Originally Posted on the funeralOne Blog
Despite its ever-growing popularity, cremation still hasn’t exactly found favor within the community of funeral professionals.
It’s kind of like the new kid on the block… the one from a place we don’t recognize, who we haven’t quite figured out just yet. At least, that’s how the subject of cremation is often regarded by funeral directors.
And we get it: it’s easy to see something like cremation as a disruption to the profession that you are so passionate about. But it doesn’t have to be the enemy of the traditional funeral. In fact, it’s not impossible to embrace cremation AND still remain true to your roots, while also remaining loyal to the profession you’ve devoted your life to.
After all, the goal of your funeral home should be to provide families with meaningful offerings when they need you the most, which includes providing them with the unique products and services they are interested in. Therefore, if your firm has not already embraced the growing trend of cremation alongside the products and services you offer, now is the time to start.
Still not convinced that cremation is what families really way? Many surveys show that in the United States, the rate at which families are selecting cremation for their loved one has nearly doubled since 1999, and the Cremation Association of North American predicts that by 2019, 2 out of 4 Americans will choose cremation for their loved ones
So if it wasn’t clear already, accepting, embracing and carving out a space for cremation services might just be the very best thing you can begin doing today in order to achieve your goals and serve your community best. Here’s why:
1. Let your funeral home be just the starting point of a more meaningful service.
It’s likely already part of your personal mission to enable your families to honor their loved one in the most appropriate, meaningful and intentional way. And time-held tradition is absolutely a great place to look for cues as to what is appropriate and meaningful, but it’s not the only place… In fact, there might actually be real, physical places that connect to a loved one’s essence or a family’s history more aptly than your funeral home or any place of worship can. The problem is, in by-the-book, traditional funerals, these special locations are rarely remembered.
Cremation ceremonies allow you to be less fixed on location and, for some families, this will be an important part of what it means to fully honor their loved one. For example, the family farm that a man worked on his whole life, or a woman’s favorite hiking route where she spent her happiest days. Both of these are examples of stories and memories that families can honor by allowing an ash scattering ceremony to be held at these locations.
2. Give your families the opportunities to embrace new traditions as they personalize their loved one’s service.
Traditions are built one day, one event, one idea at a time. The traditional funeral model was once as much a “new” concept as cremation, and both means of memorial have roots that can be traced back ages and ages. Likewise, the families you serve may have personal reasons for wanting a cremation rather than traditional burial, such as a tradition of their own through the generations or any other reason they have that dissuades them from the traditional burial process.
Other families may be bored of the tradition of funerals all together and may feel like cremation offers the most meaningful ceremony available, especially thanks to the many customization and personalization offerings out there. In fact, our survey found that just over half of the people we talked to answered “They’re an important tradition in life” when asked to describe their feelings about funerals. The other 49 percent of people may dismiss the idea of a funeral all together, because they simply don’t see the value in it.
But even the folks who don’t see what the big deal is about a funeral and opt for the lowest-cost option—cremation, typically—might change their tune when you reveal all the ways you can really tailor a service to perfectly suit the family and honor their loved one. Consider this, alongside your steadfast commitment to your profession and serving families in their time of grief. When cremation is something you can offer, you simply serve more families and serve them better.
3. Provide options for families with unique tastes and specific preferences.
So, you’re a purist… You drink your coffee black, you read paper books rather than go anywhere near an e-reader, and you believe traditional burial is the most appropriate method. But since you wouldn’t kick a client out of your firm for requesting milk and sugar in their coffee, maybe cremation is similar. The thing is, the old phrase “different strokes for different folks” holds really true here. And while many do agree with you that a traditional funeral is the best solution for their loved ones, a growing population believes that there’s more out there. In particular, our survey found that younger folks place a great emphasis on meaningful moments, citing their desire to “spread ashes in a meaningful way” as their top reason for opting for cremation of their loved ones.
The fact is, not everyone has the same personal attachment to a traditional funeral as perhaps you wish. It can be due to a number of factors: an increasing emphasis on mindfulness and intentional living that has individuals making decisions differently than before, or feeling like their loved one deserves a more stand-out ceremony than the ones they have previously attended. Some are uncomfortable with the idea of mixing old tradition with whimsy, imagination or creativity. And it may simply come down to trying to provide a loved one with the most meaningful ceremony possible while on a small budget.
Whatever the cause, these client families with unique tastes or limited spending power are still in want and need of your help to give their loved one the special service they deserve. Are a funeral professional and voice of knowledge here, you are in the position to give them every option and bit of information possible, so they can create the most suitable memorial.
4. Be a source of knowledge, comfort and support for families who need it the most.
We know people come across your door—or email inbox, or telephone lines—from all avenues of life. Some are prepared and able to discuss business; others need more hand-holding and emotional guidance through the decision-making process. In order to best serve the families on every end of the spectrum, you want to remember your responsibility to them.
As a source of more knowledge and information than your clients have, you can be the one who suggests the best options and provides all the necessary and meaningful additions to a service, whether the family ends up selecting a traditional funeral or a cremation for their loved one. This way, if they do choose cremation, it won’t be because it’s the best option for their bottom line. It will be because your funeral home has given them the opportunity, products and services to celebrate the life of their loved one in the most valuable way.
When you’re prepared to offer cremation as an option, be sure to indicate so on your website to help families prepare themselves for your discussion before they arrive, as well as direct families to your door who are either on the fence or decided about cremation.