Unlike previous generations, today’s baby boomers want a say on how their final arrangements are carried out. Unique and personalized funerals and memorial services are replacing traditional ceremonies. What was once solemn and religious in nature is now focused on character, values and an otherwise significant celebration of the person’s life.
Funeral companies open to innovative changes in the industry are marketing their products and services to today’s generation of baby boomers. They are not only the wealthiest and most powerful generation there is, but they are also the first in their families to rely on the Internet to find funeral information and make purchasing decisions.
Baby boomers no longer rely on their parents’ experiences when planning a funeral. They have their own opinions. The advent of Internet and digital technology allows them to take control of how they find a funeral home and what services and products are provided. Through websites such as Grace or even Yelp, most people can locate a funeral home for a loved one’s service or even preplan their own.
Rising Rate of Cremations
Most baby boomers prefer cremations. In 2015, the cremation rate was almost 49 percent compared to 32 percent just 10 years earlier. The rate of cremation in California, for instance, is higher than this average, coming in at 58 percent. Besides, the cost factor (cremations are much cheaper), cremations allow more flexibility and personalization, something baby boomers are very vocal about.
When American writer, Timothy Leary’s ashes were “buried” in space in 1997, it made news because it was a bizarre choice in which to be disposed. Today, while the frequency of space burials is still low, there are endless other options baby boomers have when they are cremated including being:
- Scattered at sea or on a mountain top
- Made into a piece of cremation jewelry or stone such as a diamond
- Turned into a firework
- Incorporated into a piece of art
- Planted with a tree
- Placed in an hourglass
- Created into hand-blown glass
- Incorporated into a vinyl record
- Used as tattoo ink
Customizing a Service
After a cremation is complete, you can then choose a memorial or funeral service or a Celebration of Life ceremony. Baby boomers want personalized services to celebrate their accomplishments and their lives.
Baby boomers believe funerals and memorial services are also important aspects of the mourning process. By personalizing the ceremony, including the setting and the theme, you can make it unique from other ceremonies. To accomplish this, you can:
- Choose a special location: Funerals and memorial services do not need to be set only in a church or other typical setting. While traditional settings for a funeral might be a chapel, other house of worship, funeral home or graveside, you have more choices with memorial services such as a park, sports field, beach, art gallery or another place that is special to your loved one.
- Find the right date: A funeral is typically held within a few days or even a week after a person dies, but a memorial service can be held anytime. Expect some guests to come in from out of town, so make sure to choose your date accordingly. A funeral or memorial service held just a couple of days after your loved one died will have less out-of-towners than those services a few weeks out.
- Choose a unique theme: The personalized theme allows family and friends to focus on their loved one and remember the important things about his or her life. For instance, if he or she were in the military, you can showcase items such as photos, uniforms, medals and commendations. If your loved one was into sports, display his or her personal memorabilia.
- Use personal readings and music: Make the ceremony memorable by choosing songs and readings that the deceased person enjoyed such as Biblical scripture, poetry, anecdotes, storybooks, classical music, country songs or even jazz. Make the service unique by having attendees read, sing or play songs, perform a ballet dance or recite a scene or song from a Broadway play.
- Display photographs and present slideshows: While this may be one of the most common funeral and memorial service ideas, it can also be one of the most unique. Poster boards with pictures of different stages of the deceased person’s life are perfect to display. A video montage is often encouraged, especially if you give each guest a digital copy of the pictures to take home.
Adding Technology to Today’s Services
Technology is changing the face of funerals, something baby boomers are extremely comfortable doing. Consumers are relying more on the Internet to plan most aspects of a service from picking a casket to providing live video streams of the service itself. While some may feel that this takes away from the personalization of the funeral planning process, other believe this growing trend is the wave of the future.
Baby boomers are using companies that offer customized care services to help ease the creative burden often placed on those who are grieving and planning a service. Some ways baby boomers are using technology in end-of-life services is through:
- Websites: Most funeral homes have websites that provide general information in simple-to-use formats. Consumers can find helpful tips, such as how to plan a funeral, as well as online obituaries, finding a cremation specialist and details about all aspects of the service.
- Personalized services: Technology has increased the awareness of personalized funeral and memorial services. Before the Internet, consumers relied on books or funeral home directors for ideas on how to make a service unique. Today, they have websites such as Pinterest and other social media sites to gather information.
- Online Obituaries: Most funeral homes with websites publish obituaries on their sites. These also get picked up by remembrance sites such as legacy.com or tributes.com, both of which keep archives of many large newspaper obituaries. Online obituaries also allow relatives and friends who do not live nearby to read the obituary in a timely manner.
- Streaming Funeral Services: Many funeral homes are now offering to stream services via their websites for those unable to attend. While it does not replace being there in person, it does bring families closer together during this difficult time.
Don’t Wait to Start Planning
You don’t need to wait until you are ill or a loved one dies to start planning a funeral or memorial service. Grace offers a better way to plan a burial or cremation.