NJ funerals are getting wild, imaginative — and less religious
The traditional funeral may not be quite dead and buried just yet, but more and more New Jersey residents and funeral homes are injecting new life into these somber services with more personalization and memorialization.
At Kedz Funeral Home in Ocean County, owner Marilou Rogers detailed some unique requests for clients.
"We had a lady who was very active in cycling, and so instead of having the family follow in cars, they rode their bikes for the funeral procession," said Rogers.
Another creative request involved honoring a man's profession.
"A young gentleman passed away and he had been a boat hauler, and so they actually put the casket on a boat hauler instead of in the hearse," Rogers said.
Rotating digital photos of the deceased are displayed on screens, and Rogers noted podcasting of funeral services also is growing in popularity for loved ones who live out-of-state or overseas.
At Oliverie Funeral Home in Ocean County, owner Geri Oliverie pointed out that traditional hours for services also are changing. The standard 2 to 4 p.m. or 7 to 9 p.m. has turned into 9 to 11 a.m. or 1 to 5 p.m. if the service fall on a weekend, or 4 to 8 p.m.
Another interesting change Oliverie pointed out is that when a spouse buries a partner, the service usually includes a religious aspect. But if it's an adult child burying a parent, many are excluding religion.
"It doesn't matter if their mother or father was religious, it's about what they are. So, if they're not religious, they're not doing anything," said Oliverie. She also noted that the trend used to be to allow a deacon to perform the service, but said that too is being eliminated.
Cremations are on the rise, according to Oliverie, and instead of the ashes being buried, scattering them is more popular. Cremains are being turned into artwork, paper weights and even jewelry, and ashes aren't being placed in classic urns anymore.
"Urns are really decorative, handpainted, they're different shapes, so they look like a piece of artwork," Oliverie said. Some of them are made of hand-blown glass, with the cremains infused into it. The one-of-a-kind pieces and can cost as much as $400. Oliverie pointed out the color can even be enhanced.
"Cremains have color. Even though they come back black, when they're enhanced, certain colors come out," she said.
Oliverie Funeral home also keeps a file of fingerprints, which Oliverie pointed out, have sentimental value. They received a request from a woman seeking her father's thumb print so she could have it placed in a key chain to give to her mother as an anniversary gift.
Green burials also are on the rise, and Oliverie said cremains can be placed in pods, and grow as part of a tree. She anticipates that option to become popular among baby boomers.
As far as flowers, Oliverie also pointed out that there seems to be a shift toward fewer flowers at funeral services and as a result, more donations to specific causes in honor of the deceased.