Each discussion I have with funeral directors seems to entail higher and higher-pitched moaning about the speed at which babyboomers are rushing toward direct cremation and alternative funeral services.

Folks, the world moves forward.  Time marches on, and it’s marching all over Traditional Burial.  Pretty soon, it’s bloody corpse will be eulogized right before some baby boomer cremates it because “boring, old funerals just don’t express what Traditional Burial really was.”

But the obituary for Traditional Burial needn’t be the last word on the funeral industry.  If we examine the reasons why so many people are abandoning traditional services, we’ll better understand the types of services they DO want.

Yes, direct cremation is rising.  Yes, people see little value in full-on funeral home services.

But they devalue the typical services provided by typical funeral homes because they are, at heart, soul-less.  A “one size fits all” service is, by definition, the kind that can fit anyone.  Unfortunately, no one looks good in a “one size fits all” caftan and no one is well-served by a cookie-cutter funeral.

Even most direct cremations end in some type of memorial service, but it’s not always held in the funeral home. 

Our society has taught us that services with little value or where the providers offer no differentiation should be chosen by lowest price.  When the level of experience drop-off is minor, the cheapest deal wins the game.

How else to explain people who refuse to pay more than ten bucks for a camping chair at Wal-Mart but will drop more than $20 per person to see a two-hour film?

Because the purchase of the camping chair, however necessary, is not an emotional experience that involves community and nostalgia.

And getting grandma cremated is just as good as the alternative:  a boring, stuffy church funeral where no one mentions how much grandma smoked or drank or tells the gathered friends about her razor-sharp wit or the fingerless gloves she knitted for her punk-rock grandkids.

At least a direct cremation will leave enough money to have a party and private memorial service that REALLY reflects who grandma really was.

People are so used to getting the same, boring funeral that when you offer a truly unique experience (one that gets people to say “Whoa!  That rocks!”) you will see people line up around the block to get it.

Even people you never, ever thought would want what you’re selling. 

amishiphone.jpg
(An Amish couple, looking at the new Apple iPhone)

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