Coronavirus

How Death and Funerals Are Changing in the U.S.

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Covid-19 has killed more than 500,000 Americans in the span of a year — pushing morgues, mortuaries and funeral homes to their limits as they try to react to surging demand.

In the past decade, dying has become an increasingly expensive thing to do. In 2019, the median cost of a traditional adult funeral with viewing, burial and vault was $9,130 compared with $8,508 five years before. In tough times, more and more families are choosing cremation or simply scaling down on memorial services for their loved ones. Both of which bring in less revenue for funeral businesses that tend to rely on extravagant services and expensive caskets and burials.

Silicon Valley is seeing a surge in start-ups specializing in end-of-life care, and major investors are backing them up. According to data from Crunchbase, over the past three years, venture and seed backers have put capital into at least 26 companies offering products and services around death and bereavement.

Amid Covid and changing consumer preferences, the death-care industry has faced a lot of challenges. But much like the increase in fatalities, investigations and lawsuits continue to mount for funeral homes across the country. So with traditional funeral rituals becoming more obsolete, increasingly expensive and entrenched in criticism, what does this mean for the death-care industry? 

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