Interview: A Look at the Funeral Industry in 2024

Published on January 29, 2024

Funeral services affect all members of a community, whatever their age, gender or origin. That's why the funeral industry needs to keep pace with society and adapt to the changing needs of its members.

 Lucie Marsolais, Executive Director of the Aeterna Funeral Complex in Montreal, shares her vision for the funeral industry in the year ahead.  


Funerals and celebrations of life: reinventing rituals

What will change in the way we approach funeral rites this year? In answer to this question, what first comes to mind for Lucie Marsolais are celebration ceremonies:

"People will get together… with the people around them… inviting them to a cocktail party, for example, to remember the good times spent with the deceased. That's what's coming more and more."

In 2024, the Director of the Aeterna Funeral Complex expects to see more celebrations of life than traditional funerals. Instead of long, traditional ceremonies, the focus will be on tributes in memory of the loved one, to honour his or her memory with the people who loved them.

Mrs. Marsolais has also noted a growing interest in the simplicity and adaptability offered by cremation:

"Cremation is a totally different world. A faster world, where you can transport the ashes wherever you want and bury them wherever you want."

Nevertheless, opting for cremation doesn't automatically mean abandoning celebrations. She adds that "cremation is more than that. Cremation is beautiful. It involves various things around cremation".

In fact, the Director notes that people often don't know that cremation can also include a celebration of life. The role of the Aeterna Complex and its team is to support these people and show them the different ways of honouring their deceased loved one.

According to Lucie Marsolais, some people need to be educated in order to break down preconceived ideas and help people better distinguish between the technical aspects of disposing of the body and the ritual aspects of the final good-bye.

"When we talk about funerals, people think: procession, embalming, viewing, church, burial... Funerals are an old term. An old ritual."

Yet traditional funerals aren't the only option. Rituals can be adapted to the beliefs, preferences and needs of both the family and the deceased. Whatever form it takes, the farewell ceremony is an important part of the grieving process.


Innovation: using technology to simplify funeral rites

In the funeral world, technology can be used to make procedures simpler for those experiencing the loss of a loved one.

At the Aeterna Complex, for example, a new electronic register service will be offered to the clientele in 2024:

"The registers we used for signing at the door, the family registers, will be transformed into electronic registers. People can write their condolences and send them by email to the people concerned."

In addition to cutting down on paper consumption, this initiative keeps condolences in digital format and gives people who can't attend the ceremony an opportunity to express their sympathy.

Technology is also a game-changer for those unable to attend the ceremony. The Aeterna Complex offers to live-stream funerals, celebrations of life, final tributes and even cremations:

"When people live far away and can't really get around, this is what they need. Funerals are going to take place in real time, right here in the funeral home, and people are going to be able to attend from wherever they are."


Ecology: the funeral industry's transition to a greener future

For Mrs. Marsolais, eco-responsibility is an increasingly important issue in the funeral industry. Whether for caskets, urns, biodegradable glasses or any other product or service offered by her establishment, the environment is an influential criterion in decision-making:

"Take flowers, for example. It's not the flower that's a pollutant; it's the oasis (the foam) that supports it. It's non-degradable. So rather than putting them in garbage cans, we return them to the florists to avoid further pollution."

The Aeterna Complex also avoids the use of printed documents as much as possible: "All documentation is prepared and sent to the government electronically. I'd say 99.9%," she pointed out.


Society today: informed clientele in control

It's not just the funeral industry that's evolving: our clientele is also changing its consumption habits. As Mrs. Marsolais explained, "People are quite well informed when they come here, because they browse around, they go online to other funeral homes' websites, and then they come here with a bit of information".

But even though the Internet is making information more and more accessible, in this veteran Director's experience, it's no substitute for the services of a professional:  

"There's nothing better than coming to a funeral home and sitting down with our file managers to talk about all the options that are available to you."

At the Aeterna Complex, we've noticed that people are more aware of what's available on the market. But above all, they are tending more and more to want some control over the last moments they will spend on this earth, with the people they love:

"People are starting to look at the end of their lives in a different way. In other words, they want to decide the time and date of their end of life. That's where we are right now. It's something that's coming."

According to Mrs. Marsolais, it's the clientele that drives change in the funeral industry, not the other way around. For the Aeterna Complex, it's important to anticipate the needs of its clientele. That's why it makes a point of listening to its clientele's wants and needs:

"We pay close attention to our clientele’s requests. As soon as there are changes in needs or mentalities, we want to be the first to know, because we want to be part of the change."


The Aeterna Complex: open to all communities

When Lucie Marsolais is asked what she would like to see happen in 2024, the answer doesn't come as easily as with other questions. In her 18-year career in the funeral industry, she has already climbed so many rungs of the ladder and changed so many practices!

Lastly, the Director of the Aeterna Complex shares her desire to open her doors to all cultures:

"Honestly, if I had one wish, it would be that we succeed in reaching more members from culturally diverse backgrounds. I'd like to see even more different cultural communities in my complex. That these communities, who need to meet with us, know that the Complex is made for them, that we're ready to welcome them."

Thanks to its professional and diversified team, Aeterna Complex can support you in all your needs, whatever your beliefs or origins.

In 2024, our team is here to support and advise you. Contact us to make an appointment.

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