There are over than 32,000 local funeral homes in the U.S., and these businesses are offering an expanding range of services, such as grief counseling and personalized caskets. The funeral home industry has undergone a consolidation in recent years, and many local funeral homes are actually owned by a large national corporation. Increasingly, the services of funeral homes and cemeteries have become integrated as the industry moves towards full-service funeral businesses.
Changing Preferences – More Choice
Americans preferences are changing. Led by those who live in the western regions of the country, the trend is towards cremation rather than earth burial. As of 2014, over 30% of all deaths result in cremation and the number has been steadily increasing mostly due to the costs of traditional burials. The Neptune Society states they have seen a steady climb in cremations mostly because of the costs of traditional burials compared with the cost of cremation. In addition, you can still have a meaningful funeral service before or after the cremation. Plus, the ashes of the loved one can later be scattered, buried, or entombed. More and more people are choosing to have their loved ones ashes scattered at sea.
Funeral homes are responding to this trend, as well as to shifting demographics influenced by immigration. Cultural, religious and family traditions as well as financial considerations are determining factors when it comes to planning a funeral and any subsequent gathering.
Disposing Of Human Remains – Highly Regulated
There are a variety of options available for the necessary, and strictly regulated, task of disposing of human remains, ranging from earth burial to cremation to burial at sea. Cremated remains may be kept in an urn, which is interred or placed in a columbarium, they may be scattered on land or water, they may be sent to the ocean’s depths in a weighted container, or even sent into space. Some people, seeking an altered lifespan, may choose to have their bodies cryogenically preserved in the hope of one day being restored to life. According to the Cryogenic Society of America, as of 2015, their products includes everything from cryocoolers, liquefiers, magnets, tanks, test chambers, valves and wire used in ultra-low temperature.
People who die without either planning their funerals or making their final wishes known leave their children and extended family with the responsibility of making numerous decisions within a very short time frame — a task made all the more difficult by their grief.
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