Lively atmosphere at funeral association trade show

Industry showcases its evolution and new services

Published on May 23, 2014
Rene de Diego, president of Remembrance Diamonds, holds a diamond manufactured from crematorium ashes at the Funeral Association’s trade show at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s Thursday.
— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

It’s not an industry most people tend to think of as trendy, expanding into new product areas and advancing in the age of new technology.

But death is big business.

Take a walk around the exhibition floor at the Funeral Service Association of Canada’s annual convention — taking place in St. John’s this week — and you’ll see a booming industry.

Delegates and visitors get to see sparkling diamonds made from cremated remains, eco-friendly caskets and shiny new hearses. Creativity abounds, with beautiful cremation urns, sculptures and jewelry.

Technology allows families to replicate the fingerprints of a loved one onto picture frames or pendants.

Faye Doucette, president of the association, said that while many families still ask for a traditional funeral for a deceased loved one — body in an open or closed casket, service at the funeral home or church, and burial — cremation is becoming increasingly common, along with types of services that reflect a shift in cultural values.

That includes everything from the music at funeral services going beyond popular hymms to include contemporary songs, to online memorials and the broadcasting of services to family members away.

“Our funeral home is still very traditional,” said Doucette, whose funeral home is in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

“(But) there’s all the trendy things that go with it, the diamonds and the jewellery, the fancy urns, that we wouldn’t have seen when we started 20 years ago.”

According a fact sheet provided, most of the changing trends in relation to funerals are the result of families planning funeral services that better reflect the life, passions, accomplishments and personality of the deceased.