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Types of Funerals: 11 Modern Trends In 2023

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It may be hard to imagine funerals as having trends in the same way that weddings or birthday celebrations do, but funerals are just as prone to adjusting to the times as anything else in life.

For many people, religious and cultural values remain important in paying their respects to a loved one and saying their goodbyes. Therefore, traditional funeral services, including viewing and memorial, remain consistently among the most popular options for final arrangements.

However, these traditions no longer dictate how most funerals are conducted as several new opportunities have emerged with the ever-changing times.

Today’s technology, personalization, and creativity are some driving factors in the changes within the funeral services industry. As a result, families seek ways to hold unique services that honor and celebrate their loved ones more than ever.

From burials under the sea to sending ashes into outer space, these are some of the newer and unique options of popular trends in modern-day funerals. Keep reading as we have rounded up 11 of the most popular trends in modern funerals in 2023.

Number One: Live Stream Funerals

Funeral Trends - Livestream FuneralsVirtual and live stream funerals were already a major trend before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the regulations of the pandemic heightened this trend and made it one of the most notable changes to the funeral industry in decades.

Travel and gathering limitations made traditional services impossible, and families worldwide used Zoom and other webcasting platforms to broadcast funerals. Even as restrictions began to lift, this offering stayed in place.

It’s expected that live streaming funerals will remain a standard for decades. Although the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic won’t always be with us, live stream funerals will still be an excellent way for friends and family members who cannot make it to an in-person funeral to attend the service.

You can find professional streaming services to take a high-quality video of the service for the live stream. Many funeral homes might already have a service or two they prefer to work with.

Number Two: Direct Cremation Service

Funeral Trends - Direct Cremation ServiceA direct cremation is a low-cost final arrangement option. It’s become popular for families looking to save on funeral and final disposition costs.

A direct cremation is a simple process that skips funeral services and body preparation options. Instead, the deceased person’s body is cremated soon after their death. This keeps costs down by eliminating much of the additional services required for a traditional funeral with a memorial service.

Some funeral homes have their own crematoriums onsite and offer direct cremations. Other funeral homes work closely with crematoriums to provide this service.

Direct cremation returns the remains to the family in an urn of their choosing. It can allow families time to plan for another service later or memorialize at a later time.

Number Three: Pre-Planned Funerals

Funeral Trends - Pre-Planned FuneralsIt’s become a lot more common in recent years to pre-plan your funeral. Talking openly about both death and money is much less taboo now than decades ago, and it’s not unusual for younger Americans to have a plan for their financial futures, including their deaths. Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have increased these conversations within this trend.

Pre-planned funerals can take the stress off of family and friends during a time of grief. Nearly all funeral homes offer pre-planned funeral options, allowing you to select every detail of your funeral service and then either pay for the costs all at once or set up a payment plan. 

This ensures you’ll have the service you want and that your family won’t be burned with financial or logistical stress. Plus, it can allow you to plan something highly personal and suited to your unique and individual tastes.

Number Four: Personalized or Themed Funerals

Funeral Trends - Personalized FuneralsIn the past, funerals were primarily guided by religious and cultural traditions. However, today, more and more people are breaking away from traditional funerals and looking for personalized and creative services.

Whether a funeral is pre-planned by the deceased or set up by their family, it’s become increasingly popular to create a one-of-a-kind service that celebrates the person.

The funeral industry has kept up with this trend, and today there are a wide array of products available to build a ceremony and memorial that fits the service you have in mind.

You can find memorial stones, urns, plaques, flowers, and other products. Often, you can have products engraved or altered to make them even more personal.

Additionally, it’s becoming common for the ceremony to have an overriding theme representing the deceased person. This might mean using their favorite color throughout the ceremony or incorporating their favorite hobby, place, or film elements.

These touches can help you remember and celebrate the deceased in a truly memorable way.

Number Five: Remembrance Services

Funeral Trends - Remembrance ServicesRemembrance services are a type of memorial service held weeks or months after the deceased has passed. These events are another funeral option that became popular during COVID-19.

For families who were unable to hold funerals during the pandemic due to gathering restrictions, these services were a way for families to gather and celebrate the deceased’s life once restrictions had been lifted.

Remembrance services also give families time to plan details and create memorable events to honor their loved ones. Sometimes, families who opt for remembrance services have also opted for direct cremation and will have the urn present at the service. The family might choose to place the urn into a burial vault at this time.

Number Six: Green Funerals

Funeral Trends - Green FuneralsSurveys consistently show that most Americans are concerned about the environment, so it’s not surprising that green and sustainable funerals are one of the top funeral trends.

Green funeral choices can be as simple as skipping embalming and choosing a biodegradable casket, urn, or clothing. Biodegradable caskets can be made of wood or wicker, and biodegradable urns can be made of wood or cardboard.

Popular eco-friendly cremation and burial options include:

Mushroom Burial Suit – The mushroom burial suit, created by Jae Rhim, founder of the company Coeio, is an entirely biodegradable garment worn by the deceased. It is made up of mushrooms and other microorganisms that neutralize toxins found in the body, transferring nutrients to plant life. In addition to the mushroom burial suit, other available products include a burial shroud made from organic cotton and infused with a bio-mix just as the suit.

Aqua Cremation – The Aqua cremation process does not use fire or flame but rather a combination of water flow, temperature, and alkalinity to accelerate the natural process of tissue hydrolysis. Aqua cremation does not utilize acid to dissolve the body. Instead, it uses alkaline hydrolysis, the complete opposite of acid.

Living Urn A living urn is an option that allows cremated ashes to be buried with a young tree inside a specially-made urn. This makes a positive environmental impact and creates a beautiful memorial for families to visit. The company offers multiple tree options and partners with parks and cemeteries to provide space to plant. You can also choose to use your yard or garden space.

Neptune Memorial Reef – Neptune Memorial Reef is located off the coast of Key Biscayne, near Miami. The site was designed to attract marine wildlife and is certified by the EPA,  Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Environmental Resources Management. Individuals, families, and even pets can choose to use the reef as their final resting place. The reef is in clear water and is a dive site that allows families to visit the remains and see how the reef is growing.

Number Seven: Home Funerals

Funeral Trends - Home FuneralsHosting funerals at home is another recent trend that’s begun to take hold. These funerals cut down on costs and allow for a more personal experience.

For some families, they can also help begin the healing process. Services to assist with at-home funerals are starting to appear around the country.

You might find these services listed as:

  • Death Midwives
  • Death Doulas
  • End-of-Life Doulas

These professionals help with home funerals, body preparations, and logistics. Many also provide grief counseling.

Number Eight: Family and Loved One Participation

Funeral Trends - Family ParticipationFamilies and loved ones have become more hands-on in the past several years. Far beyond planning and attending, today’s families request to be an active part of the burial process. Examples include:

  • Washing and dressing the body Family members sometimes assist a licensed funeral professional with the washing and dressing of the body of their loved one.
  • Digging the grave Families throwing dirt on the grave of their loved one has long been a funeral tradition. However, some families have begun requesting to assist in actual digging in recent years. 
  • Witnessing the cremation Some religious traditions have always required a family witness to cremation. In recent years, it’s become more common for people of all religions and cultures to request to witness the cremation. Some crematoriums allow family members to push the button that begins the process.

Number Nine: Online Funeral Planning

Funeral Trends - Online Funeral PlanningIt’s no secret that you can buy just about anything online. In recent years, that’s come to include funeral and burial needs.

While it was common to get everything from one funeral home in the past, families today are comparison shopping and using the internet to order everything from caskets to flowers. It’s not all giant box online retailers, either.

Funeral homes can have smartphone apps or live chat options on their website, local florists might run a great deal through Groupon, and the string musicians you want to play at the funeral service could advertise their services on Instagram.

These options allow families to use the internet to create funerals that fit the deceased person and fit their budget.

Number Ten: Cremation Jewelry

Funeral Trends - Cremation JewelryMemorial jewelry created from the ashes of your loved one is rising in popularity. Charms that hold bits of ashes are a popular choice, especially because they’re available in various shapes and sizes.

You can choose a charm shape representing the deceased person and your relationship with them. It’s also possible to fuse your loved one’s ashes in a lab to create a synthetic gem called a memorial diamond.

This process takes longer than putting ashes into a charm. You’ll have to wait about 7 to 10 months. However, the result is a diamond-like stone that will last for generations.

Thumbprint jewelry is another option that is growing in popularity. This choice doesn’t use cremated remains, but it does allow you to keep a bit of your loved one with you.

Instead of ashes, this option is a pendant created from an impression of your family member’s thumbprint. It’s an excellent alternative to standard cremation jewelry.

Number Ten: Cremation Burial Alternatives

Funeral Trends - Cremation AlternativesCremations are an increasingly popular choice. Experts have reported that cremation has become so popular that since 2015 it has surpassed the number of traditional burials year after year.

Along with this rise in the popularity of cremation, there has also been a rise in the popularity of some alternative ways to handle cremated remains. While many still choose to scatter ashes, place cremation urns in cemetery vaults, or bury cremated remains, other options are available.

Some trends for cremated remains include: 

  • Memory Glass Memory glass is a solid glass ball that contains a small amount of your loved one’s ashes. The glass is hand-spun and available in a variety of colors. Since only a small amount of the deceased’s ashes are inside each memory glass ball, several can be made and distributed amongst family members.
  • Parting Stones Similar to memory glass, parting stones are smooth stones made from the ashes of the disease that can be distributed amongst family members. The stones are small enough to be kept in a pocket and well-crafted enough to be placed on display.
  • Space Burials – You can have a small portion of your remains sent into space. A few different companies offer this service, and costs start at less than the price of a traditional funeral. If you’re not on a budget, you can choose to have your remains taken to the moon’s surface for around $15,000.

Number Eleven: Online Grief Counseling

Funeral Trends - Online CounselingThe COVID-19 pandemic turned telehealth into a staple of the healthcare industry. But, much like live stream funerals, it’s not expected to go anywhere in the years to come.

One major facet of telehealth, especially during the pandemic, has been mental health and online grief counseling. People have been isolated, away from friends and family, facing loss, and unable to attend funerals in person.

Although live stream funerals can help, attending funerals has long been part of the human grief and healing process. So it’s no wonder that so many turned to online grief counseling during the pandemic.

The service will have benefits long after the pandemic ends. Online grief counseling allows you to seek help and process emotions. It can be done from the comfort of your home or during your lunch break at work.

It’s a lot easier to fit into your schedule than visits to regular therapists, making it more likely that people will take the time to do it. Plus, many online grief counseling programs have the option to text or live chat with a counselor and allow you to have appointments at night or on the weekend.

How Life Insurance Can Help Pay for Funeral Costs

Whether you would like to be launched into space, placed in a coral reef, turned into a gemstone, or celebrated with a small memorial, costs will be associated. The exact cost of your funeral will depend on which options you choose.

For instance, the average funeral cost in 2023 was just shy of $10,000. The most basic cremation costs an average of $2,195 and can be much higher when you add additional services such as flowers, obituaries, vaults, memorial booklets, and other items.

That’s why it’s a good idea to plan your funeral ahead and get at least a rough idea of how much it might cost. You can search online or contact funeral homes in your area to begin comparing prices. Once you know how much your funeral will cost, you can factor it into your life insurance policy.

A final expense policy is designed to pay a lump-sum death benefit that can be used to cover all the costs of your funeral and final medical expenses. The death benefit can help your family by lessening the potential financial burden, so they do not need to scramble for the funds to pay the bill.

You can generally get policies of up to $25,000. You won’t need to take a medical exam to get this type of policy, and the plans have guaranteed cash value growth. Plus, there are permanent, meaning the coverage will never expire. 

Final Thought

Funeral trends have changed over the years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has left many permanent marks on the funeral industry. Options such as live funeral streams are likely to stay, and the popularity of direct cremation and remembrance ceremonies is also expected to last.

Plus, while cultural and religious traditions dictated past funerals, many people today opt for funerals that reflect their personalities or allow for unique burial options.

No matter what funeral option appeals to you, it’s best to have money set aside to pay for it. A final expense policy is a great way to leave behind up to $25,000 without a medical exam.

If that’s not enough coverage to meet your needs, consider a term life policy. A term life policy can cover your funeral costs and replace your income. Plus, you can get an excellent term life policy without a medical exam.

At No Medical Exam Quotes, we can show you quotes from the top no medical exam companies. In addition, you can fill out our no-obligation form today to see how you can get up to $1,000,000 without a medical exam.

Picture of Jeffrey Manola - Life Insurance Expert
Jeffrey Manola - Life Insurance Expert

Jeffrey Manola is the founder of No Medical Exam Quotes, an online insurance agency that strongly focuses on helping people shop for the perfect life insurance policy. He is a licensed life insurance expert and content creator for the website.

Before becoming a life insurance agent, he served in the United States Marine Corps, transitioning from serving his country to helping families find affordable life insurance coverage beginning in 2009. Since starting a career as a licensed life insurance agent, Jeffrey has helped thousands of families with their life insurance needs.

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