nontraditional

2016 Trends that Shaped Funeral Service–Part II

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2016-trendsLast week we began a review of 10 developments in funeral service that caught the attention of national–and sometimes–international media. Coverage focused on changing trends, occasionally on what went wrong, and often what were the most outrageous ideas. Here are another five topics that demonstrate what is catching the attention of media outlets and their readers.  Read the rest of this entry »

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DIY Funerals: How Funeral Directors Can Help

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lights-light-bulb-ideaLike the electrician who corrected the problems I caused with my home’s wiring, funeral professionals have opportunities to help families avoid problems with whatever options they take upon themselves to memorialize loved ones. Not everyone will be comfortable with these options, but consider how you might offer your expertise (for a fee) to DIY-minded funeral families.  Read the rest of this entry »

DIY Funerals: The Rewiring of Our Memorialization Mindset

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pexels-photo-41113A few years ago I thought it would be nice to have the lights in my home automatically turn on whenever someone entered each room. I’m a fairly capable do-it-yourself home owner; how hard could it be to replace a few switches? Everything went smoothly when I replaced the first one, but after replacing the second switch, I discovered that the kitchen range had lost power. Then I noticed that several electrical outlets in an upstairs bathroom no longer worked and that the dining room chandelier shone only in a pale imitation of its former self.

After much gnashing of teeth, the licensed electrician I forced myself to call gave me his gentle and much-rehearsed recitation about the many home owners who think they have adequate knowledge about house wiring when, in fact, they don’t have enough knowledge to know what they don’t know.

DIY Trends in Funerals and Memorialization

Funeral directors haven’t explained it takes years of experience and many hours of hard work to make implementing funerals look easy.

I’m seeing a similar trend in funeral service. Over the years, funeral professionals have shielded families from the hundreds of details they perform on their behalf. They never stopped to explain that it takes years of experience and many hours of hard work to make arranging and implementing funerals look easy. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many families believe they can perform these services themselves. Other families may not perceive that funeral directors can provide unique and meaningful experiences that honor loved ones and begin the healing process.
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10 Things I’ve Learned from Working with Funeral Directors

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9-1 10 Things Funeral Service Smith
Here’s a typical conversation that I have when I’m out with friends, meeting new people.

“What do you do?” asks someone who doesn’t really care but feels obligated to engage me in conversation.

“I work for a trade association that works with independently owned funeral homes. I’m a meeting planner.” I respond to cut to the chase.

“Oh! So you plan funerals? Do you embalm bodies?” returns the individual who now has a stronger interest in hearing what I have to say and obviously wasn’t listening.

“No. But I know quite a few people who do. Why? Do you need a discount on an urn?”

The asker typically turns pale and isn’t sure where to go from there.

So goes many a conversation at cocktail parties and other events when I have the opportunity to interact with anyone who doesn’t work in funeral service. It’s made me stop and think about what funeral directors face when they share their story with others.

Since I joined OGR’s staff four years ago, I’ve learned quite a bit about funeral service professionals and have found that they have a pretty challenging job. They work long, irregular hours around strange smells, extreme emotions, and lots of paperwork. They respond to phone calls in the middle of the night, often miss holidays with their families, and care for dead bodies. They maintain composure and professionalism in the midst of family conflict, inclement weather, and national tragedies. A lot of what they do is behind the scenes, unseen and unheard.  Read the rest of this entry »

5 Ways Millennials Will Blow Up Funeral Service

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8-16 Allen MillennialsI recently wrote about how baby boomers (ages 52-70 in 2016) are changing funeral service by demanding more personalization and value. According to a study of 3,500 baby boomers conducted by McKee Wallwork + Co., 48 percent of study participants said they were dissatisfied with funeral service as a whole and 63 percent reported being dissatisfied with their interaction with the funeral home. Where I went to school, those scores were failing grades!

Here’s an even scarier thought. Whereas baby boomers want to dress up the traditional funeral, millennials (ages 18-34 in 2016) want to blow it up and start over. To some it may seem too early to start worrying about what millennials want from funeral service. After all, the older members of this segment are in their mid-thirties.

Consider this: millennials are going to change everything. Goldman Sachs wrote, “One of the largest generations in history is about to move into its prime spending years. Millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.” Uh oh. That includes funeral service!  Read the rest of this entry »