Pre-planned funerals accepted by more young people with digital techs
Cemetery and funeral service providers in China are taking a digital approach ahead of the Qingming Festival, which falls on April 5 this year.
More young people are now considering making arrangements for the final chapter of their lives thanks to the online migration of pre-planned funeral arrangement and other funeral-related and tomb-sweeping services.
Before the festival, China's biggest cemetery and funeral service provider, Fu Shou Yuan International Group, teamed up with JD.com to open a section on the e-commerce site for its pre-planned funeral arrangement and other funeral-related services.
"We have seen a steady increase in pre-planned funeral arrangement orders, some of which came from online channels," said Xing Weidong, the cemetery's pre-planned service manager.
Xing said that the group's pre-planned funeral contracts rose from 13,000 in 2021 to 16,000 in 2022.
It also contrasted sharply with less than 6,000 in 2020 and fewer than 5,000 in 2019.
Contracts for pre-planned funeral arrangements are becoming more popular in China.
The service, which is well-established in many foreign countries such as the United States and Japan, allows people to make their own funeral arrangements, which are protected by contracts.
"In comparison to the past, a higher percentage of seniors without children have presented a social challenge, and traditional cemetery and funeral service means involving a large family's participation could not meet their demand, necessitating the intervention of a third party," Xing added.
"A change in population structure creates new demand, which is how the service was launched," he explained.
When those who signed the contracts die, service providers arrange funerals in accordance with their wishes, with the decision-makers shifting from relatives of the deceased to the deceased themselves.
Hospice care, memorial services and death education are also part of the personalized service.
Some young people are seriously considering the issue, and they are beginning to plan for senior care and arrangements after death.
"We discovered that an increasing number of young people are paying attention to pre-planned funeral arrangement, despite the fact that those over 60 are unquestionably the mainstream customers," Xing said.
"Death is not a taboo subject for young people and so many of them are paying attention to the contracts and sending us a lot of questions," he said.
"My mother signed the contract, and I learned about the service for the first time when handling it," said Xiao Rong, 28, from Shanghai.
"I signed after her because you can never predict the future," she explained.
"I don't mind discussing the subject, and planning ahead of time isn't a bad idea," she added.
Tomb-sweeping services have also been moved online, and people can leave messages for their deceased loved ones.
These messages will be written on aeolian bells and hung on trees by the tomb.