When it comes to personalizing funerals, images, tribute videos, bookmarks, or maybe a balloon release might come to mind.
However, the truth is that there are many ways to personalize a funeral that go beyond services or outward appearances.
For me, a personalized funeral doesn’t look any certain kind of way.
A personalized funeral is one where at least some of the following attributes are present:
What a personalized funeral service is NOT
There are MANY opportunities to include these attributes into a service. And I don’t want us to get stuck in thinking that a personalized service needs to include personalized bookmarks or balloon releases.
A personalized service could very well look like a traditional burial if that’s what’s meaningful for the loved one and the family. It could look like everyone dressed in black, too. Or, it could look like a wild night at a bar with go-go dancers, everyone taking shots to celebrate their uncle. The diversity available to us in celebrating life is just as diverse as we are.
3 unexpected opportunities to create a personalized service
Now that we know what a personalized funeral service is NOT, let’s talk about some ways we can incorporate attributes of personalized funerals in new ways. These are simple, easy, FREE ways to add meaning and richness to your service offerings.
Check them out below:
1. The disposition
Of course there are the basic options for disposition: burial and cremation. But what kinds of options do you offer to add personalized elements around the disposition? This is especially important for direct cremation. A direct cremation without any level of service is certainly a shame. Everyone deserves a moment of honor and dignity when they pass away. Some ways you can offer these moments are:
- Ask the family to create a ritual of remembrance as they put their loved one to rest. Encourage them to get creative!
- Offer an opportunity to share memories or words about the loved one before you even get into your services and offerings
- Ask the family which disposition method would be most meaningful for their loved one and for them before letting them know their options
2. The arrangement meeting
“Personalize an arrangement meeting… Wait, what?” you must be thinking. But it’s true. An arrangement meeting can actually be seen as a personalization meeting. Because isn’t that what we’re here to do? Help our families create meaning in the experience of pain?
I met with (the client family) to discuss possibilities for her service, listening as they recalled all the plays and student activities she had directed, and her many interests. I let my imagination run with ideas to celebrate her life. Developing these ideas, or what I’d like to call imagineering, had begun.
As you can see from his wording, an arrangement meeting can easily go from being a dreaded event to an opportunity for creativity, inspiration, love and all elements through what Pray calls “imagineering”.
Here are some questions you can ask your client families to create this sort of environment:
- What are some of your loved one’s interests?
- What are your favorite memories of your loved one?
- What would be one thing your loved one would want to happen in honor of their passing?
- What would be most healing for your family to do together to celebrate the life of your loved one?
These questions are just a starting point. We bet they’ll lead to more follow up questions to get the momentum going as you chat with your families!
3. After the funeral
We often think as funeral professionals that our work is done after the funeral service is over. However, I am seeing aftercare and grief support as the largest opportunity for funeral homes and professionals to expand into this year and beyond. Continuing to support your families after the funeral is over could contribute to a long term relationship with a family. In that way, you’ll be top of mind for them as the professional to turn to should they need support through loss. Talk about establishing yourself as a leader!
Here are some ways to support your families after the funeral:
- Offer them 365 days of email affirmations for free
- Offer grief support groups each week or month
- Have grief support events, luncheons or workshops at your funeral home
- Send holiday cards to your families to let them know you’re thinking of them as they continue to heal from the loss
For more grief support ideas, check out this article from our blog!
…. But what about during the funeral?
Yes, it’s true, there are MANY ways to personalize a funeral service. And we mean tons. You already know some great ideas of your own, I’m sure. This blog was focused more on the subtle ways we can offer personalization. However, if you’re interested in learning more ways to personalize a funeral service for yourself or a client family, here are some great resources to get you started:
If your funeral home isn’t already being supported in your funeral personalization efforts by an all-in-one personalization software, you’re missing out. Click here to learn more about Life Tributes All-In-One Personalization Software and get a free 30-day trial!
How else do you find subtle and creative ways to create personalization in your funeral home? Tell us in the comments below!