Wednesday, April 17, 2019
In a time where America is becoming more secular, people are embracing end of life celebrations instead of somber memorials and funerals. These parties celebrating a person's life are becoming extravagant and sunny fiestas, and less dark suit affairs. Funerals are not the first ceremonies to change in our era, considering there are now destination weddings and theatrical baby gender reveals.
The movement will accelerate as the nation approaches a historic spike in deaths. By 2037, 3.6 million people are projected to die in the United States, according to the Census Bureau, 1 million more than in 2015, which is projected to outpace the growth of the overall population. 28% of people chose cremation instead of traditional burials in 2002, but now more than half of Americans are choosing this less expensive option. By 2035, the cremation rate is projected to be 80% according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
The funeral industry is adapting to the evolving society and culture of America. Funeral homes have hired event planners, remodeled drab parlors to include dance floors and lounge areas, acquired liquor licenses to replace the traditional grief laced industrial-strength coffee. Mark Musgrove, a former president of the National Funeral Directors Association who runs a network of funeral homes and chapels in Eugene, Oregon, says that he has even organized memorials in Autzen Stadium, home of the University of Oregon's Ducks football team.
See Karen Heller, The Funeral as we Know it is Becoming a Relic - Just in Time for Death Boom, SF Gate, April 15, 2019.
Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.