Future and Present Trends in the Funeral Industry
In a recent post by Ryan Thogmartin titled, “15 Funeral News Stories Shaping the Future of Death Care”, he identifies fifteen articles that include the following trending topics:
1. Alkaline Hydrolysis
2. The Death Movement
3. Cremation Rate
4. Disrupting Death Care Papers
5. Green Movement
6. Social Media
8. Cremation and Pop Culture
10. Dignity Shares Crash
11. Funeral homes as event centers
12. The Funeral Rule
13. Eterna Succeeds
14. AAMI cheating
15. Funeral Home of the Future
For the sake of simplification, let us condense the above topics into three categories.
Articles about the disposition of the body.
Articles about the funeral director, buildings and business, regulations etc.
Articles about finances related to the industry and funerals.
So, combined, these articles discuss the deceased, the funeral home, and the finances involved, but what about the bereaved, the survivors looking for answers in their loss, amidst all of the changes they are currently enduring, and the hundred decisions needing to be made that accompany a loss.
Technology is reframing how we grieve, mourn, and memorialize. There are online cemeteries, all manner of memorialization items, and of course social media memorial pages; All of these have one word in common:
Thanatechnology: Any kind of technology that can be used to deal with death, dying, grief, loss and illness.
The one topic from the list above that can have an immediate and comprehensive impact on the digital loss experience is “crowdfunding”.
Crowdfunding provides a financial solution to holding a meaningful service for your loved one. Other options for paying end of life expenses are using credit cards, taking out a loan, or using savings and retirement funds, but raising funds via crowdfunding actually can eliminate that debt. Regardless of what one considers a “proper” funeral, having a farewell that represents who your loved one was in life and what their wishes were in death goes a long way toward healing after a loss.
Grief is a very personal emotion experienced and shared amongst family and friends. Crowdfunding, by nature, is community based. MyRespects.com allows families raising funds for funerals and final expenses to control sharing of stories and photos celebrating the life of your loved one. A fundraiser can be either private, or public, the bereaved may choose.
MyRespects.com can also influence the loss experience by what it has to offer those donating to a fundraiser. These days, through social media, even from thousands of miles away, a person can contribute financially and emotionally to a memorial service or funeral of a loved one. Through the MyRespects fundraiser page an advocate may share their thoughts and emotions, and accept condolences and donations. For many, being involved with a fundraiser is the next best thing if you are unable to be physically present. The reciprocal nature of giving and receiving is the essence of MyRespects.com. Communication, if heart-felt, can be healing, even if it is expressed via the internet.
Technology enables the support from loved ones to be extended far past the day of the service. Fundraisers may last a month or more. This, for many, is much needed time. We have all experienced a moment when we learned of a friend’s passing weeks or even months past what we felt was an appropriate window to pay our condolences. We know it is never really too late, but we may still be stifled and, not knowing how to reach out, do nothing. Technology has left that window for paying respects wide open.
Things are changing. Robots being used in the funeral home to support families is the last thing I would've thought of. Regardless of what your opinion may be of the term Thanatechnology, our grief and mourning can be positively impacted by technology available to us today. Take advantage of all it has to offer.