Latest Event Updates

“Creative Options for Cremated Remains”

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Cremation is on the rise in the United States. According to the 2014 NFDA Cremation and Burial Report: Research, Statistics and Projections, the number of cremations is expected to surpass that of burials in 2015. As more people began to turn to cremation, more creative ways of spreading ashes have developed.

Traditionally, cremated remains (or “cremains“) are kept in an urn in the house or buried in a cemetery. It is also quite common for people to scatter the cremains of their loved ones over land or sea. Thanks to the creative minds of an eccentric generation, these are no longer the only options.

Here is my countdown for the top five, most unusual options available for handling cremated remains. Chances are you have heard of some of them or maybe they have never even crossed your mind.  Read the rest of this entry »

5 Reasons to Consider “Family Desairology”

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Desairology? Is that a thing? According to, “The art of Desairology involves caring for the hair, skin and nails of the deceased in a funeral home preparation room. The specialty is performed by a Desairologist who is licensed in cosmetology under state law.”

But wait! Like everything in funeral service, Desairology is in the process of morphing.

In her commentary for Mortuary Management, Kim Stacey describes how a young woman named Monica Torres, a licensed funeral director, embalmer, Desairologist and owner of NXT Generation Mortuary Support Services, is pushing the boundaries.  Monica agrees with many funeral professionals who believe poor feature setting and terrible body appearance have helped push people away from traditional funerals. She integrates her skills as embalmer and cosmetologist to create a life-like look that will leave families with positive memories of their loved ones. It’s a blend of restorative arts, embalming and cosmetology. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Reasons Why Aftercare Programs Matter

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By Connie Haymes, GSG Director

OGR is partnering with The Foresight Companies to offer step-by-step instructions on how funeral directors can improve their aftercare programs. We recognize the challenges of trying to provide the highest level of care for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. OGR’s new aftercare program will bring together the best ideas and proven strategies on the most important issue in funeral service – care of the survivors.

If you’re like most funeral professionals, you’re offering some form of aftercare to the families you serve. Have you ever thought about the importance of aftercare? Here are 5 reasons why Aftercare and Outreach Programs are important now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Mr. Hyde Save Dr. Jekyll?

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Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde Funeral Service OGR
Photo credit: Profound Whatever / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Dr. Jekyll side of me wants to stick with tried and true ways to serve OGR members. My Mr. Hyde side is itching to try all sorts of crazy new ideas. Mr. Hyde is scary and unpredictable. Turns out his approach may be necessary for OGR and its members’ long-term survival because an even scarier and more unpredictable foe is about to hit funeral service: disruptive competitors.

Although disruptive competitors are making headlines these days, they’re not new. What’s new is that technology is enabling their numbers to explode. Southwest Airlines is an “old-school” disruptor that made a name for itself by offering inexpensive, no-frills service on underserved routes. More recently, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have cut into taxi companies’ market shares. Air BnB is threatening hotels connecting people who have rooms, apartments or houses to rent temporarily with those who are looking for places to stay temporarily.

What makes an innovator so disruptive? Read the rest of this entry »

Does Funeral Service Have an Image Problem?

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Credit: U.S. Embassy New Delhi / Foter / CC BY-ND

Jacqueline Kennedy once famously wrote that her aim was to be the “art director of the twentieth century.” Little did she know that some of the most enduring images she would help create would come from her husband’s funeral ceremonies after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. These images were so striking that they are etched in people’s minds as vividly today as they were 50 years ago. Those who have only seen photographs—many who weren’t born yet–feel as though they witnessed the proceedings: Black Jack the riderless horse with boots positioned backwards in the stirrups; six white horses pulling the caisson upon which the President’s flag-draped casket rested; John, Jr., donned in blue coat and shorts on his third birthday, saluting his father’s casket on its way to burial.

Mrs. Kennedy wanted to send a clear message to the world that her husband deserved to be remembered. She wanted people to come together to grieve a lost life. Drawing upon her art background, she recognized that people would be more likely to follow a path of healing and remember the President longer if visual images relating to his death stayed with them.  Read the rest of this entry »

Social Media: Who Needs It?

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A few years ago more than 500,000 fans of comedienne Betty White started a grassroots campaign on Facebook calling for her to appear on the late night television program Saturday Night Live. It worked. Ms. White was soon booked to host the May 9, 2010 show. After thanking Facebook users for their support in her opening monologue, she said “I didn’t know what Facebook was! And now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time!”

Photo credit: Peter Ras / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

For anyone over 40 years old, social media can be an enigma. Are Facebook friends real friends? Should I care what someone I haven’t seen in 30 years ate for dinner last night? Do I now need to follow Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google Plus+–and a host of ever-changing social media sites—to have a place in the world?

More relevant to funeral service, how does social media treat people who are grieving? A growing number of grief experts have commented on its utility as a way for people to express grief and reach out for comfort. Likewise, social media offers a way for friends and loved ones to offer words of comfort and encouragement without the awkward stumbling to find the right words. Simply erase and retype until your message sounds appropriate.   Read the rest of this entry »

Putting the “Fun” in Funerals: Yes, We Said It.

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I’ll avoid the obvious pun, but has anyone else noticed signs that more people are interested in having fun while planning their funerals? Okay, maybe fun is overstating the trend, but instead of avoiding final planning at any cost, it appears that more people are recognizing that death is, in fact, a part of life, and you might as well make the best of it.

Case in point: two professional baseball teams featured “funeral night” at games. Who saw THAT one coming? In both instances, “funeral night” featured drawing the name of a “lucky” fan to receive an all-expenses-paid funeral. The marketing masterminds behind these promotions were undoubtedly interested in drawing attention to their baseball games rather than promote the value of funerals. The interesting thing is that scores of people entered these contests with the sincere hope of winning. The two men who won funerals seemed genuinely grateful to have won something of value.


That’s where we’ve gone wrong in funeral service. We assumed that each generation explained to the next why funerals are important. They didn’t. Most Gen Xers and younger folks will tell you they want to be put in a shoebox while their friends have a blow-out party. They don’t see any value in having a “funeral.”

Photo credit: Simon Westlake /

Back to fun. An Australian funeral home has had great success promoting advanced cremation planning through whimsical ads and billboards showing a naked elderly man sitting on a log by a campfire. The underlying message is that no one should feel uncomfortable with final planning because it’s our opportunity to plan a memorial service that reflects your life, your personality and your character. The same funeral home continues to push boundaries by creating marketing that communicates the reward funerals can offer to the person planning his or her own funeral. I won’t say it’s putting the fun back in funerals so much as putting the celebration back in funerals.

Not a bad concept.

 By Mark Allen, OGR Executive Director