This is the fourth part in a series where we will explore new trends and ideas, their possible impact on funeral homes, as well as the opinions funeral directors have about the future of funerals. Read part three here.
The funeral home has come a long way since the parlor room in the family home. It was new ideas and technology, like embalming and the founding of the NFDA, that helped move the funeral home into its own professional facility. But now what we consider the “modern” funeral home is evolving again.
Why the Funeral Home is Changing
Just as it did in the past, the funeral home is adapting. The changes we are seeing reflect the new trends and ideas that society has about death.
Here’s a list of common reasons the funeral home is updating its facilities:
- To maintain or create a competitive advantage.
- To meet new trends like more personalization or the rise in cremation.
- To refresh and restore old and outdated facility features.
- To meet new or changing city codes or regulations.
- To take advantage of new real estate for sale in the city.
Funeral home owners are taking the opportunity to update and redefine their business. Let’s take a look at some of the more recent innovations when it comes to the funeral home and how it changes the way we picture what’s traditional.
Modern Funeral Home
Today’s funeral home is starting to reject the dark, somber colors and décor that we’ve come to recognize it for. Instead, funeral directors opt for brighter and more inviting colors.
But what other changes has the funeral home seen in the past couple years?
More Focus on Interior Design and Architecture
Funeral homes are taking the initiative when it comes to the design and layout of the facility. Funeral directors want families to feel at home. They have fireplaces, big comfortable couches, spacious open rooms with vaulted ceilings and large windows.
Some funeral directors are thinking outside the box. Why have a funeral home that’s just for funerals? Why not incorporate other life events into the mix? Some funeral homes like this one in Moline, Illinois, are adopting the practice of hosting different events like birthdays, anniversaries, and even weddings. The idea is to turn the funeral home into a community center for the important milestones of a person’s life.
Wine and Dine
Keeping with the one-stop shop concept, funeral homes are installing catering kitchens, banquet halls, reception lounges, and bars. In addition to selling catering packages, some have even gotten licensed to serve and distribute alcohol in their funeral home. They even personalize the catering packages so that a family can enjoy a meal made from recipes of the deceased.
Funeral homes are embracing technology. Smart TVs and high-tech sound systems are used both for funeral services and to create an inviting hospitality in the lobby. They offer families Wi-Fi and funeral webcasting services. Technology is incorporated in different ways to make services more meaningful to families and to make them feel more comfortable.
These are all innovations that have happened over the last 20 years. What will the next few decades bring for funeral homes?
High-Tech, Immersive, and Communal
It’s impossible to predict the future. But if current trends continue, the funeral home will continue to evolve to reflect those trends.
The funeral home of the future, aided by technology, will provide families with an interactive and immersive ceremony. The integration of massive displays or video walls could be a possibility.
These displays are massive and can wrap around more than one wall. Some encompass the whole room. The video walls can display one continuous video or photos and information about the deceased. They could depict a favorite landscape or places the deceased loved to visit. Social tributes posted by family members could show up in real time on the wall. The displays would allow for an interactive and virtual tour of the deceased’s life.
Ceremonies will play an important part in honoring the dead, even if more people are choosing cremation. Funeral homes will look more like the memorial centers in Moline or Waynesville, NC,— catering to milestone events (birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, proms, etc.) that incorporate the community.
This rebranding as a community center would facilitate more business for the funeral home, but also deepen its ties to the community. Funeral homes, especially in smaller communities, would come to be known almost like a town square.
The funeral home also could become a significant historical center for the community. In smaller towns where resources are limited, the funeral home of the future could play a role in documenting and displaying the town’s history and ancestry. Like a mini-museum, there could be a room dedicated to presenting and preserving the stories of the deceased for future generations of the community.
The funeral home has seen a lot of changes and more are on the horizon. While the building itself changes, the compassion of the funeral director inside never does.