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5 Ways Funerals Are Different Today Than 100 Years Ago 

Published: October 29, 2021

Rituals in honor and remembrance of the departed have been a part of our history going back thousands and thousands of years. How we view dying, how we gather in grief, and how we pay tribute to the departed has been ever-changing. There is one constant, though, and that’s how we’ve always found comfort, meaning, and solace in collectively gathering to mourn and acknowledge loss. That such a tradition still continues today speaks volumes.

A Shift Toward Celebration

Funeral services from 100 years ago were often dark, somber events and very religious and ritualistic in nature, while today’s are often meant to be uplifting, personalized, and designed to tell the life story of the departed.

This is not to say that spiritual or religious aspects are not still an important part of many funerals, or that they are not still sorrowful events, only that the bounds that once defined a funeral have loosened and families and individuals now have more flexibility in choosing how to honor the departed.

Celebrations of life or memorial services are becoming more common as families look to honor the life of a loved one in an inspirational and uplifting way.

Cremation Has Become More Common

In the next few years, cremations are projected to be double that of burials. Why the shift? One reason is that many religious taboos concerning cremation have relaxed. Another is simply that cremation is a good fit for some families.

It may be helpful for you to know that cremation doesn’t have to limit a person’s options. It’s still possible to have a full funeral service including visitation, viewing, and burial, even if cremation is chosen.

The Funeral Venue Has Expanded

A little more than 100 years ago, funerals often took place in the home of the deceased or that of a relative, usually in the “parlour”—a room often having been built with the intention of accommodating funerals.

Family-owned and operated funeral home businesses eventually became commonplace, giving families the option of holding funeral services elsewhere. Nowadays, there are both locally-owned and family-operated funeral homes, like Raynor & D’ Andrea Funeral Home, as well as corporate-owned funeral home chains.

Today’s funerals aren’t beholden to any particular location. It is not unheard of for services to take place on a beach, at a golf club, or a park. While many still do opt for services to be held in a place of worship or at a funeral home chapel, there is flexibility, and most funeral homes are happy to help families select a location that’s right for them.

Obituaries as Life Tributes

Obituaries of today are often impressive literary works. Rather than limiting the obituary to the basic details, such as when and where the funeral services will take place, many venture beyond, offering intimate and inspiring details of a person’s life—often reading like a story—leaving the reader, despite being a stranger, feeling a connection.

Some people are writing their own obituary in advance of their death as part of their funeral pre-planning, which brings us to this next difference . . . 

More See Planning Ahead as an Opportunity

Pre-planning means figuring out the details of your funeral in advance of your death. Your funeral plan is essentially composed of what we like to call “end of life wishes.”

The idea of pre-planning one’s funeral was not really even a thought 100 years ago. Today, people often see wisdom in planning ahead this way. Knowing their wishes will be carried out, eliminating the financial burden that would otherwise be placed on their loved ones, and sparing loved ones from having to guess at their wishes are all some of the reasons why pre-planning is becoming more common.

Though Traditions Change, Funerals Still Help to Heal

Since ancient times, funerals have been a comforting tradition. Funerals bring families and friends together in shared grief and help us acknowledge loss. It’s a vital ritual that moves us toward the path of healing.

No matter what your visions for a funeral are, whether they are traditional, contemporary, or somewhere in between, we are happy to accommodate you and your family’s needs. Please reach out to us, Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Home, at (800) 737-0017. Or you can message us here.

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