The funeral profession has seen lots of change recently. 2018 won’t be any different. As today’s families seek a more personal funeral experience, their choices will continue to impact all aspects of funeral service. Below are our predictions for the biggest trends and changes in funeral service for 2018.
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Cremation Continues to Climb
It’s not the boldest prediction, but it’s the most accurate. Cremation rates will continue to grow in 2018, beating out burial as America and Canada’s preferred method of disposition. But as we learned at NFDA this year, cremation isn’t necessarily the problem. The real issue is that a majority of Americans are unaware of the full spectrum of options available when choosing cremation.
The 2017 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report found that “many consumers are not aware that cremation can be accompanied by a memorial service or viewing. Less than half of Americans associate cremation with a memorial service, and just 11.8 percent associate cremation with a funeral that includes a viewing. Over half of Americans (52.2 percent) are not aware that, as part of a funeral with cremation, they can view a body that has been prepared but is not embalmed.”
In 2018, your funeral home shouldn’t focus on trying to combat cremation. Instead, your funeral home needs to focus on understanding why families choose cremation, as well as educating families about all the options available to them when choosing cremation.
Personalization is another trend that shouldn’t come as a surprise in 2018. 62% of families want a personalized funeral service. Baby Boomers are driving the trend. They feel that personalized services are a valuable and meaningful part of the grieving process. In 2018, the number of Boomers older than 65 is estimated to reach over 52 million. As more Boomers age, the demand for a more personalized funeral experience will continue to grow.
The important thing to ask your funeral home is what you can do to personalize a funeral in new ways in 2018. Download our free guide on personalizing a funeral service for ideas and inspiration.
Advanced Funeral Planning
As people look to personalize their final chapter, they’ll also want more of a role in the planning process. Expect more families to take an active role in funeral preplanning in 2018.
But don’t expect families to just start showing up at your funeral home. You’ll need to take a proactive approach as well. In 2018, find new ways to educate the community and create campaigns about funeral preplanning. Get started by downloading our free resource guide for families making end-of-life arrangements.
Spectrum of Care Becomes More Important
Another trend that’s continuing to impact the funeral profession is that Americans are more open to discussing death and dying. In the past, it’s been a bit of a social taboo. But new movements, such as Death Over Dinner, Before I Die, and the Order of the Good Death, are helping us open up and talk about dying. One of the biggest questions that these growing movements are asking is, what makes a good death? And the answer revolves around the spectrum of care. In 2018, expect to see more of an emphasis placed on the spectrum of care — meaning families will look for funeral professionals that are involved before and long after the funeral.
To prepare for this trend, your funeral home should invest in building meaningful relationships with hospice professionals and their patients. This helps establish important connections with families before the funeral. These connections help a funeral director learn more about a person, their experiences, and how they want to be remembered.
Your funeral home also should be focusing on creating meaningful and comprehensive aftercare programs in 2018. Aftercare is key to strengthening relationships with families. And it helps in establishing community trust. Download our free Grief Guide for ideas on establishing an effective aftercare program for your families.
The NFDA’s 2017 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study also revealed that alternative funeral services are gaining ground. Expect to see more green funerals, home funerals, and other nontraditional services in 2018.
How can your funeral home prepare for these alternative services? Just as with cremation, the answer is in educating your families. In 2018, your funeral home should focus on educating families about the important role a funeral director has in guiding the bereaved and helping create unique rituals to honor loved ones by. Check out our free eBook on going above and beyond families’ funeral expectations for ideas on adding more value to the funeral experience.
High-Tech Funeral Homes
The final trend in 2018 that funeral homes simply can’t afford to ignore anymore — the digital face of the funeral profession. Technology impacts all aspects of funeral service. It impacts how families research their options and resources. It affects how families reach out and connect with funeral homes. It’s even impacted the way we memorialize our loved ones after they are gone. In 2018, your funeral home needs to adapt to digital trends, or it risks losing families to competitors that already have.
What trends do you see happening in 2018? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!