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Funeral or Celebration? How Services Have Changed

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Funeral services used to be relatively standard affairs. Casket, officiant, prayers and burial. Nowadays? Gone are the rules, according to Dignity Memorial® representatives.

Much of those changes have come about as a result of the growing popularity of cremation. According to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), Canada's rate of cremation – 68.8% in 2015 and 2014 – continues to be much higher than in the United States, reflecting a trend that has been true since the early 1960s.

In 2015, every Canadian province bordering the United States recorded a cremation percentage rate of more than 61%, except for Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. CANA projects that Canada's cremation rate will be 74.2% in 2020.

“In previous decades, there was the assumption that wanting cremation meant that you didn’t want a memorial service, but this is simply not the case anymore,” said Jay Branton, managing director, Dignity Memorial in Eastern Canada. “What cremation has allowed is time – an opportunity to take care of a family’s immediate needs without a ticking clock. Traditional burials usually happen three or four days after a death. Cremation gives people the time to come together later. That’s very common now.”

Time also allows families the opportunity to plan and create more of a celebration for their loved ones. “There’s a lot more personalization today than there was in the past,” Branton noted.

“A celebration of life is still respectful, and in no way diminishes the somber nature of the gathering,” Branton said. “While elements of the more traditional services of the past are still a key piece of many services, people today who want religious services are also opting to include some non-religious elements, such as secular music or poetry. The service can include clergy, but it doesn’t have to. Today you see celebrants or even a master of ceremonies.”

Successful funeral companies have evolved to include reception rooms, catering and technology that supports videos and slide shows.

According to Branton, some things do remain the same, though. “Families still want to get together and share stories, and have the opportunity to say goodbye. People still want to share a life well-lived. Now the stories are told through videos and photos.”


Additional Resources:

5 Ways to Create a Personalized Memorial Service
How to Begin the Final Wishes Conversation
Compose Your Life Song Music Generator

Last revised: February 23, 2018

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