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The Future Of The Funeral Industry Moving Past Traditional Funeral and Burial Services

Funeral services have been around as long as man has. They give family members the ability to have the space and time to grieve, process and pay respects for their lost loved ones. While the funeral industry boomed into a multi-billion industry, traditional funerals are not eco-friendly or wallet friendly which has caused people to turn to alternatives to the traditional funeral and burial processes.

According to NFDA, in 2010 the percentage of traditional funerals was 53.3% while cremation was well below at 40.4%. By 2015, we saw a huge jump in the number of cremations with a percentage of 47.9% while traditional funerals fell to 45.2%. Impressively it is projected that by 2025 cremation rates will be 63.3% while traditional funerals fall to 30.9%.

With these numbers in mind, there are plenty of factors why people are moving away from traditional funerals, the main reason being the cost. Funerals are expensive and the industry and price grow steadily every year, making them difficult for some families to afford. Below is a chart that compares the basic expenses included and total cost in a traditional funeral versus a cremation.

Traditional Funeral Expenses

  • Embalming Process
  • Visitation and Memorial Services
  • Burial Plot Cost
  • Gravesite Expenses
  • Casket Price
  • Vault or Coffin Container
  • Funeral Home Basic Fee
  • Facilities and Staff to Manage Viewing
  • Facilities and Staff to Manage Ceremony
  • Transportation Fees (hearse, service car, transporting to and from funeral home)
  • Cost of opening the ground, placing remains in the ground and actual burial


Average Total Cost: $9,000+

Cremation Expenses

  • Basic service Fees
  • Cremation Fee
  • Transportation Fees
  • Cremation Casket
  • Urn


Optional Expenses For Viewing/Memorial Services:

  • Embalming Process
  • Visitation and Memorial Services
  • Funeral Home Basic Fee
  • Facilities and Staff to Manage Viewing
  • Facilities and Staff to Manage Ceremony


Average Total Cost: $800-$3,000

While a traditional funeral offers plenty of services, cremations, even if they include viewing/memorial services, are still regularly a third of the price of traditional funerals making them a more affordable option. While losing a loved one is tragic and celebrating their life is important, families can end up going into debt and add unnecessary extra stress over simply trying to afford the outlandish cost that is involved in a traditional funeral.

Other Notable Funeral Industry Trends

While cremation is quickly taking over as the first option for families, there are other contemporary trends popping up in the industry that cut costs, allow for a more hands-on experience, safely bring more people together and offer options beyond basic burials and cremation processes.

Virtual Funerals

Due to COVID-19, virtual funeral services come on the scene in a huge way and are proving to be a growing trend. While many funeral homes have implemented accommodations out of necessity, the popularity of them might transform virtual funerals into a staple service in the funeral industry. With apps such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Periscope, and other professional streaming services, this trend is beneficial in the growing digital age by allowing people to attend regardless of location, transportation, or health.

Integrating Technology

In addition to virtual funerals, technology has been introduced into the funeral industry in a major way. Since many people rely on the internet for information, all industries must increase their online presence and the funeral industry was no exception. Beyond just being able to offer consumers access to the valuable information, some funeral homes allow you to request funeral services directly through their website. Another emerging technology trend is headstone technology, this is when NFC-enabled microchips or QR codes are embedded into a weather-proof headstone allowing visitors to access online websites that have images, information, and videos about their loved one.

Body Donation

Whole body donation is an end-of-life option that is not only cost effective but incredibly beneficial to healthcare research and education. Opting for a whole body donation program can be done before death and after death, the program will work with families after death and typically covers the cost of transportation, cremation, paperwork and returning a loved one’s remains. This option is a huge financial relief for families and offers amazing strides in disease/cancer research, medical education, and surgical device development for generations to come.

At-Home Funerals

As the name states, at-home funerals are done typically in a family member’s home and are legal in all states. Home funerals cut down on many common funeral costs and are considered to be eco-friendly and helps families process their grief by being personally involved. Some common cut costs are by opting for freezing instead of embalming and, though it is not required, using a Death Midwifery in place of a traditional funeral home director. Now, there are nine states that require you to work with a funeral director on some level whether it’s to file a death certificate or supervise a funeral and burial.

Creative Alternatives to Cremation

While cremation services’ popularity grows, so do the creative alternatives to a typical cremation urn or scattering. Families can opt to use cremated remains to do a space burial, tree planting burial, sea burial and can even be incorporated into fireworks. Cremated remains can also be made into ever-lasting gifts such as memory diamonds, memory glass, parting stones, one-of-a-kind paintings, and vinyl records. Other alternatives to actual cremation include:

  1. Aquamation – the process of being “bathed” in water which helps speed up the deterioration process in place of typical cremation processes that use fire.
  2. Promession – this is the process where a body is transformed into fertilizer. The process starts by freezing a body in liquid nitrogen then turning into a powder. This eco-friendly burial method helps give back to the earth by helping plant life grow with a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
  3. Dissolution – a strong chemical process that is quick and efficient at rapidly breaking down a body. The body immediately dissolves and there are no remains that can be returned to family members.
  4. Resomation – this eco-friendly burial method decomposes a body using alkali and water based solutions that are under high pressure that breaks the body to liquid and bone to ash. The remains can be recycled into a garden or collected in a traditional urn.


Choosing how to grieve the loss of a loved one is a personal option for families to decide for themselves. While the traditional funeral and burial always have the appeal of bringing everyone together and offering a place to visit and pay respect to loved ones, the number of alternatives is growing every year. The funeral industry regularly sees more personalized, cost effective, eco-friendly, and intimate ways to celebrate the life of a passed loved one being introduced.


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