, America’s most detailed funeral home directory, today released the results of their latest survey revealing how Americans are adapting to death and aftercare services one year in to the Coronavirus pandemic. Survey participants experienced many grieving moments and leveraged technology in new ways. Google Consumers Surveys conducted the online questionnaire on behalf of among 208 U.S. adults, age 18 and older between March 25-28, 2021.

Death Has Been Particularly Prevalent; Cremation Remains Popular

42% of Americans reported having an immediate or extended family member pass away in the past 12 months. An additional 28% had a close friend or colleague pass away. Just under half (46%) were fortunate enough to have no deaths among their family, friends, colleagues, or pets this past year.

Those aged 65+, were particularly at-risk during the pandemic. Compared to those ages 18-24, they were 3x more likely to have experienced a death among their friends and family.

In the past 12 months, have you experienced deaths among any of these groups?
 Immediate Family MemberExtended Family MemberClose FriendColleaguePet
18 – 2412%8%1%2%19%
25 -3414%19%9%13%25%
35 – 4412%18%26%33%25%
45 – 5416%9%11%5%14%
55 -6426%16%19%24%6%
*Multiple choice survey question

Among the deceased, there was an even split among cremation (48%) and burial (52%) for humans while pets were twice as likely to be buried as cremated.

Social Distancing and Business Closures Impacted Ceremonies and Aftercare Serviced Used

Across the United Stated Covid-19 caused funeral homes and religious institutions to decrease their capacities for ceremonies. There were very few large gatherings with just 3% of funeral services being attended by more than 100 people. Small services were more prevalent. 20% had less than 10 attendees, 23% had 11-25, 25% had 26-50, 11% had 51-100 and 18% opted for no service at all.

Many turned to digital products to help cope during these stressful times. With stay-at-home orders prevalent, 20% reported attending a live webcast of a funeral service. Regrettably, this newly introduced funeral functionality had the lowest satisfaction rating among funeral attendees.

Were there any digital components of the death commemoration?
Digital ComponentResponsesSatisfaction Rating (0-10)
Digital Obituary31%              7.16
Music Played29%              7.14
Memorial Video28%              7.39
Condolence Wall24%              7.16
Live Webcast of Service20%              6.65
Service Recording18%              7.00
None of the Above32% 
*Multiple choice survey question

Traditionally, after a funeral ceremony there is a reception, wake, or ‘after pass’ hosted by the family where friends and family gather to be together. This year, however, nearly half of all funerals had no gathering afterward. Restaurants, normally a popular location to host a reception, were impacted by dine-in restrictions and lost out on meaningful group sales.

Where did friends and family gather after the service?
LocationShare of Responses
There was no gathering48%
Outdoor Location16%
Personal Home14%
Funeral Home10%
Church Hall8%
Bar or Restaurant4%
*Single answer survey question

Pre-Approved Quotes:

  • “More than anything, the Covid pandemic prevented Americans from grieving in familiar ways. Funeral homes adapted and offered a broader selection of services and capabilities,” says founder of FuneralFide, Evan Waters. “Despite smaller services and digital audiences, funeral homes continued to add meaningful value to the aftercare process.”
  • “Grief is therapeutic and a normal response when you lose someone important. But it is no longer possible to grieve the traditional way despite the surge in death prevalence in the Covid19 pandemic era. Fully-packed funerals, visitations, and memorials are less common,” says funeral industry veteran Kennedy Brian.
  • “Ideally, Covid19 doesn’t restrict you to cremation or burial. Current social distancing requirements necessitate that the family discuss available resources and plans with clergy and funeral homes,” notes Kennedy Briand, a funeral director of more than 6 years. “Many funeral homes have modified funeral arrangements to blend technology and traditional components. Families may need to compromise some cultural and familial expectations and adopt modified plans, including virtual funerals and visitations.”

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