4 Low-Cost Ways to Personalize a Funeral Service

Funeral trends continue to change as consumers get more creative in how they honor loved ones. With many online options to share content, those ideas spread even more quickly. Personalizing a service helps families find comfort in happy memories of their loved one’s unique characteristics and stories. And when families prearrange their funerals, they can add even more personal details without the time constraint of planning an at-need funeral. Offering your suggestions for customization will help you earn your clients’ satisfaction, referrals and positive reviews. People who attend the services will also take note of the extra care you took to make the experience meaningful.

Explaining options for personalization is an important way for you to put your expertise to work for your client families. As we shared in a previous blog post about communicating the value of your funeral home's services, personalized funeral offerings can “breathe new life into the value of the funeral itself and redefine how service leaders can compete in a crowded market.”

Homesteaders Life Company senior account executive Jamie Dravecky, who brings extensive experience from her previous roles in the funeral service profession, and I offer some low-cost ways to help your funeral home client families plan personal and memorable services.

Incorporate personal stories.

There is no rule for how a funeral or celebration of life service must be conducted, so use that freedom to get deeply personal in honoring the deceased. Ask specific questions and listen to the family, and you will pick up inexpensive ways you can personalize a funeral.

Each detail has the potential to become a part of the funeral service that family members and friends remember for years to come. If they were a Jimmy Buffet fan, for example, put on a mini concert in the form of a playlist. Were they a gardener? Provide decorative stones people can take home to place in their gardens. Were they an avid cook? Hand out recipe cards of their favorite dish.

Dravecky referenced one family whose loved one had a large collection of baseball hats. The family brought the collection in for the service, and each attendee got to take home a hat from the collection. This was a free, but deeply personal way to connect.

“It doesn’t just impact the family but also the visitors coming in the doors,” Dravecky said. “The funeral isn’t just for the deceased, it’s for the families.”

Read this post to discover more personalized funeral service ideas and mementos for a funeral.

Offer digital memorial options.

During the pandemic, funeral homes adapted their offerings when in-person services were not possible. Many expanded their digital services in the form of livestreams or more interactive online memorials. These options continue to bring value for families who use digital channels to connect with each other and remember their loved ones.

Online platforms can also be a source of ideas to share with clients who are looking for budget-friendly ways to include their extended communities in the services. Consider making a private Facebook group to memorialize the loved one. Share memories there ahead of time, and then stream the services through the group.

My own mother passed away this February. Her last profile picture was a list of banned books. This was very representative of who she was, so we made a Facebook graphic that people could share in her honor. We also made the list of books into a bookmark that guests could bring home. This gave us a way to honor her beyond the services – we now drop those bookmarks in free libraries and continue to share the Facebook graphic.

Search online for funeral trends.

It’s important to stay up-to-date on trends in the funeral industry so you can show your expertise to your client families and help them incorporate ideas they too might have seen online or from friends or family. TikTok and Instagram are good places to start as well as following industry thought leaders and listening to podcasts.

One light-hearted TikTok trend last spring was a montage of videos of an individual with an overlayed heartfelt song. The text on the video read: “Making videos of myself so this could be played at my funeral because my husband never films me.” While this is a video in jest, the reminder remains – when a client starts the prearranging process with you, ask them to start compiling videos and pictures in a digital folder that they would like played or made into a memorial video at the time of their funeral.

Similar to the above, you can also ask your preneed clients to start adding songs to a playlist they would like you to share at their funeral. These songs can range from funny to serious, their favorite songs to songs that make a good soundtrack to stories from their life. You can remind your client families that as they prearrange, they hold the power to curate how they wish to be remembered and what they’d like their family and friends to experience at their funeral.

Fill a box with memories.

If a theme or connection to the loved one doesn’t initially stand out, then just give the family an empty storage tote to take home. Ask them to fill it with memories, and then place them around the space to spark conversations around happy memories.

These are just a few of the many ways you can build relationships with client families through thoughtful, attentive services. Personalized services become even more detailed, rich and meaningful when clients have ample time to gather mementos, photos and music. Read this post to gain insight and ideas into how to best communicate the value of preneed with your client families.

If you have been thinking about incorporating preneed into your funeral home services or if you already have a business-boosting preneed program but want to know how to make the most of it, sign up to be among the first to receive our latest edition of Preneed Motivators.


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