Direct cremation rates are on the rise, and have been for a long time.
Harsh truth alert: People are increasingly seeing that a full blown traditional funeral isn’t only expensive, but also unnecessary.
Whatever the reason is, we want to equip you with some options to offer families who would like to save money and skip the hassle of a traditional funeral.
Offering these alternatives to families will aid you in creating more meaning for families, as well as helping you keep the lights on.
Here are 6 alternatives to offer direct cremation families:
1. Ash scattering ceremony
Families who don’t necessarily want a service of any kind still (likely) desire closure in their lives. An ash scattering ceremony offers that for families. By putting the ashes to rest in a place that’s meaningful for them, they can say their goodbyes and see, with their own eyes, what it means to allow their loved one to be put to rest.
For ideas and inspiration on ash scattering ceremonies, check out this blog.
2. “Letting go” ceremony
One thing I wish I had been able to do with my family when my grandparents passed away is have a sharing circle where we each talk about how much our grandparents meant to us. You can offer this in a special public or non-public spot that is meaningful for the loved one and the surviving family.
The ceremony is simple: choose a gathering spot and take a few minutes for each family member to share their favorite memories of their loved one. You can offer 1 minute after each share for everyone to respond or “resonate” with what was just spoken. This simple and easy ceremony offers lots of emotional support for the family, and brings everyone closer together. You can end the ceremony with a simple meditation or even a release or burying of something.
3. Remembrance potluck or picnic
This is a really easy way to entertain everyone and create a celebration environment for families who want to celebrate their loved one. Host at your funeral home if you have the space, or even your cemetery outside with a beautiful setting. Have everyone make a dish that reminds them of their loved one, or that their loved one absolutely adored.
During the potluck, offer questions or space for shares that gets people talking about the loved one and sharing memories and stories. We love this option because it’s very easy to create and forces everyone to become an active part of the funeral process!
4. Release ceremony
One of my favorite aspects of funeral service is when there is a release of balloons, butterflies, doves, and everything in between. You can simply offer this as the funeral service, which gives everyone a chance to share a memory or story before they all release a chosen item to the wind. My favorite idea is to use balloons, and have everyone write a note to the loved one and put it inside the balloon, before they send it off.
Check out this blog for some things you can try to release in honor of the loved one.
5. Tribute video reveal
For families that don’t have time or money to create a ceremonial experience, a tribute video is a great gift to offer families. Simply ask them to share their favorite videos and photos of the loved one, and create a tribute video using your tribute video software and give a copy to everyone in the family who would like. You could even have a virtual tribute video watch party for them as well, giving everyone a chance to share what comes up for them as they watch it. A simple, yet effective way to help families on their grief journey.
Pro tip: if you don’t already have a tribute software you love, try Life Tributes 30 days for free.
6. Virtual dinner party
For those who live far away from their loved one and are unable to travel, the idea of a virtual dinner party celebration is a great way to involve everyone in the grief process and life celebration. Ask the closest family member for the loved one’s favorite recipe, then have everyone around the world prepare the recipe on their own, and come together on Zoom to eat the dinner, and share memories and stories together. Wine is always welcome too 😉
The common denominator: service
Notice that in all of these ideas, there is a cost to service ratio that works well. Instead of paying a lot of money for something traditional that means very little to families, they want to pay reasonable prices for things that are rich in meaning for them. Usually these things that are rich in meaning are easy and affordable for you to create, so try some of these ideas out and let us know how you go!
What other ideas do you want to offer to funeral homes struggling with high direct cremation rates? Share them in the comments below!