The way that people want others to remember them after they die, is changing. Far fewer people now want a gravestone!
For over 55s in the UK, the traditional memorials – gravestones, urns, portraits – are on their way out!
Cremation or Burial?
Only 16% would like to have a gravestone, which is half the number of those aged 18-24. The vast majority of people would choose a cremation over a burial. However, the traditional way of storing ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece is remarkably unpopular. Only 3% of people over 55 said that they would like an urn. Meanwhile the time-honoured portrait, of the kind we’re used to seeing follow us round the room in classic horror movies, is only popular among a tiny 1% of older people.
This shift away from traditional memorials coincides with a growing trend towards less traditional funerals. Direct cremation, a low cost alternative funeral without a ceremony, is rising in popularity. Some have pinned this change on celebrities like David Bowie setting a trend.
However, this new research suggests that there may be something more fundamental happening, as older people move away from funeral traditions.
As Mark Hull from Simplicity Cremations, who commissioned the research, explains: “The change in preferences coincides with the significant shift in funeral demands indicated by a huge rise in the number of people interested in direct cremations over the past few years. The important thing to recognise here is that people now have many modern choices and there are far fewer social ties to tradition.”
So How Do Over 55s Want To Be Remembered?
Strikingly, as many as a third of people said that they wanted no memorial at all. Older people were much more likely to say this than the younger generation.
But among those who did want some kind of memorial, the most popular was a tree; the preference of 36% of people. 11% of people chose a bench and a similar proportion was undecided about the type of memorial they would like.
There are many new ways ashes can be turned into memorials, from diamonds to vinyl records, but while these were popular among younger people, very few older people would consider the more creative memorials available.
A Drink Instead Of A Gravestone!
Instead, rather than memorials, what older people really want is for their friends and loved ones to remember them as they reminisce about special moments or over a drink. 37% said they would like their friends and families to have a drink in their honour on the first anniversary of their death.
As Mark Hull says: “The way we want people to remember us, is changing radically. Older people are certainly moving away from traditional memorials, partly because of practical reasons such as cost and the need for upkeep, but also because they believe their friends or loved ones don’t need a physical memorial to remember them in the same way as before.”