The Death of the Funeral Business

How our mourning rituals have evolved:

It’s all part of the biggest trend in funerals: personalization. Taking a cue from Oprah, who reportedly has planned her own funeral, contemporary mourners are trying to make the worn outlines of ritual more authentic and meaningful. We’re singing “My Heart Will Go On” at services, and showing montages of our deceased’s school days, weddings, grandkids. We’re having their cremains shot into space, made into diamonds and interred in coral reefs. The newest disposal method: dissolving the body via alkaline hydrolysis. The resultant liquid washes right down the drain.

Rituals evolve. What stays constant is our need for them, for some way to make sense of the hole in the social fabric that death creates. “While the types of services we offer are changing, our job has remained the same,” say Peter. “People always told stories. We are always remembering who the people were.”

Published: Nov 22, 2013
Length: 16 minutes (4,125 words)
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