More than half of funeral directors have experienced increased cremation rates due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the 2020 Cremation and Burial Report, released by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). The pandemic has forever changed the way families memorialize a loved one – further solidifying cremation as the leading end-of-life preference, and funeral directors as unequivocal first responders in times of crisis.
While the impact of COVID-19 has been both unprecedented and unpredictable, the shift toward cremation has been a forecasted pattern by NFDA. In 2015, the national cremation rate surpassed the burial rate for the first time in U.S. history. In 2020, the projected burial rate is 37.5% (down 7.7% from 2015) and projected cremation rate is 56.0% (up 8.1% from 2015). This preference is predicted to only strengthen, with projections for 2025 indicating that the burial rate will be 30.6% (down 14.6% from 2015) and the cremation rate 63.3% (up 15.4% from 2015).
End-of-life services have looked different in 2020 due to COVID-19, starting with the sheer volume of deaths. An additional 200,000 U.S. deaths are estimated this year because of the pandemic, eight out of ten of which are adults 65 years and older, according to NFDA's 2020 Cremation and Burial Report. That means more families than usual are planning funerals. However, because of "safer-at-home" orders, social distancing rules and restrictions on gatherings, most have had to postpone or revise memorialization plans. In fact, 50% of NFDA-member funeral homes report families postponing a loved one's service due to COVID-19, with plans to hold some type of service with a funeral director's assistance in later months.
The pandemic has also highlighted the importance of funeral directors, not only as leaders in their communities, but also as a vital network of often overlooked first responders during national and global crises. From natural disasters to mass tragedies, funeral directors are on the front lines helping families navigate uncharted territory – it is no different with COVID-19. In fact, nearly 900 funeral professionals from across the country volunteered to assist funeral directors and others with respectfully caring for the dead in hotspots, like New York and Michigan, when they were experiencing spikes in COVID-related deaths.
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral directors have been an invaluable part of the community, providing constant support and flexibility as families make already difficult decisions under seemingly impossible circumstances," said 2019-2020 NFDA president, Bryant Hightower, CFSP. "There was and is no road map for funeral directors during this unprecedented time, but they have undoubtedly risen to the occasion and adjusted their services to meet the moment."
Ultimately, the changes funeral directors made to meet this moment will propel funeral service into the future. While COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult or impossible for families to gather and grieve, it has highlighted the ability of funeral homes to meet every family's unique needs. For example, nearly half of NFDA-member funeral homes have started offering livestreaming options since the onset of COVID-19, offering widespread accessibility to loved ones who are unable to be physically present for a service. NFDA expects this trend to continue as social distancing becomes the norm for the foreseeable future.
With families and funeral directors having to quickly pivot plans in recent months, it highlights both the uncertainty of death and the importance of preplanning. Whether families prefer burial or are considering cremation, like most Americans, they might not know where to start. Answering questions at all stages of planning, Remembering A Life (www.RememberingALife.com), NFDA's family outreach and education website, offers guidance on where to begin the planning process, the kinds of decisions that families can make, and the many options available to make a tribute personal and meaningful, especially during the time of COVID-19. Whether visitors are curious about their own affairs or need fast answers following the death of a loved one, the "Ask a Funeral Expert" tool gives families access to experienced professionals who can answer questions or refer them to a local funeral director.
Leading same-day delivery marketplace Shipt announced today that it's expanding its offerings by partnering with specialty retailer Fresh Thyme Farmers Market– making it more convenient to conquer your healthy living goals. Customers in 30 metro areasacross the Midwest region will have access to this new offering from Shipt and Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, giving more than 10 million households this option for same-day delivery.
Michigan residents in the Lansing metro areas will also receive access to same-day delivery of beer and wine from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. Members must be at least 21 years old to order or accept alcohol deliveries, and will be required to present identification upon delivery.
To celebrate the announcement, new Shipt customers who sign up between July 7 and July 11will receive an annual membership for $49 (regularly $99). To take advantage of this offer and determine if delivery is available in their area, customers can visit shipt.com/freshthyme.
Additionally, customers now have the option to pay per delivery with a one-time fee, no obligations or commitment. With a variety of delivery options, customers have the flexibility to order same-day delivery from Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, as much or as little as needed. To try a Shipt Pass single delivery for $10or any other Shipt Pass plans, visit shipt.com.
"Fresh Thyme Farmers Market is a staple for healthy, convenient and budget friendly living," said Joe Manning, Chief Business Officer of Shipt. "Partnering with Fresh Thyme Farmers Market gives us the opportunity to provide an additional layer of ease by bringing fresh and healthy goods to members across the Midwest."
This new partnership with Fresh Thyme Farmers Market provides Shipt members product offerings that follow vegan, paleo, keto, vegetarian or wheat- and gluten-free diets. Shipt members can select Fresh Thyme in the user-friendly app and on Shipt.com to add their favorite Fresh Thyme Farmers Market products to their order, free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. "We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Shipt," said Ramesh Reddy, Chief Information Officer of Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. "Their delivery solution provides a convenience; one our customers are looking for in their shopping experience."