24 July 2014

Changing Funeral Customs

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Funeral rituals and customs are such an important part of our culture, though, as with every other ritual or element of our culture, they have changed through time.

Add the once somewhat common all-night wake to the casualties of an age of harried lifestyles and far-flung families.

Years ago, the practice of friends and families gathering for an all-night visitation was observed in various traditions, with the boisterous “Irish wake” perhaps the most well-known.

But the observance has become rare in this area except for American Indians, where it still is commonly practiced, according to funeral directors and clergy.

Have you noticed the same change in how wakes are handled in your family or community ?

Are there other funeral rituals which have waned?  Definitely.  As stated in Funeral customs undergoing rapid change, the number of cremations is steadily on the rise.

Funeral customs in the United States are undergoing rapid change. In the 1980s, the percent of bodies cremated first reached double digits, according to the Cremation Association of North America. The group estimates that cremation will account for the disposition of nearly 60 percent of all bodies in 2025.

And, what about the use of tech ?!?!  Whether it’s sending a condolence note to be posted on the designated funeral homes page or as stated in Mourning becomes electric: Tech changes the way we grieve ... 

In this new era, the bereaved readily share their sorrow via Facebook comments. They light virtual candles on memorial websites, upload video tributes to YouTube and express sadness through online funeral home guest books. Mourners affix adhesive-backed "QR code" chips to the tombstones of their beloved, so visitors can pull up photos and videos with a scan of a smartphone.

Those in need of consolation can replay the streaming video of a funeral service to hear a cleric's comforting words.... 

You can learn more about trends in funeral services from the National Funeral Directors Association or when in Houston TX, visit the National Museum of Funeral History.

Have you noticed changes in funeral customs & rituals in your family or community ?

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