America Is Redefining Memorialization With Evolving Funeral Preferences

Monday, April 30, 2018 General News
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The National Funeral Directors Association Launches New Consumer Website to Guide Americans on How to Honor a Life, Plan a Service and Navigate Grief

BROOKFIELD, Wis., April 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 54 percent of consumers attended a funeral at a nontraditional

location last year, indicating a shift in the conventional funeral, according to the National Funeral Directors Association's (NFDA) 2018 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study. To meet Americans' desire for a personal funeral that reflects their loved one's life, NFDA has created a new consumer website,, to serve as a guide to honoring a life well-lived, from planning a tribute to mourning a loved one.   

NFDA's 2018 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study indicates that Americans are working with funeral directors to plan unique funeral services and tribute events that commemorate the lives of their loved ones.

Key findings from the Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study indicate a decrease in the importance of religion in funeral services (down from 49.5 percent in 2012 to 38.7 percent in 2018). In addition, 45.9 percent of respondents indicated they had attended a funeral presided over by someone other than a member of the clergy and 30.3 percent were willing to consider using a trained celebrant – typically a non-clergy person to officiate a meaningful service.

According to NFDA's study, families continue to celebrate loved ones in new ways.  

  • Green in Life and Death: Just under half of respondents (48 percent) said they would be interested in exploring green memorialization options to reduce the environmental impact of end-of-life rituals. Green services can include use of biodegradable caskets, a formaldehyde-free embalming process, recycled paper products and more.
  • Sentimental Scattering: With cremation outpacing burials (as reported in NFDA's 2017 Cremation and Burial Report), more Americans would prefer their cremated remains be scattered in a sentimental place (51.1 percent) versus burying or interring them in a cemetery (17.6 percent). In addition, just over 40 percent of consumers associate cremation with a memorial service (a five percent increase from the year prior).
  • Services Where Life Happens: A growing number of respondents (54.1 percent) have attended a funeral at a nontraditional location, including a home, outdoor setting, public venue, banquet hall, country club or hotel, rather than at a funeral home, place of worship or cemetery.
  • Funeral Planning Not A Priority: 74.5 percent of consumers indicated it was very important to communicate their funeral plans and wishes to family members prior to their own death; however, only 25.5 percent have prearranged all or part of their funeral.

To meet consumers at all stages of funeral planning, offers guidance on where to begin the planning process, the kinds of decisions that consumers will make and the many options available to make a tribute personal and meaningful. The site highlights information on service options, details about burial and cremation, and prefunding options. If visitors can't find exactly what they are looking for, they can fill out the "Ask a Funeral Expert" form and an experienced professional will get them the information they need or refer them to a local funeral director for further assistance.

In addition to advice on planning a meaningful service, offers resources to help people understand their own and others' grief and loss, as well as a helpful online search tool to find a compassionate NFDA-member funeral director nearby.

"We want everyone who visits to find helpful, practical information that will help them take the next step, whether that be meeting with a funeral director, talking with a loved one about their wishes, finding resources to help them cope with their grief or knowing what to expect when attending a funeral," said NFDA President Ken Cahall.

As the trusted leader and worldwide resource for the funeral service profession, NFDA provides data and information on trends, statistics, issues, and best practices across all facets of death care to inform and educate members, other stakeholders and the public. The Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study is conducted annually to measure consumer perceptions of funeral services. Invitations are emailed to a consumer panel consisting of Americans age 40 and older, with 1,019 individuals completing the study in 2018. The respondents in this year's study were significantly older when compared to the previous years; 41.6 percent were age 65 or older.

About National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA):

NFDA is the world's leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please contact 800-228-6332 or visit


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SOURCE National Funeral Directors Association

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