Celebrations of life becoming standard in funeral industry

More families are opting for non-religious services.
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 8:53 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Although there is still a place for traditional funerals, the industry is changing and changing fast.

With more people choosing non-religious services, the celebration of life is quickly becoming a standard. A celebration of life is more informal and doesn’t have to be held at any particular place.

“It can happen anywhere,” said Rockford funeral director Tony Gasparini, owner of Tony Gasparini Funerals. “You see a lot of that going on with our clubs, even church halls. They can pretty much be anywhere—bars, restaurants. I’ve seen them everywhere.”

Kristan McNames, owner of Grace Funeral & Cremation Services, has also seen trends shifting, which is why her funeral home is also an event center. The nearly 20,000 square-foot building allows her to accommodate celebrations of life with ease. She says not only are they common, they’re not limited to any specific demographic.

“We’ve done celebration of life services for children, and we’ve done them for people in their 90s,” she said.

Cremations are also becoming more popular. Cremating a loved one can be 50- to 75-percent less costly than traditional burial. McNames says while cost is a factor, people have other, often deep, sentimental reasons for choosing cremation.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to leave someone behind if they move away one day,” McNames added. “They want to be able to keep their person with them.”

Other new trends include virtual and livestreamed services, which were common during the pandemic and are still offered today.

Experts say in-person funeral attendance is down as much as 50% because of lingering COVID-19 concerns.