PHOENIX - Traditions surrounding death are so important to a family, and at times, it appears that making changes to those traditions may seem either close to impossible, or otherwise require a seismic shift.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, a trend of online funerals started to take off, and now, a new national report states this trend may be here to stay.
Here's what you should know about this change in how the country is remembering those who have passed on.
Who published the report?
The National Funeral Directors Association published the report.
What does the report find?
According to the report, which was released in August, more than half of all funeral homes that are members of NFDA began to offer livestreaming services as a way to help families safely gather, while following restrictions on public gatherings during the pandemic.
"The funeral procession has really been impacted by COVID, and the way we did things before is not the way we’re doing things now," said Karoline Davidson with after.com, a regional startup that offers online services.
The report also found that 40% of their members now offer online cremation arrangements, while another 28.2% plan to offer the ability to make cremation arrangements online within the next five years..
How big is this change?
Davidson with after.com said that the funeral profession is "traditionally very slow to change and embrace technology."
"During the pandemic, we saw so many people that were unable or unwilling because of COVID to come in to make arrangements in person, so offering that online service for families makes things easier," said Davidsosn
What are officials with local funeral homes saying?
Officials with one funeral home in Gilbert largely echoed the report from NFDA.
"It’s gotten to the point most people expect there will be a streaming option for services," said Bryce Bunker with Gilbert Memorial Park and Cemetery. "With COVID and the adjustments we’ve made, some things have returned to normal and some things have stayed, and I think streaming has become a consistent expectation, even as we’ve gone back to gathering together again."
Bunker said so far in 2022, their funeral streams have been watched by people in 18 countries, and in 48 of the 50 states.
What about families? What are they saying about online funeral arrangements?
According to the NFDA's 2022 Consumer Awareness and Preferences Report, while many more consumers are venturing online to plan a funeral or memorial service, 53.7% of them noted that while they had a good experience, they still needed the assistance of a funeral director.
"Nearly 10% indicated they did not get the personalized service they would have received had they worked with a funeral director and just over 1% said planning online was impersonal and not a good experience for their family," read a portion of the report.
Are there other changes to funeral traditions since the start of the Pandemic?
According to the NFDA's 2021 Cremation and Burial Report, more Americans view religion as a crucial component in a funeral.
"In 2012, almost half of Americans over age 40 viewed religion as an important component of a funeral, dropping to 35.4% by 2019. Today, that percentage is back up to 47.3%," read a portion of the report, which was released on July 29, 2021.