Non-Traditional Funerals Grow In Popularity On The First Coast

Feb 20, 2014

No longer wanting their lives remembered with doom and gloom, Baby Boomers are driving an interesting trend–the changing face of funerals.

A new survey finds a surprising number of people these days want a non-traditional memorial service for their loved ones, featuring upbeat music, a celebratory tone, food, and even alcohol.

In fact, 42 percent of those under age 35 say they like this approach to a memorial services, but a growing number of older Americans share the sentiment too.

The idea is to celebrate a person’s life in a meaningful and personalized way.

An outdoor ceremony with candles in seashells, oysters on the half shell and an urn carried in a handmade kayak is just one example of a non-traditional funeral.
Credit Dignity Memorial

"What people want is something more uplifting," said Jody Brandenburg, president of several Dignity Memorial funeral homes in Jacksonville.  

In response, his team has launched Life Well Celebrated, a program aimed at helping families see the full scope of possibilities in creating a unique memorial service.

What does it mean? Think full catering, festive decorations and an Oldies cover band replacing the muted atmosphere and graveside ceremonies associated with traditional funeral services.

"People–primarily women–who may have just organized a dignified, traditional graveside burial for their mothers are turning around and saying, 'Well, Mom would have loved that. But when it comes time to honor my life, I want just the opposite. I want to have a party that represents me and celebrates the way I’ve lived my life,’” said Brandenburg.

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