Every life is unique and funeral services should reflect that. Traditional ceremonies with their cultural and religious customs are still very much the norm, but more and more, funeral services are becoming increasingly individualised to mirror the changes in society. The way in which we perceive funeral services and death, even though tragic, is an opportunity to celebrate the lives of the deceased.
Also, no conversation on the evolution of funeral services can be complete without considering the severe impact that COVID has had on end-of-life ceremonies. What’s also important to note is that although it feels like COVID has been around forever and will possibly never end, the pandemic has had a massive impact on funeral services in only two short years.
But COVID too shall end. Just as AVBOB was started as a mutual society to help the victims and their families during the Spanish flu of 1918, so it will be during and after the COVID pandemic.
Funerals have, by and large, become more relaxed affairs that reflect the wishes of the families and dearly departed, but without the strict ceremonious and religious customs adhered to in the past.
Even though funeral customs and services have gone through a bit of an evolution, it’s important to respect the deceased’s wishes and to arrange funeral services accordingly.
Here are a few funeral trends for 2021:
Sustainability has been front of mind for more than a decade, and every year the demand to become more eco-conscious increases in all aspects of our everyday lives. So, it’s to be expected that the evolution of funerals and funeral services should follow suit.
One of these eco-friendly manifestations has been green burials. This trend involves forgoing embalming and choosing a biodegradable casket or urn. Caskets may be crafted using simple wooden, or even wicker baskets. Urns have evolved from metals and plastics into wooden containers that respect the environment, or even paper urns that dissolve in water.
Another eco-friendly trend is to bury a loved one’s ashes. This practice helps fertilise a sapling or young tree. There are even drives to develop GPS-based apps that will allow families to monitor the tree’s growth over the years.
It’s only natural that survivors want to pay their respects and say goodbye to the dearly departed. This custom goes beyond the normal routine of planning and attending a funeral service. More and more people are wanting to become actively involved, from partaking in washing and dressing the deceased, to witnessing the cremation first-hand.
COVID regulations have forced us all into varying stages of isolation. One negative impact of this has been that people haven’t been able to actively rely on the physical support of their families. The mandatory need for social distancing has resulted in online counsellors and support groups having to fulfil this need and help people come to terms with their loss.
Planning ahead in life is vital, and even expected, forcing us to consider and secure a healthy financial retirement, and future. This principle is no different in death. More and more people are planning their own (and even their parents’) funerals in order to alleviate any stress and strain of having to deal with the multitude of associated funeral tasks, and a potential financial burden on surviving loved ones.
Death is, unfortunately, unavoidable. However, many people are opting not to face funeral services in a solemn and grief-stricken manner, like wearing black funeral attire. Rather, there is more emphasis on honouring a life well-lived, and celebrating the memories and joy the deceased had brought to loved ones’ lives.
COVID has brought with it many restrictions, including lockdowns, social distancing, limits on gatherings, and personal health worries. Fortunately, technology has developed to the extent where this challenge is ameliorated. Live streaming, for instance Facebook Live, is becoming increasingly popular. The added benefit of live streaming is that it allows friends and families to virtually attend from anywhere in the world.
A change of setting for a funeral service is also becoming more popular. As mentioned, with funerals becoming more relaxed, people are looking beyond the traditional places of worship, and are considering alternative environments to conduct the funeral service, from outdoor tents to community centres, and often tend to lead the service themselves rather than involving a religious leader.
Funerals have evolved over the years, and no doubt will continue to do so as social mores change. However they may evolve though, one thing remains certain; loved ones, friends, and family will always choose to honour and respect the life and death of the departed.
AVBOB. We’re here for you.