The Baby Boomer generation, or those born between 1946 and 1965, are currently — to put in a morbid way — “on their way out.” As those born in the Baby Boomer generation get older and die, a clear trend is emerging: many baby boomers are planning funerals which aren’t the typical somber, empty affair which was considered traditional in the past. Traditional funerals tend to take place in churches or other religious areas, feature a casket – perhaps with a bundle of flowers and a photograph on top – and some religious or memorial speeches. Modern funerals, however, run the gamut from simple to extravagant. And Baby Boomer funerals are no exception. To put it in another way… these are not your grandpa’s funerals. Baby Boomer funerals are considered by the funeral industry to be some of the most elaborate funerals outside of those put together for officials and other high-profile people, because Baby Boomers are incorporating an endless amount of personal touches and tweaks to their funeral services. This not only makes a funeral service personalized, but often more expensive–not that funeral directors are complaining!
Traditional funerals often placed the casket at the back of the service area and, most often, surrounded it with a few bunches of flowers and a solitary photograph. Baby Boomer funerals, however, are much more elaborate. The casket will not simply be surrounded by beautiful though impersonal flowers, but by personal memorabilia which celebrates that person’s life–awards, photographs, hobby items, and other prized possessions. Traditional funerals often placed somber, religious music – if any music at all. Baby boomer funerals often feature personalized music, such as the deceased’s favorite song, which can range from a beautiful ballad, a somber opera song, or a cranked-up, crazy rock number. Some funerals may even feature a live performance! Theater-loving Baby Boomers, for example, may put together a live excerpt from a Baby Boomer’s favorite play or musical to be performed at their funeral. Essentially, the sky is the limit when it comes to personalizing a Baby Boomer funeral.
Personalized touches are not the only Baby Boomer funeral trend. Other trends include casket options, like the recently made Memory Safe Drawer. This drawer is an addition to a casket which allows for family, friends and other loved ones to place notes, cards, objects and other mementos into a casket drawer as a way to provide comfort to the grieving.
Other trends take more advantage of modern technology. A popular memorial tribute featured at many Baby Boomer funerals is a video of the deceased, usually set to their favorite music—some may have it played on multimdeia screens set up in the funeral parlor!
The key to understanding Baby Boomer funeral trends is this: think outside the box! Traditional funerals are not the only way to do things and traditional services are no longer the status-quo, as Baby Boomers have shown time and time again.
Other stuff Baby Boomers (BBs) seem to want
Green and Eco-Friendly Funerals
A green funeral may involve no embalming, no manufactured caskets (only biodegradable caskets), no manufactured headstone and instead the use of nature stone markers or GPS is used. Also, placement is typically in a zoned natural cemetery or burial site.
It is estimated that 1/4 of older Americans will want a green funeral. In Australia there is also a large number of BBs who say they are for green or ecologically sound funerals.
The Australian situation seems less clear. Generally industry and focus groups believe there is a demand. A 2006 report to the South Australian Parliament stated:
Consumer demand for environmentally friendly services and products has generated a range of market responses, and a number of `eco' funeral products are now available. These include coffins made of recycled materials or untreated wood, drought tolerant landscaping in cemeteries, and 'carbon offset' programs where consumers can have trees planted to offset the emissions from a funeral or cremation. Cemetery infrastructure such as chapels can also incorporate green design approaches by collecting solar energy and rainwater etc.
A paper from the University of Sydney, entitled "GREEN BURIALS IN AUSTRALIA AND THEIR PLANNING CHALLENGES" concluded
If the concept of green burials is to have any degree of success in Australia, burial operators, land managers and planning authorities cannot simply transplant the practices employed in North America or Europe into the Australian context. Should the concept become as successful in Australia as it has already become globally, planners will need to understand the concept and its implications on the use of land for burials.
There are a number of new companies popping up that will now customize your coffin. Decorate it with your pastime, hobbies or favourite sports team. The choices are endless. Just type “custom caskets” into a google search and you’re presented with about 485,000 search results.
Turning Cremated Remains Into Vinyl Records
Yup, you read right. There is British company that will take your ashes and press them into a vinyl recording. You can then add your personal recorded message for your loved ones to play and remember you by.
Live Funeral Webcasts
Family members and friends can’t physically make it to your funeral? No problem. They can now watch it over the internet. Webcasting of funerals first became available in the early 2000’s however only started to gain momentum over the last six to seven years as people started to shift from traditional funeral services along with the costs to transmit a live webcast started to drop.
Writing Your Own Obituary
It’s been said that Baby Boomers are going out not with a bang but a blog. There are now websites that are dedicated to helping you write your own perfect obituary so that you can really have the last word.
And funerals are big business.
Western Baby Boomers Changing the funeral industry
Having driven their parents crazy with loud, weird 12 bars and 3 chords music, actively pursued counter cultures, feminism, civil rights and more , the Baby Boomers are now ready to deal with death. Funeral directors are loving it. (To the peril, of course, because many are Baby Boomers themselves)