8 Necessary & Non-Negotiable Shifts Happening Right Now In The Funeral Profession

It’s amazing how many people actually want to talk about death these days.

Well, at least in the media. 

Funeral innovation, death technology, and death cafes, and the death positive movement have been hot topics in the press this year. Just do a Google search for any of those terms and see for yourself. 

These conversations reflect how rapidly the profession is changing… whether we like it or not.

If the rapid change is hard to keep up with, this blog is just for you. We’ve collected 8 articles covering some big topics in 2019 to keep you up to date with all the latest milestones and changes happening in the funeral profession right now. 

So without further ado here are the major trends to keep your eyes on, accompanied by the articles that bring them to life:

Trend #1: The creation of a new industry called “Death Wellness”

Read up on it: “I Refuse to Have a Terrible Death” The Rise of the Death Wellness Movement

Baby boomers have spent a lifetime refusing to live as part of the status quo, why would they be any different when it comes to how they want to die? As the creators of the wellness industry, it’s no surprise that Boomers are calling in a “Death Wellness” movement as well. This article defines “Death Wellness”, and explains how Boomers are driving the rise in pre-need planning and changing the way we look at death – as part of our healthy lives.


Trend #2: The birth of a “Death Positive Movement”

Read up on it:  The Death Positive Movement Comes to Life

Learn about the men and women who are shaping the death positive movement. From death doulas to green burial funeral directors, this article puts us face to face with all the ways these visionaries are leading us into the future of death. Joyous gatherings like death cafes invite us to welcome the opportunity to demystify death and truly celebrate life together. 


Trend #3: The rise of the Death Doula

Read up on it: We Interviewed a Soul Midwife to Discuss the Mind, Body & 

Soul Journey of Death

What does it really mean to help people die with dignity and grace? Take a peek into the world of soul midwives (also known as death doulas) in this insightful and uplifting interview with Felicity Warner,  the founder of Soul Midwives and the Soul Midwives School. She expands on how funeral directors AND soul midwives can work together to make the process of dying and grieving even more sacred and meaningful for families. 


Trend #4: Death disruption no longer remains a fad in a time of crisis

Read up on it: Disruption Comes for Death

This article starts off by creating feelings of discomfort for the average funeral director or cemetery owner: “The crisis reflects a stale industry; different approaches to death are desperately needed”. A harsh foreshadowing indeed, however there’s plenty of ways to have a low impact funeral, thanks to much innovation in the last 10 years. Find out all the ingenious ways people are creating completely unique memorial pieces and services in this quick read from Design Week. 


Trend #5: Green funerals to become the preferred choice for funeral consumers

Read up on it: Thinking of Having a ‘Green Funeral?’ Here is What You Need to Know

In case you didn’t catch it in the last trend, traditional death practices are becoming outright harmful to our environment. That might be why nearly 72 percent of cemeteries are reporting an increased demand for green burials? People are concerned for the health of our planet, and know that traditional embalming and caskets are leaving behind a big carbon footprint. This article from The New York Times highlights everything consumers need to know about their more sustainable choices, which offers a sneak peek into what your future families may be asking for!


Trend #6: Millennials aim to decolonize death

Read up on it: The Collective For Radical Death Studies

Although radical, this conversation is an important one. After the Washington Post just posted a 5,000 word conversation on racism, feminism and white supremacy, it’s becoming pretty clear that these topics are worth mentioning, no matter how uncomfortable. The Order of The Good Death is the first to bring these topics into the conversations happening amongst funeral professionals, and we’re glad they did. Their aim? To “serve as a source for thinking more critical about the ways in which people of color and those from marginalized communities die, grieve, are buried and are remembered.”


Trend #7: Personalized life celebrations reign supreme

Read up on it: The Funeral as We Know it is Becoming a Relic – Just in Time for a Death Boom

My dad never followed rules, so why would his memorial service?”

Here come those Baby Boomers again, riding the silver tsunami and creating a historic spike in deaths. They certainly know how to make a splash when it comes to funeral services – they want them to be unique, just like them. This article creates a great intersection between talking to families and funeral directors about how a personalized service impacts them. Inspiring ideas from families and professionals alike make this one a must read.


Trend #8: Empathy is the topic of the year in grief & healing

Read up on it: 6 Affirmations For the Modern Griever (And How To Use Them)

Modern funerals call for a modern approach to grief. Relying on the stale tropes of “they’re in a better place” simply isn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s time to focus on empathy over sympathy and lean into compassion as a funeral professional. Offering affirmations to grieving families, this article gives you a great starting point on how to support families in new and heart centered ways. 



The big takeaway of 2019

We hope you find these articles illuminating and inspiring. It’s been a big year in our industry and now we know one thing for sure — people are hungry to have a more positive, meaningful, emotional and sustainable relationship to death.  And the funeral profession is being asked to step up and meet them in that space. We have the resources to support these necessary shifts and changes happening. The question is, how can we come together to create the funeral of the future in the least harmful, most harmonious way possible? We’d love to hear from you. 


Tell us in the comments below, how do you plan to play a role in the changes happening in our profession?

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  1. Brad Stanton


    Have been enjoying your ‘blog’

    I have been wondering lately why so many articles in all death care industries are about the funeral home and director.

    Are you aware of any studies that have been published about cemeteries? Not necessarily those beautiful outdoor museums but those smaller private and church cemeteries that are often located in small towns and villages.

    Is any information available on how many visits these cemeteries have in a year?
    Does a well-groomed cemetery mean more visits?
    Does an ‘App’ one can have on their phone to show them physically where a certain grave is?

  2. Krystal Penrose

    Hi Brad, these are all great questions! For us, our main client base is funeral homes and directors, although we do serve some cemeteries as well. Have you checked out NFDA, or simply googled search terms related to cemetery research? Another good one would be to search “death positive” and cemetery together. Hope this helps!

  3. Jim Bradshaw

    Finally someone is looking at our work from a health care perspective. When we look at our work through that lens we see greater value in what we do.
    The big question is:
    Do we understand the important role we play in helping people get on a road to heal when
    they have suffered a loss?

  4. Krystal Penrose

    Jim, this is a great question. Something we encourage everyone in this profession to ask everyday. What funeral professionals offer families has always been valuable, and will continue to be, as long as we don’t mistake thinking they want what they’ve always wanted or needed. Thanks for your comment!