funeral’ - the alliteration works well doesn’t it? As Dan Katz rightly
points out in his post ‘The
emergence of the fusion funeral’ we are witnessing some amazing examples
of innovation by some funeral companies now. It is an interesting
time for this industry, with the huge shift towards cremation, a radical
shift away from traditionalism, new technologies reshaping funeral services
and, of course, the baby boomer generation starting to make their mark
upon their rites of final passage.
Dan points out that ‘fusion’
is an integral aspect of many vibrant and progressive communities now.
In many ways it can be regarded as a cultural reflection of our emergent
multicultural society, but it also symbolizes much more than that.
We do see examples of fusion
in many aspects of our culture today, and fusion has especially become
an accepted practice in culinary cuisine, art and design and music.
At US Funerals Online we
try and keep abreast of good examples of innovation in the industry, and
feel it is exciting to be involved in an industry on the epoch of a revolution….as
we like to consider it! This revolution, if not evolution, continues
to affect the funeral industry, and we do agree that we are witnessing
the emergence of the ‘fusion funeral’
last respects is an essential
element of a funeral ritual, the drive-thru funeral viewing, enables a
must wider access to a whole community to participate in this ritual.
Opposing cultural concepts of
the death ritual and decency
We are certainly seeing some
extraordinary creativity that is challenging the very notion of a stoic
and somber profession. How do you fuse together an icon of Americanism,
the drive-thru, with a funeral service?
In April 2011 we published
an article about the Adams Mortuary in Compton, Southern California operating
their somewhat bizarre but popular ‘Drive
thru Funerals’. Some public opinion to the notion of a drive-thru funeral
viewing was to express distaste, yet many also found it an ingenious way
to be able to access a viewing in our 24/7 culture. For those to
whom a viewing and a paying of
Is it disrespectful to laugh
at a funeral? We have long held to the tradition of the funeral as a somber
event, yet the ‘life celebration’ a less somber and more celebratory event,
is now being heralded as the next-generation funeral. I have heard many
wonderful plans for life celebrations, some that even border on the bizarre.
What is certain is that our concept of what is ‘decent’ for a death ritual
is changing. Stand up comedy at a funeral may still seem rather unorthodox
but this has been facilitated where the specific wishes of the deceased
The Fusion of Funeral Homes
and Community Centers
The shift towards life celebration
events and the decline in traditional funeral services, has led many funeral
homes to open up their establishments as wider community event venues.
Some funeral homes now host weddings, bar mitzvahs and other events.
Grace Funeral & Cremation Services in Rockford, IL recently hosted
an art show for local artists. Robinson Funeral Home in Easley, S.C. made
headline news in July with their announcement about their ‘Coffee Corner’,
a Starbucks coffee shop open to the general public.
How about funeral homes sponsoring
community events? Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home of Manhattan, KS
is sponsoring a forthcoming production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the local
Arts Center. This must surely be a creative way to fuse your community
values and profile your company to a broader audience!
The fusion of technology and
Technology is being fused into
the funeral industry with a growth in webcasting, online funeral planning
and creativity in online memorialization. The latest QR code and
mobile technologies are now radically thrusting emergent technologies on
an industry somewhat stumbling into modernity.
I recently wrote an article
about online funerals and technology where I took a look at how technology
is reshaping our funeral experiences. QR technology is stretching
our interaction of online connectivity constantly, and in our Online Funerals
article we looked at QR codes on headstones. The QR code has a greater
application to the funeral industry and accessing online memorial data.
A QR Remembrance Code is being marketed by Funeral Innovations as a way
to incorporate this technology into traditional funeral stationery.
This enables attendees with smart phones to instantly access the deceased's
full online obituary and memorial and leave condolences messages, eliminating
the need to search for the deceased’s online memorial.
Some funeral businesses are
having a mobile version of their website developed. Realizing the
value of information that can be accessed on a handheld device. In
fact with the take up of handheld devices by baby boomers, a mobile friendly
website, could become an essential solution for many funeral homes.
I know it is a tad clichéd
but current trends are more focused on putting the ‘fun’ into funerals.
Funerals today are evolving into the funeral of tomorrow. Even funeral
professionals are creatively embracing how they can be part of a greater
change in the industry. I have met funeral directors who have shed
the black suit in favor of more casual attire, and prefer to meet their
families at their home instead of the funeral home.
You can be just about as
creative as your imagination will allow these days. ‘Personalization’
is the buzzword that many in the industry are attempting to master, although
with some trepidation, as no one can personalize a tribute as effectively
as family can.
Life Celebrants are now becoming
as entrenched into our culture as Wedding Planners. A celebrant will
assist a family to arrange a befitting life celebration event, and it is
my understanding that they primarily focus on the memorialization aspect
of a tribute service. In the UK there are several companies that
offer life celebration or funeral consultancy services based on offering
creativity. The Fantastic Funeral Company specifically focuses on
supporting families in arranging a bespoke “personalized alternative to
a traditional funeral”. Whilst some funeral businesses are resistive
of such a service, many are adapting to work with life celebrants or even
offer their own bespoke celebrant services.
With so many creative memorial
solutions today – where do you start? Butterfly, dove and Chinese
lantern releases, themed services that involve dressing up, services held
at unusual locations in memory of the deceased, creating online memorials
or memorial gems, and a whole array of extraordinary ash scattering choices.
There is no doubt that as
the current trends in funeral care evolve, I expect we shall further witness
the emergence of the fusion funeral as a cultural ‘norm’. It is also
likely that the more we dispel the taboo about discussing dying and funerals,
and encourage ordinary people to talk openly about their end-of-life ritual
expectations, the more we will witness the funeral turning into a creative
and innovative life celebration ritual.
Marketing funerals has never
been an easy task, but marketing life celebration events and quirky, creative
‘fusion’ funerals may open up a whole new approach for those in the death
care industry to engage with their audience.
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
MAC presents ‘A Christmas
Carol’ [The Clay Center Dispatch] Nov 28 2012
Starbucks to Open Inside
Funeral Home [ABC News] July 12 2012
Artists sought for art show
at local funeral home [Rock River Times] July 26 2012
Drive more mobile traffic
to your website with Remembrance Codes