Heather Adams, writing for Rewire.com, mentions that In 1997, The Onion published the article, “World Death Rate Holding Steady at 100 Percent.”  While immortality is a quest for lots of fictional characters — like Voldemort and the Cullens from “Twilight” — and a few Silicon Valley elites like Jeff Bezos, that headline from The Onion still holds true more than two decades later.

Duh. Everybody dies.

But a lingering taboo around death in the U.S. makes it hard to talk about. People in and around the funeral industry are hoping to change that.

Not only are we not talking about death, we’re also trying not to think about it. Only 1 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds plan their own funeral before experiencing the death of a loved one. That number jumps to nearly 20 percent following the death of a loved one, according to CJP Field.

The Green Burial Council’s Holly Chan, 24, thinks it’s time for everyone to start talking about and planning for the inevitable.

At the end of October, she’s hosting a talk called “Death over Dim Sum” at the Reimagine End of Life festival in San Francisco that’s bringing together end-of-life experts and Asian Americans of all ages.

“Age doesn’t really change how much contact you have with death,” she said. “We could die at any time.”

Family members aren’t any better off not having discussed the wishes of a deceased loved one, she said. Instead, they’re often left with uncertainty and an expensive funeral.

“I think this conversation is relevant at any time,” she said, adding that it’s OK to change your idea of what your funeral might look like as your life changes.

Green burials aren’t just a fad

One of the biggest movements in the funeral industry is green funerals, including more environmentally friendly burial options.

In 2018, nearly 54 percent of Americans were considering a green burial, according to a survey released by the National Funeral Directors Association.

“Green burial is for everybody,” said Lee Webster of the Green Burial Council.

Traditional burial methods — like being embalmed and buried in a metal casket — take a toll on the environment. Green burial uses biodegradable plain wooden caskets, shrouds, tree pods or coral reefs. And the options are expanding.


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