The funeral industry has traditionally offered families little guidance or direction when planning for end-of-life needs. Because of this, many families find themselves unprepared when facing a loved one’s death.
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As opposed to weddings, funerals need to be planned rapidly and are sometimes unexpected. This immediate need creates a situation where families are expected to make hundreds of decisions to honor the life of a loved one in the space of hours. They are also faced with spending thousands that they may not have.
These issues have long existed, but with the increase of deaths due to COVID-19 and growing conversations centered on death, new companies are starting to stand in the gap. Death tech companies are just starting to grow, but they’re determined to help make the end-of-life planning process easier on individuals and families alike.
Definition of Death Tech or Death Technology
Death technology can be split into two main categories. The first category is technology as it applies to methods of final disposition. Traditionally, this would have been technology related to cremation or burial. Today, it’s a much more encompassing category that we’ll expand on below.
The second category refers to technology that provides people with tech and services related to end-of-life planning. This space in the technology world is growing rapidly with companies and startups filling gaps in the end-of-life space experienced by families, the terminally ill, and those planning for their mortality.
Technology related to final disposition
When it comes to methods of final disposition, there have historically been two options including traditional burial and cremation. Traditional burial meant a person was placed into a casket in the ground and buried in a cemetery plot or mausoleum. Cremation meant that a loved one was cremated and their cremains were given back to a family member who then held onto them in a traditional urn.
Instead of being the only options, traditional cremation and burial are now part of a long list of varied burial options and burial alternatives. What options and alternatives are available?
In addition to traditional burial and cremation, you can now take advantage of options like aqua cremation, eco cremation, green burials, and tree pod burials.
Cremains can be placed into tree-growing pods, sewn into packets of wildflower seeds, or compressed into touchstones that you can keep on your nightstand. You can also purchase cremation jewelry to keep some of your loved ones cremains with you. There are even companies that create 3D novelty urns so you can keep your loved one’s ashes in a small replica of their favorite truck or a pet’s remains in a look-alike model of the dog or cat.
Burials have evolved from traditional casket burials to natural or green burials in the wild, recomposition burials, burials in a shroud, and burials in a suit made of mushrooms to aid the body’s natural decomposition.
Whether you want your death to have a lighter environmental impact, you want to give back and create something from your body, or you simply want the freedom and flexibility that modern options provide, you can rest assured that your body will be treated well.
Technology related to end-of-life planning
With the rise of deaths and limitations of gathering together or funeral planning due to COVID-19, families around the world have been faced with questions about end-of-life planning. How do they gather together when they need to stay far apart? How do they honor their loved one’s final wishes? And, more frequently, what were their loved one’s final wishes?
Death is something each of us knows is incoming at some point. Unfortunately, most people would rather put off the mortality discussion instead of facing it head-on. Because of this, death catches many families off-guard.
Questions about final wishes, cemetery plots, life insurance, methods of final disposition, and memorial preferences are all left unanswered by the person who passed away. There’s also the difficulty of not being able to gather together due to illness, age, and distance. This leaves individuals feeling isolated and lonely, wishing for help to navigate their grief while the rest of the world inevitably marches on.
The death tech industry has started to grow with many companies trying to address these very issues. Death tech companies include those that:
- Help with the end-of-life planning process
- Provide end-of-life legal guidance
- Provide online grief therapy
- Provide online memorials
- Provide virtual funerals and memorial services
- Offer tools and resources to guide families post-loss
Death tech companies that offer these services do so via an online platform with user-friendly websites, tools, and apps that families can access anywhere in the world.
Popular Death Tech Companies and Startups
Now that you know what death tech is all about, we’ll dive into several companies and startups that offer the products and services we mentioned above.
Cake is a unique startup in that we focus on providing you with a full suite of end-of-life planning products and tools. We believe that end-of-life planning is a gift when done ahead and shouldn’t be a nightmare if you need to gather information due to an immediate need. We also believe that end-of-life planning should be focused on celebrating the life that was lived and honoring a person’s memory and legacy.
Cake offers a wide variety of end-of-life and post-loss products including:
- An end-of-life planning tool to help you make plans
- A post-loss checklist to help you navigate the steps to take after a loss
- An extensive library with a wealth of information provided by experts
- A forum where you can ask for and offer advice
- Advance directive forms for each state
- Estate planning and will creation tools
- Online memorial page creation tools
At Cake, we want to help you and yours navigate the ins and outs of planning for a good death, setting up end-of-life plans, and honoring loved ones in the most meaningful way possible.
GoodTrust helps individuals and families secure their digital footprint, keeping digital media available for family and friends while ensuring it stays safe.
Digital media is a hot topic these days, with many wondering who owns a loved one’s digital items and how to secure your digital footprint so documents and media remain accessible while staying out of the wrong hands. That’s what GoodTrust has set out to answer.
They offer the ability to set up an account that lets you share your documents and digital media with loved ones and friends. Through GoodTrust, you can:
- Make your will easily shareable
- Set up videos and messages that your family receives when you’re gone
- Set up a social media end-of-life plan
- Set up trusted contact sharing
If you have digital media that you’d like to keep safe and shareable, GoodTrust is a good solution.
The Living Urn focuses on creating a meaningful burial for cremated remains. If you want to bury your loved one’s cremains and give them an eco burial, you can place the cremains in an urn that will turn them into a living memorial tree.
Recompose is a company that provides you with the option to turn your body back into soil. The entire process takes six to eight weeks, at which time the soil will be ready and provided to a designated member of the family.
If you want as eco-friendly a burial as possible, then Coeio might interest you. Coeio takes eco-burial a step further from the traditional natural burial in a shroud. Rather than wrapping a body in a standard biodegradable fabric shroud, Coeio came up with their own unique burial shroud or suit.
The Infinity Burial shroud and suit are both designed to kickstart the cycle of life by helping the body to break down into natural components. It’s crafted to eliminate toxins from the body and surrounding soil during the decomposition process and efficiently deliver nutrients from the body to soil and plant life.
Eterneva is a company that specializes in transforming your loved one’s ashes into diamonds. Using a small amount of ashes, the company lab-creates a diamond in the cut and color of your choosing. Since they only require a small amount of ashes per diamond, you can have multiple diamonds created from your loved one’s cremains.
Eterneva offers its diamond creation process for both human and pet ashes.
Parting Stone provides families with a unique alternative to receiving cremation ashes and storing them in an urn. The company uses a proprietary process to solidify cremains into beautiful, one-of-a-kind stones. Each set of stones will be different in size, color, and shape, ensuring you receive a unique product that honors the individuality of your loved one.
Parting Stone offers this unique process for both human and pet cremains.
Foreverence is a custom urn company that creates unique 3D printed urns based on your design ideas. Now, you can keep a loved one’s cremains in a small replica of their favorite car, in a model of the Eiffel Tower, or a replica of their farmhouse. The options are endless with Foreverance since they can design an urn based on a submitted picture, a drawing, or a concept.
Using Technology to Plan End-of-Life Arrangements
Death tech companies are stepping into the gap and providing end-of-life planning services directly to individuals and family members.
Not only is death tech helpful for keeping your digital memorabilia safe, but these companies and services can also help you plan your entire funeral, set up your estate, and ensure all the little details are taken care of so your family doesn’t have to stress when the time comes. If you’re ready to start your end-of-life planning or you think a loved one would benefit from these services, set up an account with Cake today!