How AI Can Be Used in Funeral Services

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a burgeoning tool I’m sure you’ve heard about lately, but how can you use it or should you even use it in the funeral industry? There are various AI tools available for content writing and image and video creation. In this post we will focus on tips for content writing with AI for funeral services.

ChatGPT is the most widely available AI content generation tool currently. Microsoft also has a tool incorporated into their search engine, Bing, and Google offers one called Bard.

While you may have hesitations about trying this tool for content for a funeral, it’s not meant to replace human connection or the writing process. It’s best used as a brainstorming tool and creativity boost to help you and your client families write about their loved one in a way that’s meaningful and ultimately full of the human emotion and experience that a bot can never replace. We know you are juggling a lot of responsibilities and duties, so this is meant to be an outline to get your writing started, saving you precious time.

Remember that AI is a tool that is continually learning, so not all information you receive may be accurate. If you’re looking for information that needs a source, check the source the AI provides or search manually and, as ChatGPT reminds you on their homepage, do not input sensitive data.

To use ChatGPT, create a sign in, or sign in using your email provider. You will see the screen below:

ChatGPT Homepage

All you need to do next is enter any question you’d like to ask the bot and it will generate an immediate response. 

ChatGPT Question

In this blog post, we have provided some topics ChatGPT can help you answer about a funeral service and sample questions to ask the bot.

Memorial Ideas

Question for ChatGPT: “Provide four memorial ideas for a 78-year-old woman who has passed away.”

ChatGPT’s answer to this question is basic and non-specific (memorial service, memory book, memorial donation, memorial garden). But, you can dive deeper once you have this foundational answer. If a client family or the deceased has chosen cremation, here are memorial service ideas you can implement.

Question for ChatGPT: “What else would you include in a memorial service?”

This question, or a similar one, is good to ask if you want more information on an answer the bot has given. The answers it gave when I asked this are: eulogy, readings and poems, music, video montage or slideshow, open mic or sharing time, symbolic gestures (lighting candles, releasing balloons or doves, planting a tree), reception or gathering. Here are some other ideas to include in a memorial service where family members can participate.

Question for ChatGPT: “What are some popular non-religious readings for a memorial service?”

You can ask for specifics if you’re stumped on a particular section of the memorial service. When I asked this question, the bot generated many specific options broken into categories including poems: “Remember” by Christina Rossetti and “When Great Trees Fall” by Maya Angelou, prose and excerpts: From “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and from “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver, readings and quotes: “We Remember Them” (Jewish remembrance prayer) and “The Life That I Have” by Leo Marks. Here are some tips for serving clients who are not religiously affiliated.

When I asked this as a stand-alone question, I received a different list of reading suggestions from the above. The bot uses its experience answering your previous series of questions to “learn” how to answer your next questions, so you may receive a different answer depending on what you’ve asked it previously or what it has “learned” through your previous interactions.

You can dive deeper with ChatGPT into any aspect of a service, such as “What kind of memorial trees can I plant and how are they each symbolic?” or “What songs can I play at a memorial service for someone who loved Beethoven?” The more specific your question, the more detailed an answer you will receive.

Obituary or Eulogy Content

Question for ChatGPT: “Please write an outline of an obituary.”

If a family member doesn’t know where to start when writing an obituary, instead of spending time thinking of all the elements you include when you write one, just ask ChatGPT. When I typed in this question, I received the following main points for writing an obituary: introduction, early life and background, education and career, personal life, relationships and family, legacy and impact, funeral or memorial service details, closing. Each main point had 2-3 bullet points, further detailing what information to include or questions to ask loved ones. Here are four obituary examples.

Question for ChatGPT: “Can you give me an example of a eulogy?”

Sometimes, especially when someone is grieving, it can be difficult to find a creative spark to properly honor the life of someone you love. Providing a grieving client family member some ideas, even ones generated by AI, can be helpful when they start writing.

Scripts for Memorial Videos

Question for ChatGPT: “What questions should I ask in a memorial video script?”

Many of the suggestions ChatGPT generated were like the obituary outline, but you can always ask the bot more specific questions about the type of person you’re honoring to generate a more specific response.

Question for ChatGPT: “Generate five new titles for a memorial video about [insert name] who liked to [insert activity or cause they were passionate about].”

By giving the bot a few extra details, you can generate unique answers that are tailored to the person you’re honoring. Although, just remember that AI is great for brainstorming ideas, but only you can add the personal touches.

Trends in Death Care

Question for ChatGPT: “Describe five new options for death care and cite your sources.”

Instead of searching on the web for articles and news about death care trends, ChatGPT can pull information for you and tell you where they found each option. You can then either ask another question for further detail or investigate the source manually. You can also read about the many final disposition options for a person who chooses cremation.

AI isn’t meant to make you “lazy” or substitute human emotion or full paragraphs of content. However, using it to spark creativity or generate ideas or initial research around a topic can be helpful. Just remember to use it as a brainstorming tool instead of as a professional content writer. Nothing can replace genuine human emotion.

If you’re headed to NFDA September 10-13 and would like to learn more about AI in the funeral industry, check out Dennis Yu’s keynote Embracing AI Technology.

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