Across the Pond...
How our cousins in the USA are re-shaping their funeral industry.
The United Kingdom shares a lot in common with USA. There is a linguistic affinity, both experienced mass immigration in the 1900s that helped shaped their modern societies, and to a certain extent, the customs and values upheld by their citizens are very similar. But when it comes to the funeral service industry, how do our continental cousins differ?
Cremation has been more popular than burial in the U.K. for a number of years, and according to the Cremation Society of Great Britain, 75% of people are cremated at present. In the U.S., however, it was only in 2015 that the rate of cremation finally surpassed that of burials according to the 2016 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report.
While the cremation rate in the UK will rarely differ depending on location, in the U.S., Nevada and Washington State’s rate is just shy of 75%, whereas Mississippi’s is less than 20%, according to a report by the Cremation Association of North America (CANA).
New York-based journalist, Hilary Potkewitz, spent some time researching the city’s funeral industry and believes that just like the rest of the country; it is experiencing a transitional period with cremations on the rise.
“The death-care industry is going through major shifts nationwide as customs evolve. Families are more spread out, so multiday wakes are less common. Cremation, which costs half what traditional services do, is becoming more popular,” she says.
Personalisation is another trend gaining ground in the USA, with more people planning funeral services that reflect the passions, hobbies and interest of the person who has passed away. During her research, Potkewitz observed one funeral home that was using modern technology to offer a new level of personalised service.
“The most cutting edge funeral home I’ve witnessed was one that has set-up an app that allows families and friends to record a memory, spoken word or story about deceased from wherever they are in the world.
“The funeral home would then create a video montage that would play during the service on iPads around the room. It’s a great way for relatives to see their relative through the eyes of other people,” says Potkewitz.
The drop in death rates in the USA is also starting to have an impact on funeral homes around the