Funerals are traditionally sad affairs where organ music plays and everyone shows up wearing black. The loved one who has passed away is carried lovingly in their casket to a cemetery where they can be visited by family and friends.

But more and more, the traditional funeral practices are going by the wayside in favor of services that are more personalised, more eco-friendly, and more and more often planned by the deceased themselves. Here are five surprising funeral trends.

1. Cremation

Many people are choosing cremation over a standard burial for themselves or for a loved one. One benefit is that cremation is cost-effective option in an industry that is becoming increasingly expensive. It’s also an eco-friendly option because no embalming chemicals are required and no large plot is needed for a coffin.

2. Legacy Trees

Did you know that you could be a tree after death? Another surprising funeral trend involves burying a loved one’s ashes under a tree in a special legacy forest where family and friends can visit and watch the tree grow.

Instead of taking up room in an already crowded cemetery, you can choose a tree that matches your loved one’s personality or that represents your family’s values and bury their ashes below that tree. Human ashes can be toxic to trees and plants, so the benefit of choosing a service that specialises in legacy trees is that the company knows how to treat the ashes so that they ┬ábenefit plant growth, and you can watch your family tree grow for generations.

3. Eco-Friendly Burial

You can still choose an eco-friendly burial option if you don’t feel comfortable with cremation. Green burial grounds are becoming increasingly popular because of their lower carbon footprint. Instead of a headstone, a burial site might be marked by a plant, tree, or flower, or simply left unmarked. A biodegradable coffin might be made from cardboard, bamboo, linen, or other natural material. The loved one is buried in biodegradable clothing.

4. Personalised Services

In many cases, funerals are no longer performed by a funeral director who didn’t know your loved one. Family and friends prefer to attend a service that captures the essence of who their loved one was in life. Photo tributes are very popular that showcase a person’s life over a span of many years and include pictures of family and friends.

Music that was loved by that person is played instead of a traditional funeral hymn. Some people release butterflies or lanterns. A celebration of life service might be scheduled instead of or in addition to a funeral in which attendants have the opportunity to share memories and anecdotes about their loved one during an organised programme. Services are often followed by a meal where people can eat foods that were favourites of the departed and spend time together grieving, remembering, and comforting one another.

5. Pre-Planned Services

If you don’t like to think about death, you may be surprised to learn that it is becoming increasingly popular for people to plan their own funeral services. You might think of this happening when a person is terminally ill, but there are many perfectly healthy people who are not only leaving a list of preferences in regards to their funeral service but are pre-paying for it all, too.

Aside from having personal preferences about how you will be remembered in death, most people take on the overwhelming task of funeral planning, organising what will happen to their body, and securing a burial plot in order to prevent their family members from needing to deal with those logistics once they die. Funerals and burials are increasingly expensive, so a way to continue to show your loved ones you care after you pass away is to plan ahead to cover the cost of those expenses.

Remembering someone in death is becoming as personalised as other moments in life such as birthdays and weddings. In death, you can have your values honoured whether you are environmentally-minded and care about how your remains will impact the earth or the most important thing to you is taking the burden of arranging your funeral off of your family members. These surprising funeral trends can open the door to important conversations with your family members and friends.

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