How Funeral Homes Are Catering to People Choosing Cremation

Posted by Gayle Bennett

What do you do if the central service your business provides is becoming less popular with every passing day? That’s the conundrum U.S. funeral homes are facing as an increasing number of Americans choose cremation over traditional burial.

“This industry was really built around selling a casket,” said Thomas Ryan, chief executive of Service Corp. International, the largest U.S. operator of funeral homes, in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

But all is not lost for the funeral home industry. The article points out that the most successful funeral homes are pivoting to serve the needs of families who are choosing cremation but still want to celebrate the life of their loved one.

Here are some creative ways to memorialize a loved one who has chosen cremation (and savvy funeral homes can help):

Multisensory Rooms. National funeral home and cemetery owner Foundation Partners Group has created “multisensory experience rooms” in its funeral homes. These rooms are outfitted with audio and visual equipment that can conjure up a multitude of environments that memorialize the life of the deceased. “The experience rooms can create the atmosphere of a golf course, complete with the scent of newly mowed grass, to salute the life of a golfing fanatic,” according to the Wall Street Journal article. “Or it can conjure up a beach, mountain or football stadium.”

    A Space Journey. A loved one’s resting place can now literally be out of this world. Two companies offer to take a small portion of ashes on scheduled spaceflights and send them into orbit or onto the moon’s surface. Family and friends can gather at the liftoff site or at a launch watch event.

    Integration with Art and Function. With specially designed jewelry, you can literally carry a loved one close to your heart. Similarly, Grateful Glass integrates a small amount of cremation ashes into layers of optically pure glass to then be worn as a jewelry or displayed as a keepsake. Those looking for more than just an urn as a receptacle for their loved one can purchase a granite bench in which one urn or multiple urns can be placed. 

    An Urn for Every Person and Style. And, of course, funeral homes are putting increased effort into helping their clients find the most appropriate urn for their loved one. Many are not aware that there are now cremation urn options for almost any design aesthetic.

    Eco-friendly Options. Those who want at least a portion of the ashes to become one with nature have a bevy of biodegradable urns and scattering options. And on the horizon, there could be an eco-friendlier burial option. With the Capsula Mundi concept, a loved one could be placed in an egg-shaped burial pod made from biodegradable materials. A tree or tree seed is planted over the pod, from which the tree takes its nutrients.

    The increased interest in cremation doesn’t need to spell doom for funeral homes; however, as is the case with most things, adaptation will be critical to continued success.

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    Gayle is a DC-based writer and editor who has covered topics ranging from education to real estate ... to now urns!" We welcome any questions or comments! Please email them to help@modernmemorials.com. 
    By Gayle Bennett

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