At US Urns Online, we’ve been observing funeral industry trends for over ten years now.
Our picks for 2024 trends reveal the normalization of some ideas that were once new and are now standard, and introduce other funeral service trends that are on the cutting edge of technology and creativity.
With the new year comes new expectations, and every family engaged in funeral planning this year will be more online, more adept at research, and will have more unique requests than ever before.
If you are in the funeral profession, are you ready?
Let’s take a look at the funeral options that will interest the families you serve in 2024.
2024 Funeral Trends
As the New Year begins, we’ve collected our thoughts on the most important 2024 Funeral Trends.
Towards the end you’ll find some tips (for both consumers and funeral professionals) to get the most out of these trends in making final arrangements, planning funerals, and hosting memorial services.
Note: This article is updated each year as new trends emerge, preferences change, the industry adapts, old practices fade away, and new trends become common and expected services.
The relatively new profession of death doula (or end-of-life doula) is surging in popularity.
It’s easy to see why. Having outsourced dying to hospitals and funeral homes, we no longer have deep traditions surrounding the death process. Families and individuals feel overwhelmed and out of touch.
The doula is an informed advocate who helps the dying person think through their end-of-life wishes, the environment of their last days and deathbed, family involvement, rituals, and reflection on the meaning of their death and the legacy of their life.
Secondarily, the doula aids the family in how to interact with a dying loved one, planning together for what to do immediately after the death, and offers emotional support with a time of reprocessing with the family after the dust settles from all the funeral arrangements.
Expect to see more demand for end of life doulas in 2024 and beyond.
Amber Carvaly, a licensed funeral director serving in LA, California, notes that families want to better understand how to remember and grieve their loved one after the funeral is over.
Now that web-savvy consumers are the norm rather than the exception, families are looking to the internet to connect with aftercare. This is an area that the local funeral home can step into with some creative partnerships.
Carvaly says, “I know that funeral homes are busy places. Rather than making a page that just says ‘Resources,’ funeral homes can put out an open request for pitches” from the community. You never know what unique resources are out there until you open the door.
That’s how Carvaly came across her side hustle. “I have been really excited about the growing interest in grief and cooking and have found that families have been responding positively to creating recipes [handed down] from their loved ones.”
Carvaly, who created and runs the Mortician in the Kitchen website, says that her site was founded on this very idea and notes that “more mainstream publications are beginning to publish articles about food and grief as well.”
What sort of aftercare resources will your funeral home feature?
In 2020, in this space, we predicted that virtual funerals and live streaming would be a growing trend. But we never anticipated the reality of what would happen that same year.
As the effects of the pandemic took hold, virtual funeral services exploded. Simply out of necessity, most funeral homes began to offer some sort of streaming service, or at least accommodation for it.
In 2024, live streaming funerals has become standard. Many funeral homes offer live streaming as an option, and you likely have family members who would be eager to help set up a Zoom, Facetime, Vimeo, YouTube, or Skype.
As this funeral trend continues into the new year, look for more services that offer professional live streaming for small to medium sized events such as funerals and memorial services. You’ll probably be able to find a streaming service locally by searching in your area, which will be a professional-level upgrade from Uncle Dave or Aunt Maggie with their cell phone.
Other digital memorials include virtual memory books and memorial websites. We’ve curated a list of the best free online memorial websites to honor your loved one, including ways to collect donations online in lieu of flowers.
Personalization and Participation
Over the past 20 years or so, industry trends have moved away from traditional funerals. Unique, creative personalization of the funeral service has become the new normal.
Along with making the service personal, families also are looking for ways to participate. This could involve open mics, dividing and scattering cremated ashes, making music or singing, planting seeds, releasing paper lanterns, and more.
These things aren’t news to anyone in the funeral industry, but, if you’re a funeral professional, awareness of what your clients want is the key to providing exceptional service.
If you’re a family member planning or arranging a funeral, this is a good trend to take into account while you’re thinking about what you want.
Remember, according to the FTC’s Funeral Rule, you have the freedom to choose exactly which products and services you think fit best with your needs and the individual.
Related: 55 Creative Memorial Service Ideas
Direct cremation is the most affordable mainstream disposition option. It’s affordable because all the body preparation and full-body funeral service options are simply bypassed – the body of the decedent is cremated “directly” after death.
The “direct” part makes this a very low-cost options, and that’s why you’ll hear about it more and more as an emerging mainstream funeral trend.
The advantage of this option, aside from the immediate savings, is that the family can hold on to the remains until memorial service, scattering, or funeral arrangements can be made.
This allows time for a custom cremation urn to be built, travel arrangements made, charter boat for ocean scattering to be arranged, chapel or community center to be rented, etc.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen more funeral homes own and operate their own crematorium, or partner closely with a crematorium, to offer direct cremation services. So while you may find some independent crematoriums, often you’ll get the same thing with a similar price by going to a funeral home. Just remember to shop around a little and compare prices.
Learn more: What is Direct Cremation?
As consumers have become more aware of the effect we humans have on the environment, eco-friendly and sustainable options have come to be a priority for many.
This trend has been felt in the funeral industry, with the rise of green burial practices, eco-friendly cremation urns and caskets, and a growing sensitivity towards to issues regarding waste, renewal, and sustainability.
Here are some resources for green funeral products:
- Biodegradable Water Scattering Urns
- Biodegradable Ground Burial Urns
- Eco-Friendly Woven Caskets
- Recycled Plantable Seed Paper Funeral Invitations
- Biodegradable Dove Balloons for balloon release
- Funeral Flowers: Source all flowers from local growers
Here are some further resources for green burial and funeral practices:
- Green Burial Council
- National Funeral Directors Association – Greening Your Business
- 5 Simple Ways to Have a Green Funeral
- Green Funeral Reception Food – How to go green: Eating
- 5 Ways You Can Plant a Tree in Memory of a Loved One
The DIY generation is learning how to do funerals at home. Advocates of the movement say it helps the family process their grief, as they are personally involved in taking care of their loved one’s body.
A “home funeral” cuts down many of the common funeral costs. And it can be much more eco-friendly, with simple freezer packs used to cool the body and slow down decomposition in place of embalming.
Help-at-home services such as Death Midwifery are becoming more commonplace as well, in which a “Death Doula” or “End of Life Doula” helps out with the home funeral in a similar way as a traditional midwife with home birth.
Hand-in-hand with the DIY trend is the natural, earth-and-humanity-conscious trend. No more formaldehyde, no more expensive flowers imported from countries with horrible business practices, no more overpriced fancy caskets that just get buried in the ground to waste away.
For the final disposition of the body or remains, there are several options. You can use a biodegradable burial urn, an eco-friendly scattering urn, a bamboo casket, or even just an organic cotton burial shroud. The idea behind this funeral trend is to keep it simple, natural, and earth-friendly.
Local Reviews More Important Than Ever
Word of mouth will always be key, whether you’re a family looking for funeral services or a funeral home building and maintaining a reputation. The way that word of mouth recommendations are passed along, however, will change.
And it already has – online reviews are more popular than ever, and for many people that is the first thing they look for when contemplating any product, service, restaurant, hotel, etc.
Look for more funeral homes to find ways to get local online reviews, and look for more consumers to start their funeral arrangements by looking for online reviews.
Community gardens are starting to pop up everywhere. This is a great trend that emphasizes community, eco-consciousness, giving, serving, and of course delicious locally grown and healthy foods.
A community garden can become a memorial garden (officially or unofficially) when someone donates land for the purpose, provides a memorial bench for an existing garden, or simply invites friends and family to spend time gardening at the community garden in honor of a loved one.
Gardening is a great physical activity that allows you to move at your own pace. It also provides something constructive for a spouse to do after the passing of their loved one.
Look for more community memorial garden ideas to come along, including compost-based renewal, special gardens for the scattering of ashes, memorial flower gardens, memorial vegetable gardens, front lawn gardens, and more.
There are many reasons that advance planning of final wishes and funeral arrangements is a smart idea. Among many other benefits, advance planning helps you to:
- Save on pre-paid services
- Save time, stress, and rush shipping costs on funeral products
- Choose details of your own funeral
- Keep your family from the stress of having to decide on those details at the last minute
- Plan something unique and personal
- Lay the groundwork for finalization of legal affairs
For these reasons and many others, advance planning is an important option for smart consumers. With an already-tight economy and the increase in Baby-Boomer generation retirees, look for many families and individuals to start advance planning in 2024 for their eventual need of funeral services.
For further reading, you may be interested in these three helpful books:
I’m Dead. Now What?
96 pages in a spiral hardcover, a well-organized and useful workbook to fill out with your plans.
Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won’t Have To (7th Edition)
432 pages, a thorough and highly-reviewed resource book for advance planning.
When Someone Dies: The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death
256 pages, trade paperback resource and guide written by a venture capitalist and lawyer who “made a series of agonizing and costly mistakes in squaring away her affairs.” This book is his guide to help you avoid doing the same.
Online Shopping & Arrangements by Text
Text is simply the way people communicate in 2024. With advances in technology, communication and purchasing have both become mobile-first even in the funeral industry.
You can now easily arrange a funeral by phone (actual dial-the-number voice calling, email, and/or text – usually a combination).
And even when meeting in person, families aren’t shy anymore about pulling out their phones and shopping for better deals, so the trick – for funeral professionals and consumers alike – is going to be finding the best ways to utilize online shopping together.
For funeral homes, this will mean keeping your prices fair and competitive while realizing you’ll gain back what you lose in immediate revenue by the low cost of social sharing and advertising.
Be open and honest. Let your clients know they are welcome to research further online. You can use this as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge, experience, and local understanding against the generic content of the internet. Doing so allows clients and families to truly value the services you provide.
For families, this means telling the funeral home staff that you found their listing online, keeping off your phone when it’s respectful to do so, and responding to the funeral home’s review requests or social media content.
You should also be aware that you are not required to buy everything through the funeral home; if you find something different or at a lower price online, you are legally entitled to purchase the cremation urn, casket, or other product and bring it to the funeral home to use.
You may find that more funeral homes are pricing their cremation urns and caskets at comparable prices to online retailers, and that this saves you the time and trouble of ordering and waiting for delivery.
The best place to shop online for cremation urns: Urns Northwest
Crowdfunding funeral costs will remain a trend, especially in the event of an unexpected death. Fueled by the rise of Kickstarter and GoFundMe, there are many options for family and friends to raise money to help cover the funeral costs of a loved one.
Here are some of the best crowdfunding sites for funerals:
- EverLoved – This is our favorite, because first and foremost it’s a free memorial website you create in honor of your loved one. They also have a seamless donation button where people can make a contribution in lieu of flowers. It’s a subtle, classy option.
- GoFundMe – One of the most popular and familiar sites for crowdfunding. Thousands of funerals and legacy funds have been created through this platform.
- Treasured Memories – Crowdfunding network designed specifically for funding of funeral and memorial costs.
- Funeral Fund – Another popular crowdfunding platform where donations can be made to cover an individual’s funeral expenses.
Community has become valued more than ever before as we deal with the affects of social distancing. Here are some ideas to promote community involvement and togetherness:
For Funeral Homes
- Donate a portion of sales to providing services to lower-income families
- Make donations to local charities and families in need
- Volunteer at community centers and events, or in local charitable organizations
- Rent out your location as an event center, and offer discounts for community events & low income families
- Ask for donations to a worthwhile cause instead of funeral flowers
- Work through your grief by helping others & volunteering
- Set up a trust or charitable organization in honor of your loved one
- Plant a tree in memory of your loved one
Tips & Ideas For Funeral Homes
Here are some ways for funeral homes to stay ahead of the curve with these funeral trends:
Get a subscription music service, such as Spotify or Apple Music. This will give you the ability to personalize music for any service, and also add a comforting ambiance when the family is there to work on the funeral arrangements.
Create an app for your funeral home. More and more, everyone stays connected through their smartphones and they will be expecting your funeral home to do the same.
Look into other web services. There are many online platforms that can provide you with a creative service, such as hosting memorial websites, video streaming, follow up with review requests, and much more.
Look into other local services. People love local. Contract with local video editing and production teams, funeral photographers, caterers, florists, urn and casket makers, and others to add a local flavor to your services.
Offer home funeral guidance. If the home funeral trend really takes off, wouldn’t you rather benefit from it? Don’t be the cranky old business that resents customers buying things on the internet – adapt! You are the professional, you have a breadth of useful knowledge and skill, and you want to help people in a time of need. Create an affordable home funeral assistance program that includes a guidebook, a few recommended products, and a meeting with a funeral director. Send your interns or trainees to help. Offer the hearse, your reception area, direct cremation, etc. There are many ways you can effectively become involved in the home funeral trend, and while it will be a small revenue stream, that’s better than none, and your reputation will improve immensely.
Read and research. Subscribe to industry magazines and periodicals, such as the American Funeral Director and Southern Funeral Directors. Sign up for our newsletter, which features industry news along with interesting ideas, products, and inspiration. Read up on the funeral practices of other religions and cultures, especially if you find your local demographics are shifting.
Find creative new products to stock. There are thousands of new and trendy funeral products out there. People will be looking for them, so if you can keep on hand some competitively-priced memorial tree urns, biodegradable balloons or floating paper lanterns, have a deal with a local printer to print funeral invitations (“shop local!”), etc., your families will see you as an advocate rather than an adversary. Also, check out these popular memorial bird feeders, which families love.
Be open to new possibilities. As many consumers are getting more web-savvy, in combination with larger economic trends, many funeral homes are considering alternative revenue streams. Team up with food trucks to cater a celebration of life service, rent out the property as a wedding venue, or build a back porch and gazebo for BBQ memorial receptions in the summer months.
Tips & Ideas for Families and Funeral Consumers
Here are a few ways families and friends can use these 2024 funeral trends to lower costs and honor your loved one in special ways:
- Be aware of your rights. Read up on the FTC’s Funeral Rule and the helpful articles on the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
- DIY what you can. There are tons of online resources for DIY, which will get you involved and save you money.
- Let the professionals do their thing. The professionals, such as the funeral home, cemetery, and crematorium staff, know what they’re doing. If you don’t know or aren’t comfortable doing something, by all means have the pros do it. And remember to thank them!
- Don’t go overboard. One of our all-time most popular posts talks about shooting remains into the air as fireworks, having a Viking send off, turning ashes into a Frisbee, and more bizarre ideas. But how many people actually do that stuff? Don’t fall prey to the idea that you need to make the funeral some sort of over-the-top event. True, it is once in a lifetime, but you don’t need to do every unique idea or spend multiple tens of thousands of dollars. Personalize the funeral in one or two small ways, make use of one or two creative alternative ideas, but also remember to keep it simple.
- Ask about pricing. It’s not cheap or insensitive to your loved one to avoid getting ripped off. Ask about prices, call multiple funeral homes, and shop online. At the same time, the lowest price options are generally low price for a reason. Be sure to compare reviews and reputation when ordering an urn or choosing a funeral home.
- Remember to emphasize family and friends. Eat together. Share memories. Have an after party or a life celebration event. Make it fun. Don’t be afraid to let it be sad. Grieve together. Invite a ton of people to scatter the remains together. Don’t worry about the wrong color flowers. Get everyone involved – crowdsource the memorial scrapbook by asking for photos, throw a potluck reception, have your Aunt’s Etsy Shop make some DIY memorials, have the avid gardener supply flowers, get everyone a memorial cremation ring, a memorial bird feeder, or a plantable seed packet.
What are some funeral trends that you see on the near horizon? Comment below!
Daniel has been working in the funeral industry since 2010, speaking directly to grieving families as they made funeral arrangements.
He began researching and publishing funeral articles on this website as part of his role as product and marketing manager at Urns Northwest.
Having written hundreds of articles and growing the site to multiple millions of views per year, Daniel continues to write while providing editorial oversight for US Urns Online’s content team.