, Capsula Mundi, and promession.

If you do not want a full green burial, you can add green elements to funeral plans. That means choosing cremation or aquamation over burial or using biodegradable urns or caskets, or choosing direct burial, direct cremation or aquamation, etc.

Technology-centric funerals

Technology has become a key part of everyday life, so it would make sense that it has found its way into funeral arrangements. This has become even more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic due to travel restrictions, gathering limits, and lockdowns. Many events have moved online, and funerals are no exception. Fortunately, many of the aspects of funerals can be easily adapted with technology.

Virtual and in-person funeral memorials or services can be streamed online using platforms such as Facebook, Vimeo, Youtube, and more. This option gives those unable to attend an opportunity to participate remotely. You can also make it completely virtual with a video or teleconference platform such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. For example, guests can gather on a call, light a candle, or say a prayer in memory of the deceased person.

Social media can also be a great way to bring people together virtually. Loved ones can pick a day, week, or month where friends and family of the deceased can post pictures, videos, and stories related to the deceased person with a specific hashtag. This allows more people to participate asymmetrically (at different times during a single event), and all the memories can be found in one place and viewed in the future.

Other virtual memorial options include a memorial website, collaborative music playlist, video game event, virtual memory book, etc.

For funeral planning, providers like Eirene let their customers make funeral arrangements online or over the phone. This lets people engage in the funeral planning process from the comfort of their homes without the need to visit a funeral home.

At Eirene, our services are almost entirely virtual. Our team of licensed funeral directors is here to help guide you through the entire process and are available 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week via email, phone, or live chat. You can learn more about our services on our website: https://eirene.ca/. You can make online funeral arrangements with Eirene here.

Unique cremation burial or scattering alternatives

Traditionally,  cremated remains were kept by family in the home in an urn, buried, scattered, or interred in a niche or columbarium. However,  several new and unique ashes disposition methods are now available. They include:

Funeral parties

Another growing trend with funerals is forgoing somber events and choosing more joyous ones that focus on celebrating the deceased person's life.

A great example of this is a celebration of life party which is a ceremony or party where family and friends get together to memorialize the life of a loved one who has died. A celebration of life is usually upbeat, but it can have more solemn moments. Often it is a mixture of both. However, it essentially serves as an opportunity to remember someone who has died and celebrate their life using activities, music, food, decorations, and more.

You can design a funeral party any way you want, and, as such, here are some ideas for activities:

  • Open mic night where family and friends can take turns on stage sharing memories of their time with the person being celebrated.
  • Create a memorial video or slideshow.
  • Rent karaoke equipment and have guests sing some of the deceased person's favourite songs.
  • Participate in a favourite pastime or hobby. For example, go fishing, hiking, stargazing, playing golf, etc.
  • Organize a group lantern or balloon release.
  • Rent a dance floor and DJ and play the deceased's favourite music.
  • Have dinner and serve the deceased person's favourite foods.

Theme funerals

Another great way to make a funeral lighter and upbeat is to choose a themed funeral. It is an event where decorations, guests, activities, food, music, etc., follow a particular style or motif. This can be a great way to remember the deceased and one of their favourite hobbies or pastimes.

For example, if the deceased person was a fan of Star Trek or Star Wars, for example, you could decorate the venue with an outer space theme and have guests dress up as a character from the franchise or in colours associated with the show.

If the deceased was a dog lover, you could make the venue dog-themed and invite guests to bring their furry friends to the celebration. There are many ways this can be done, and it is an excellent opportunity to incorporate part of the deceased person's personality into the celebration.

Crowdfunding funerals

Technology has also found its way into funding a funeral. Regardless of the things you do to reduce the cost of a funeral, it is still likely to be a relatively expensive event, especially if the death is unexpected. Many families may not be able to afford these services. Crowdfunding provides a way for family and friends to help cover a portion or all the costs.

You can also use crowdfunding platforms to raise money for groups and causes important to the deceased person. For example, if the deceased died of breast cancer, you can set up a fundraiser or crowdfunding campaign and donate the proceeds towards cancer research.

Here are more ways to fund a funeral and here are government funeral funding options.

Questions?

If you have a question about a non-traditional funerals or need information about cremation, aquamation, direct cremation and more contact us at support@eirene.ca or click here to make arrangements or to preplan a funeral. We serve Ontario and Nova Scotia families.