How Different Generations Deal With Death?

celebrant training Sep 08, 2023

Dealing with death and bereavement is a deeply human experience, but the way different generations approach and cope with it can vary significantly. These variations are influenced by a combination of cultural, societal, technological, and personal factors. 


Knowing how people deal with death is an important part of being a Celebrant, because you will be working closely with the bereaved should you decide to work in funeral services. 


You’ll notice throughout your career that everyone deals with death differently, and we always advocate listening to your families actively, but it may be interesting to recognise that there can be some similarities in how certain generations respond. 


We will specifically discuss similarities and differences between The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.

The Silent Generation


The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) grew up during a time when death was a more prevalent and visible aspect of life. Mortality rates were higher, and families often lived in close-knit communities where death was discussed openly. Consequently, the Silent Generation tends to approach death with a certain level of acceptance and stoicism. 

This generation, now in their 80s and 90s, are likely to be losing spouses, lifelong friends and even older children. They are more likely to have pre-planned funerals and wills, emphasising the importance of preparing for the inevitable. Their experiences with World War II and other historical events also shaped their perspective on death, leading to a strong sense of duty and responsibility in dealing with end-of-life matters.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) were influenced by the cultural shifts of the 1960s and 1970s, which brought about a more individualistic and less formal approach to life and death. It was during this era, of course, that Celebrancy itself was born, due to a huge cultural shift in perspectives (read more about this in our interview with Dally Messenger). 

Many Boomers sought alternative funeral practices and pioneered the concept of celebrating a person’s life rather than mourning their death. They began questioning traditional religious practices and adopted a more diverse range of spiritual beliefs, including hiring Celebrants for funerals rather than relying on a religious official. 

As they age, Baby Boomers are now confronting the deaths of their peers and loved ones on a larger scale and it is this age group that you are most likely to encounter as clients seeking funeral arrangements for their parents, siblings or friends. 

Gen X

Generation X (born 1965-1980) experienced significant societal changes during their formative years, including the rise of divorce rates and dual-income households. As a result, they often had to cope with loss and bereavement at an earlier age due to family breakdowns. This early exposure to death may have contributed to a pragmatic and self-reliant attitude when dealing with end-of-life matters. 

Generation X is also the generation that has witnessed the growth of the internet, which has made information about death and grieving more accessible. They tend to approach death with a mix of traditional and modern perspectives, seeking both online resources and professional guidance from Celebrants.


Millennials (born 1981-1996) grew up in a digital age with constant access to information and social media. This has shaped their approach to death and bereavement in several ways. They are more likely to memorialise loved ones through online tributes, creating a digital footprint that endures beyond death. On the other hand, the digital age has made them more disconnected from death’s immediate realities, often leading to delayed coping mechanisms. Millennials also demonstrate a preference for eco-friendly and minimalist end-of-life practices, such as green burials and cremation. 

Gen Z

Generation Z (born 1997 onwards) is the youngest generation and is still in the process of forming its relationship with death and bereavement. Growing up with technology from birth, they are comfortable navigating online spaces to express their grief and connect with others who have experienced loss. However, the immediacy of the digital age can also desensitise them to the harsh realities of death. Generation Z is characterised by a desire for authenticity and social justice, which may lead them to seek more meaningful and eco-conscious approaches to death, such as natural burials.

What do the Differences Mean To Us?

The differences in how these generations deal with death and bereavement can be attributed to cultural shifts, technological advances, the structure of family, economic climate, and healthcare advances. It is a complex interplay of historical, cultural, technological, and personal factors. Each generation brings its unique perspective and coping mechanisms to the table, reflecting the evolving nature of human attitudes toward mortality. 

As society continues to change, so too will our collective approach to death and the rituals and practices associated with it. As a Celebrant, it is important that you continue to grow and learn with those around you, as societies change and re-shape over time. By equipping yourself with knowledge about death, grieving and coping mechanisms, you can bring your clients a better and more meaningful service to honour their loved ones.