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Changes in the Traditional Funeral Through out history the traditional funeral has changed. Often influenced by religion, culture and popular trends. Currently we have more options than ever, and with new ideas, new technology, and reappearance of older traditions. The traditional funeral will continue to change. Funerals have always been in flux. We no longer do funerals at night by torchlight, nor do we give out monkey spoons or provide clothes for the mourners. Some traditions fall by the wayside, while new ones are always popping up. There are just more options available now than ever before. In fact the term traditional funeral is a bit of a misnomer. What we call a traditional funeral today isn't that old, You really have to define the word traditional. Be it based on religion or culture. There is traditional Catholic, traditional Jewish, traditional Muslim and many more. We might call what we have now a traditional funeral, but that isn't the case, we just use the term because it is easy. We would be more accurate to call it a standard funeral. To keep it simple we will say the traditional or standard funeral starts with embalming, a viewing in a casket, a service either in a church, chapel or graveside, then burial. Now that will vary based on religion, region, or personal preference. I wont be getting into non-standard cemeteries or markers except when part of the funeral it's self. Cremation has become so common we can even consider that traditional now. What would make a cremation non-traditional or non-standard would be what is done with the cremains after cremation. We could break it down into several basic groups. You would have the standard funeral, based on local tradition, and religion. Then the standard funeral with modifications. Then you would have the totally non-standard funeral. You would also have standard cremations and cremations with non-standard modifications. The list is endless, only limited by a person's imagination, desires and money. We have the standard funeral with changes. With modern technology they are now video taped and recorded on DVD. Sometimes it will be broadcasted on the Internet so those that can not be there can watch the service, the service might even be put on a webpage so it may be viewed later by anyone. Often during the service or the visitation a television will be brought in and a tribute presentation will be shown. Some people go as far as getting high tech caskets with computers or cameras in them. Some will just put a live cel phone in the casket. The state room might be set up to look like a room in the deceased home, or made to reflect the person's life. Those are just a few examples. We have also seen these changes in weddings and even births. Many people are choosing not to have traditional church weddings, instead they might have it at home or in the woods, making their own vows instead of using the traditional wedding vows. The reasons might be personal, to save money or to be more environmentally friendly. Some women are even choosing not to have childbirth in a hospital. Some are having them at home, in birthing centers or even in swimming pools. We are in a changing time. With your non-standard funerals you have, Home funerals, Green funerals, even mummification. Your home funeral and the green funeral are very similar. There is no embalming with either one. The home funeral the family will do it all, They will bathe and dress the body and lay the body out in the home for visitation. Then the family will take the body to the cemetery or crematory themselves. Some people just want to make the funeral more unique, so it will reflect the deceased life. Sometimes as simple as not having the funeral or memorial service in a church or chapel. Instead opting to do something more personal. If the deceased loved the sea, then they might have the service near the ocean, or someplace special to the deceased. It would be a simple change for the funeral director, nothing more than just changing the location, and getting any required permits, and getting everything that is required to the place that the service will be held. Much like a graveside service, but not at the cemetery. The green funeral can be done through a funeral home. There would be no embalming. There would be no casket or it would be bio-degradable. The cemetery would either be a green cemetery or a regular cemetery with a green section allowing just bodies that fall into the green cemetery category to be buried there. There is also mummification, rare but some people have chosen it. A new but still rare form is plastination. A process where the body is boiled to remove water, while latex is allowed to fill in the places where there was water. Allowing bodies to be used for museum exhibits. Then there is cyrogenics where you have your body frozen to be brought back to life sometime in the future. One can not forget to mention donating the body to science. These are basically just forms of disposition of the body, but when you add a memorial service to it, you have another type of funeral. Just like with a cremation. With cremation you have many options. The most common are the direct cremation, or the cremation after an embalming with a viewing and maybe even a standard church or chapel service. Some crematories have viewing rooms so the family can watch the cremation. After the cremation there are many options a family has. The cremains may be put in an urn, and kept at the families home, buried or placed in a mausoleum, or kept in bits of jewelry. Other options include scattering the cremains. at sea or another place special to the family. The cremains can be put in a balloon and released, or sent into space. Some even choose to have the cremains mixed with paint and a portrait created. Cremains can even be turned into diamonds. One could write pages and pages of all the different ways of handling a body or cremains, with all the different variations of each one. Being funeral directors we need to recognize that there are going to be different types of services. The days of cookie cutter funerals is pretty much done for. Some funeral homes are embracing this already. They offer green funerals and assistance with home funerals. One has gone as far as to have theme based state rooms. Such as big mammas kitchen, a state room that looks like a kitchen that you can even cook in, or a sports themed room. As done as Wade's Funeral Home in St. Louis. It was a big enough deal that the CBS “The Early Show” did a 3 part report on it. Even finding a new title for these special funeral directors “Funeral Concierge” With the exception of the really unusual and highly detailed funeral there is no reason that the average funeral director couldn't handle it. They just need to have the patience and the willingness to do a little research to create the funeral the family wants. We can't look at these people wanting non-standard funerals as nutcases, or burdens to our jobs. Instead we should view them as a challenge and a chance to increase our skills and abilities. Everything in life changes. That includes what we call the traditional funeral. It has always been like that and it always will be. Now even though funerals have always changed, they are becoming more different and more individual in resent years and will continue to change even more. They say it is because of the baby boomers, some say because of the me generation. I really doubt that the only reason. As stated before, availability of new technology has made a lot of these new funerals possible. Some people just want their funerals to be unique, or more likely just want the funeral to be a reflection of the persons life. Much more than just summing the person's life up in the eulogy. The funeral in a way will take on the person's personality. There are those that do it out of consideration for the environment. Some want to get back to older traditions, and some even want to create their own traditions. I could list over a 100 websites dealing with new or different types of funerals. Then the next day there would be a 100 new ones. It would be impossible to know about all the possibilities. We just have to be open minded. I know that I am going to use the Life Legacy program. Donate my body to science, Then when my cremains are returned a memorial service in a home or bar. Showing my love of country music and my sense of humor. I want the song “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, and the Video “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox” by Joe Difie. Then my cremains will be scatted at the family cabin where the cremains of my grandparents and my father have been scattered. That isn't so different from most funerals, but it works as symbol of who I was. That is what a lot of people are really striving for in the funerals they are creating. Even while done a bit differently, in some ways much like what the Egyptians did with their funerals, the fancy sarcophagus was a statement of who that person was, and what they did. If you really look at it, except for what we add with modern technology, are any of these new ideas for funerals really new? Or are people taking something from the past that isn't used so often now and putting a modern twist to it? How much of what we see now that we would consider non-standard can be found with roots in the past? Thus showing that we can't really use the word non-traditional. They are just traditions from another time and place. Mix with that the desire people have to be their own person, and not just part of the crowd. I think the only thing holding many people back from doing it that way is, money, being considered a freak, or fear of offending their religious order. It is not for us as funeral directors to judge, instead we are to be facilitators of the wishes of the family and the deceased. CBS News, The Early Show series “Funerals to Die For, Feb 2008, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/25/earlyshow/series/main3872511.shtml Christian Richardson, n.d., Funeral director's job changes with the times, Mar 2008 http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2006/01/04/news/top/53344be73bd0d6eb86257 0ec00178a2a.txt LaVone V. Hazell, Oct 1997, Cross-Cultural Funeral Rites, Mar 2008, http://www.biomed.lib.umn.edu/hw/ccf.html USA Today, author not named, Aug 1998, Changes forecast for 21st century. Mar 2008 http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-21098135.html Carolyn Y. Johnson, Nov 2007, The funeral industry increasingly goes digital, Mar 2008 http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/28/business/funeral.php Allen P. Roberts, Jr., Jan 2006, Funeral industry trying new tricks to stay lively, Mar 2008 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m5072/is_5_28/ai_n16084311 Joe Zentis, Feb 2008, Funeral directors don’t see advantage in online expansion, Mar 2008, http://www.sharonherald.com/local/local_story_033215042.html Brent Adams, July 2001, Scott Funeral Home investing $2 million in new facility, Mar 2008, http://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/stories/2001/07/09/story6.html Wendy Koch, Oct 2006, New creations personalize cremation, Mar 2008, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-19-urns_x.htm Assocated Press- Author not named, July 2005, Heaven sent: Posthumous ride awaits fireworks-loving minister, Mar 2008, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-02-minister-fireworks_x.htm Lonnette Harrell, Nov 2007, Nontraditional Funerals for Baby Boomers: New Trends in Funeral and Burial Services, Mar 2008 http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/440593/nontraditional_funerals_for_baby_boo mers.html Joseph P. Kahn, Sept 2002, Taking the grim out of reaper, Mar 2008, http://www.keohane.com/TakingthegrimoutofreaperA.htm Terri Toles Patkin, n.d., The Parasocial Paradox: How Personalized Funerals Extend Our Relationships Beyond Death, Mar 2008 http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/mso/dd/dd5/Patkin%20paper.pdf John Cunningham, Jan 2002, Personal undertaking, Mar 2008, http://www.greenendings.co.uk/press.htm Andie Brymer, Mar 2007, Green Burial Preserve Breaks Away From Traditional Burial Practices, Mar 2008, http://www.appvoices.org/index.php?/site/voice_stories/green_burial_preserve_breaks_a way_from_traditional_burial_practices/issue/548 NPR transcripts, 1998, Alternative Funerals, Mar 2008, http://www.npr.org/programs/death/980310.death.html Margaret Morris, June 2007, Alternative Funeral Practices Home funerals and green burials are replacing traditional funerals, Mar 2008 http://environmentalism.suite101.com/article.cfm/alternative_funeral_practices Paul Nelson, May 2007, More People are Opting for Alternative Funerals, Mar 2008 http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=1199944 Author not named, Feb 2004, ALTERNATIVE FUNERALS, Mar 2008, http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/southeast/series5/alternative_funerals.shtml Swallowtail Farms webpage http://www.butterfly-gifts.com/funeral-flowers.html Bruce Watson, Feb 2008, Alternative funerals: How to go when you go, Mar 2008 http://www.walletpop.com/2008/02/05/alternative-funerals-how-to-go-when-you-go/ Martin Cizmar, Jan 2006, Digital Funeral, Mar 2008 http://www.dnronline.com/search_details.php?AID=2491&CHID=37&author=&channelid =37&key=&title= Peter Pachal, Mar 2007, Mourning goes digital: Irish undertaker introduces funeral streaming, Mar 2008 http://dvice.com/archives/2007/03/mourning_goes_digital_irish_un.php United States Patent 6324736, Dec 2001, Funeral casket with video display unit, Mar 2008, http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6324736.html Wikipedia, n.d., Space burial, Mar 2008, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_burial Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS, FT, Dec 2006, Chose a Final Resting Place - Burial - Cremation - Space - Sea - Others, Mar 2008, http://dying.about.com/od/finalrestingplace/p/resting_place.htm Several authors, several dates, Fun [?] Funerals, Mar 2008, http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/older_and_under/modern_internment_decoration.htm ARLENE HARDER, MA, MFT, 2006, Unique Funeral Ideas: Planning a Fitting Celebration of a Young Man's Life, Mar 2006, http://www.support4change.com/stages/transformation/grieving/Eli-funeral.html The Associated Press, July 2005, Family has unique viewing at funeral home, Mar 2008, http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2101713 Stacey Day, June 2007, Unusual Funerals, Mar 2008, http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/278370/unusual_funerals.html?all=1 Mealey Funeral Home, n.d., Webpage, Mar 2008, http://www.mealeyfuneralhomes.com/trulyunique.html Michael d'Estries, Mar 2008, Natural Burial Catching On With Americans, Mar 2008, http://www.groovygreen.com/groove/?p=2860 http://www.funeralwire.com/external_news.php?linkId=854 Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Aug 2006, Mummification is the word, Mar 2008, http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/08/20/mummific ation_is_the_word/
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