Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” That’s a poetic way of saying that we can learn from the past, especially as the world continues to rapidly change. OGR’s weekly e-newsletter, Independent Insider, reported on events, issues, and trends of interest to funeral professionals. Here are the five most popular articles of 2017.
- Man Cremated in a Giant Lego Brick
The parents of a 21-year old man who died of leukemia opted for a Lego brick for a casket because, “goodbyes don’t have to be negative.” The headlines in 2017 were filled with stories about the creative one-of-a-kind caskets loved ones chose to reflect the personalities of their loved ones.
What this tells funeral professionals: Families are looking for ways to personalize caskets and urns. If your favorite casket company isn’t able to provide adequate options to personalize a casket, ask local auto body or woodworking shops if they can customize caskets using paint techniques, decals or other means. Urns can be made in almost any shape using 3-D printers.
- The Legalities of DIY Funerals
“A growing number of people feel that our existing institutions no longer adequately help us face the inevitable,” wrote an author who presented legalities that families need to know when they take control of funerals. He added, “This cultural shift takes many forms from DIY funerals to greener forms of burial.”
What this tells funeral professionals: A fairly small slice of families currently prefer the intimacy of home funerals, but it’s a trend that is getting a lot of media coverage. Becoming knowledgeable about funeral laws, particularly state and local regulations, and how you can help families conduct a home funeral may become more important as time goes on. Don’t wait too long to become the expert in your community.
- “Traditional” Funeral Home Drops Embalming from Its Offerings
“Customers can receive all the services of a traditional funeral home except embalming” at a facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The owners decided not to offer embalming because chemicals are harmful to people and the environment. They’ve gotten a lot of attention by differentiating themselves from other funeral homes in a way that projects a positive message (safety, environmental concern).
What this tells funeral professionals: Owners of funeral homes can’t be afraid to stand out by offering services for families wanting niche services. Cremation has pushed funeral service toward being a commodity, so look for ways you can offer something unique to families. Options include assisting families with home funerals, offering a scattering garden open to all community residents, or coordinating ceremonies or memorial services at community venues.
- Funeral Home Thrives with No Chapel, Hearse, Staff, or Building
A sales professional with no previous connection to funeral service opened a funeral home in Australia that’s “sort of like the Uber of the funeral industry.” The owner rejected the traditional funeral home business model and started one that customizes every funeral by outsourcing everything from where ceremonies are held to vehicles used to transport the deceased. The owner claims that most customized ceremonies cost families about the same as traditional funerals.
What this tells funeral professionals: Families are not coming to you to use your building. They’re coming to you to help them create unique experiences that honor their loved ones and help them begin coping with their grief. Be prepared to create themed funerals or hold ceremonies in alternative locations. Call local rental and theater companies to supply props and décor that reflect the deceased’s life. Creativity counts more than ever.
- 9 Puns Funeral Directors Don’t Think Are Funny
The most popular Independent Insider article of 2017 contained no useful advice, no relevant tips or informative statistics. It listed the stale puns that every funeral director has heard a million times.
What this tells funeral professionals: Bad puns are a reminder that death is an uncomfortable subject for most people. They may need some time to become comfortable with your occupation. The next time a terrible pun is hurled at you, remember that thousands of other funeral professionals are mentally rolling their eyes with you.
Have a healthy and happy 2018!
By OGR CEO/Executive Director