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Boomers will change the way funerals are held, too

Special to the Legal News

Published: February 25, 2014

In the late 90s, it was reported that baby boomers, as a generation, shied away from end-of-life discussions.

That was then. Today, as the oldest boomers have begun settling into their retirement years, an increasing number of individuals born between 1946 and 1964 have begun to face their own mortality and are calling on funeral directors to help them plan their final celebration.

And, as could be expected of the generation that shrugged off traditional values, some are tossing aside traditional funerals.

“More and more people are saying ‘Just throw me a party.’ People want to celebrate a life rather than mourn the death,” said Michael Schoedinger, president of Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service.

According to the official blog of Funeral Parlour, an online company that specializes in obituary templates, baby boomers are helping shake up the funeral industry.

“Traditional funerals tend to take place in churches or other religious areas, feature a casket and some religious or memorial speeches,” FP officials wrote. “Modern funerals, however, run the gamut from simple to extravagant. And baby boomer funerals are no exception. To put it in another way, these are not your grandpa’s funerals.”

From putting together a live excerpt of their favorite musical to paying tribute to a beloved hobby, many boomers are thinking outside the satin-lined box.

Some opt to forgo funerals entirely and have surviving family members and friends celebrate their life at a favorite location, such as the Columbus Zoo.

“For an avid Ohio State Buckeye fan, not only can we offer a scarlet and gray casket, but we have had tailgate party funerals where we play the marching band music, we roast hot dogs, serve chocolate buckeyes, play corn hole in the middle of the visitation room, have a recording of our 2002 national championship victory playing on a big screen TV in the room and even remove all of our funeral home furniture and replace it with folding tailgate party chairs,” Schoedinger said.

For boomers who don’t want to stray too far from a traditional service but would still like to add unique touches to their funeral, Schoedinger suggested they outline their wishes to both family members and a funeral professional.

“Regardless of cremation or burial, all funeral services should reflect the life that has been lived,” he said. “Most funeral homes offer free pre-planning services where you can record your wishes. You can always change them in the future.”

Schoedinger went on to say that the benefits of mapping out one’s funeral is well worth any lingering apprehension.

“No one gets up in the morning and says, ‘Honey, lets go pre-arrange our funerals.’ Yet, many come in to our funeral home daily and wish they would have,” he said.

“Now one spouse is gone and the survivor is scared, mad and sad. The majority of people who pre-plan a funeral, also pre-pay. At Schoedinger, we offer double protection. You not only have a written contract that we promise to do the funeral despite cost increases, but your money is also safely deposited in a separate trust or insurance policy. Every death that occurs where it was all pre-arranged, the family is relieved. Yet many come in and have the ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ syndrome.”

In the midst of the growing wave of boomers wanting to put the “fun” in funeral, Schoedinger cautioned against dismissing the potential impact of death.

“While honoring a life is important, it’s critical to allow opportunities for survivors to go through the grief journey,” he said. “Many think they don’t need this, but we all do. Some of us just have a shorter journey than others.”

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