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Creative and Personal Alternatives to Traditional FuneralsBaby Boomers have led the way for countless emerging trends in many aspects of life for decades. It turns out, end-of-life issues pose no exception. Funerals and memorial services are being made more distinctive and individual as people exercise more choice in how they wish to be remembered when they die. These days, some of the preparations begin before death. As more people feel the desire to go beyond a simple written request for their memorial or funeral, new services are stepping in to help meet the need.

Death Midwifery

As with a birth midwife, a death midwife is dedicated to helping a person through a difficult transition. A midwife may provide a number of services that assist a person in their time of dying. She or he may be a conduit for communication, helping the dying person to adequately express his or her wishes and then providing the support to carry them out. A midwife may have conversations with the dying person about end-of-life preferences that may be difficult to have with friends or family. The midwife may be a source of support for both the dying and the survivors in an emotional and stressful time.

Home Funerals

There is a growing number of people who would prefer to have a home funeral over one in a funeral parlor or other remote location. In an era when death may be much medicalized and in which people frequently experience the end of their lives in hospitals and care centers, a home funeral may sound more intimate and warm. There is no law preventing a home funeral in any of the 50 states, but some restrictions apply depending on the location. For example, many states require the body to be embalmed or to be resting on dry ice 24 hours after the death. A death certificate is usually required within 72 hours.

Reasons for Choosing a Non-Traditional Path

It may be argued that arrangements such as a home funeral are far more traditional than the funeral parlor and church services we have generally come to expect in recent decades. A return to a home-based ceremony may come about for a variety of reasons:

  • Lower costs
  • More control over the experience
  • The desire to avoid affiliation with a specific religious organization
  • The opportunity to create a unique expression of spirituality
  • Less formality

Celebrations of Life

Even funeral directors who work in very traditional settings report that people are interested in making more personal choices regarding memorials and funerals. The person who leads the service may not necessarily be associated with a church or religious organization. Often the officiant is someone close to the person who died and to the family or group. Anyone may perform a funeral service. There is a wealth of support and guidance available at Not only may a prospective officiant become a minister using the Get Ordained™ service almost instantly, he or she may discover sample services, suggestions and more, to help provide just the right experience. Friends and family may wish to produce a slideshow of photographs, put together a playlist of music or even construct a special theme for the service.

Living Funerals

Living funerals are a relatively recent development in the discussion of memorials. As the name suggests, this type of celebration precedes death, although it is typically intended to acknowledge the end of a life. While a living funeral may at first seem to be the ultimate in control, many who have explored this experience appreciate the opportunities it provides for people to express themselves and their emotions to the dying. This ceremony and celebration may be guided by an officiant, or may be an entirely informal affair. The purpose remains the same, and that is to help people find solace and closure around the death of someone important to them.

Category: Funeral Ceremonies


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