THANOS magazine

February 4, 2024

Funerals of the future

Will we keep our humanity in the digital age?

By Katarzyna Supa, funeral innovation researcher, editor-in-chief THANOS magazine

Expectations related to funerals are changing. Many countries are experiencing a significant increase in the number of cremations compared to traditional burials. There are at least a few reasons for this - the first is financial, related to the affluence of societies (cremation is usually cheaper), and the second is related to the availability of space in cemeteries. There is a growing interest in aquamation and terramation, although it still represents a minimal percentage of all funerals. Increasingly, clients expect at least some form of personalization of the funeral, whether through its setting or the personal involvement of the family in decorating the coffin or urn. There is also a growing interest in nonreligious funerals. Families expect more environmentally friendly funerals and cemeteries that are more for the living than for the deceased (should resemble green parks, conducive to reflection and meditation). Digital solutions are everywhere. We use them in the management of funeral businesses, but also for the notifications of death and to celebrate the memory of the deceased. Digital cemeteries are also emerging - technology allows us to preserve the resting place in memory, especially when the funeral takes place in memorial forests or we are scattering ashes. Most of us lead a digital life every day, so it's not surprising that our death, funeral, and mourning experience are also becoming digital. Startups are offering emerging interactive funeral ceremonies in virtual reality, apps supporting the grieving process, and online support groups. AI helps us write obituaries and even brings the deceased to life based on their previous recordings or preserved photos. The topic of death has also become more common - it has become more present in our lives "thanks to" the pandemic, the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East... We talk more willingly and with less taboo about death, dedicating more attention to mourning and psychological support during this time.
These are my observations, but what do FIAT-IFTA members have to say?

In winter issue of THANOS magazine, we pose the question of changing funeral customs - what matters the most: tradition or modernity? We wanted to know the opinions, perspectives, insights, and experiences of our members regarding the changes in funeral customs and what actions they are taking to meet the new expectations of families. What do our members say?

You will find the statements on the following pages of this issue of THANOS magazine.


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