BOSTON (CBS) — When you pass on from this world, would you like your remains turned into a diamond? How about a bonsai tree?
Those are just two of the options on display at the National Funeral Directors Association’s annual convention, being held this week in Boston–where going green appeared to be the big trend this year.
Kurt Soffe, a fourth-generation funeral director from Utah, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones that the industry was seeing a trend toward cremation over burial–and that those cremated remains often stay with families.
“They may not have other loved ones in a cemetery, they may not have a favorite spot,” Soffe said. “Or if they do, it’s private, and if it’s private, they would need permission to scatter those cremated remains. So many of the remains currently are being placed on the shelf in closets.”
Many urns are now cardboard canisters that come with an evergreen for planting, or papier-mâché figures that are disposed of in a favorite waterway.
“We’re also seeing many natural or ‘green’ burials, where people are desirous to be as little a carbon footprint as possible,” Soffe said. “They will use all-natural products like urns that are made of salt or papier-mâché that will disintegrate into the ground.”
One company exhibiting at the convention will put a bonsai plant in your loved one’s urn–something you can care for years after a loved one’s passing.
Darren Crouch of Passages International in New Mexico offers biodegradable containers.
“Biodegradable urns are more or less a mainstay in most funeral homes now,” Crouch said. “Wicker caskets, bamboo caskets.”
Others choose to have their remains turned into diamonds, or sprinkled into decorative glass figurines.
In addition, funeral services are no longer adhering to a script, and are beginning to be unique to the life they are celebrating.
“People would like to have personalization, where they are directly and quite in-depth involved in what their services are, and what they’d like to do for their loved one,” Soffe said.
He said personalization could include different types of photo collages or DVD tributes made by loved ones, or video tributes webcast online.
“For those who cannot attend the service, we webcast funerals now,” Soffe said. “In our funeral home, we have a large production room that consists of monitors, mixing boards, DVD recorders, broadcast equipment, along with display items.”
Are religious services taking a backseat these days?
“We have many people come in and say, ‘I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual,'” Soffe said. “The important thing for a funeral director is to sit down with that family and determine what that might mean–in their mind, what is a religious person versus a spiritual person–and then help them to cater to that service and their desires.”