Two recent newspaper articles help to underscore the distinct directions the funeral ritual seems headed.
The Kansas City Star reported on how more families are opting for personalization over formal funeral rituals. As the article indicates, personalization often requires the funeral director to spend more time with the family planning a memorial that is unique to the deceased. This approach also challenges the preneed approach of selling a package arrangement that covers 'everything'.
Personalization represents a departure from the Christian liturgy that allowed a standardized approach to funeral planning. While some theologians criticize the funeral industry's departure from the traditional (religious) funeral ritual, others have come to realize how clergy often overlook the emotional needs of the surviving family members. The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship devotes several pages from its website to the "funerals that minister to those left behind".
As more clergy become more sensitive to the psychological needs of the surviving family members, funeral directors may have an opportunity to work more closely with churches seeking to provide a more spiritual ritual for their congregations. The latter approach was underscored by an article about funeral directors seeking to serve the needs of immigrants.