There is a lot of talk about this on the internet, but a lot of that talk says that our profession is changing because our customer is changing. This is true. But what if we showed the world that the funeral profession is changing because we WANT to change, to better serve the world?
How do we make the splash that we need to inspire people to start seeing funerals, funeral directors, and funeral homes differently?
That’s the question of the hour, my friends. And my answer, for now, is to make our splash through our actions. Through our level of service, the one thing we know (and do) best.
Here are five types of inspiring funeral services we believe that are going to change the way the world thinks about funeral service… and how you can start offering these services at your funeral home today.
1: A funeral service that invites healthy grieving
It’s true that less and less people are choosing religious funerals. But this particular widow took that idea to a whole new level. She created a sign for all attendees to read as they entered the service which asked them to refrain from empty statements like “They’re in a better place” or “Things happen for a reason”.
It not only shocked attendees, but it inspired them to spread the word about using empty language and instead choosing to authentically console the grieving. In my opinion, this approach encourages a healthier grieving process that places emphasis on authenticity and stories – two things which every funeral service could do more with.
2: A funeral service that puts the family in the driver’s seat
Schlitzer Allen Pugh Funeral Home uses their tribute video software as an opportunity to give family and friends a bigger role in the planning of a loved one’s funeral. From their experience, this makes the service feel more meaningful to the family. “Usually, we’ll get photos and we can scan them. Or, we can send you a link that you can upload them. So, if you have family all over the country, with the upload link, everybody can participate. It’s really nice that with the technology, everybody can participate, even if they’re not right here,” one funeral director from Schlitzer said.
With so many families who question the value of funeral homes and their services, this approach really puts those questions to rest. In this way, funeral directors are creating a really tangible space for families to truly come together and remember their loved one. Plus, as a funeral director, this touch is a really easy and low cost add-on for families, yet huge in perceived value.
3: A funeral service inspired by a community
Louise Winter, a renowned host of Death Cafes in Europe, recently had an experience where a funeral director touched her shoulder and said “No one wants to talk about death sweetheart”. The next day, she explained, “nearly 100 people came to a Death Cafe I was hosting in Shoreditch. Every nook and cranny of the cafe was filled with people who were dying to talk about death”.
These Death Cafes have been around for quite a while, and are often filled to the brim with people who want to eat cake, drink tea and talk about everything under the sun pertaining to death.
When Louise’s friend, Jon Underwood passed away unexpectedly, his funeral service was incredibly inspired by all the beautiful ideas shared in his Death Cafes. He even had a “cake therapy” session at his funeral. His funeral, which was super uncanny and community-oriented, is the perfect testament to how inspiring funerals can be.
4: A funeral service planned by the loved one
One company based in London, Poetic Endings, provides their potential client families withpages and pages of inspiration for their inevitable goodbye. They offer options that range from silent funerals to funeral festivals, and everything in between. Their website has inspired many people to take it upon themselves to make their funeral plans far ahead of time, including this journalist, Susanne, aged only 33, who decided she wants “pizzaz” at her funeral:
“Beautifully scented candles will flicker as I make my grand entrance into the stylish venue. Friends and family, dressed in their best attire, will make heart-warming and hilarious of speeches.
Later, with the Champagne flowing and the DJ playing funky soul, everyone will get trashed and dance until the early hours. You see, I want my big day to play out in a certain way – even if I am lying in my coffin.”
Although Poetic Endings website just focuses on goodbyes, many of the funeral celebrant websites we’ve seen perform all kinds of ceremonies, including naming and wedding ceremonies. Although my research was solely for funerals, I couldn’t help but look at the wedding and naming ceremonies, and can imagine how many other potential client families do the same when making their funeral plans – either for themselves, or a loved one.
5: A funeral service and a wedding
Many funeral home are transforming their beautiful facilities as a multi-use space for weddings and other ceremonies. One particular service at Larkin Mortuary touched our hearts. A woman requested to get married at Larkin because her grandfather was buried on the grounds, and she wanted to feel close to him while she celebrated the happiest day of her life.
Thankfully, Larkin has greenhouses and gardens that offer a stunning location for any kind of ceremony, which made the request easy for them to make happen for this particular client family.