5 Ancient Funeral Traditions The Funeral Profession Needs To Let Go Of

funeral traditions

We’re hard-pressed to think of a profession so deeply rooted in tradition and age-old customs as funeral service. Don’t get me wrong… no one’s denying the power and pomp of tradition, and there are many traditional customs that we carry forth today because they have inherent and undeniable value.

But when it comes to setting yourself apart in the funeral profession, bucking tradition is sometimes necessary.

Every profession has its own cutting edge trends, with new unique ideas and modern norms bubbling up to the top each passing year. (Yes, even in the funeral service realm!) And if you want to stay relevant to your families and competitive with your competition, it’s not so much a factor of if you will embrace these trends, but when.

To get you started on the path towards a much-needed change, here are a few tips on how your funeral home can take the future firmly in its hands and become revolutionary… while leaving behind those outdated funeral trends that, frankly, have overstayed their welcome.

1. Thinking That There’s One “Right Way” To Grieve

There is a huge generational divide in the way that people express their grief. Some people (typically older generations who did not grow up with “share-every-detail” mindset of social media) believe that it’s important to keep personal or important matters close to home. They wouldn’t dare invite the public in to share their personal life – especially their grieving process. However, the internet-generation (and this generation is growing larger and larger by the day) sees nothing wrong with sharing life experience with friends, family and even potential strangers via the magic of the internet.

In fact, as we know now, talking about your grief publicly can be an incredibly valuable exercise, and smartly utilizing social media can be extremely beneficial to the grief and healing process for families who have recently lost a loved one.

Sharing memories, stories and pictures online through social memorial pages, and disseminating service information via the internet is a step in the right direction, regardless of what Great Aunt Joanne might think. It’s not about a refusal for privacy, but rather about openly asking for support when it’s most needed and inviting friends and family to join us in celebrating the lives of our loved ones. Bringing elements of a funeral service (or even unflinching outpourings of grief and love) to the web spaces we already conduct so much of our lives on is just way way of extending the reach of support and community during difficult times. Plus, having your website be the destination for these social memorial pages gives your families a dedicated place they can always come back to to honor their loved one.

2. Sticking to Outdated Marketing Methods

There are some things that remain consistent over the years because they simply withstand the test of time: peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, Monday Night Football. But old-fashioned, behind-the-times marketing methods don’t make that list. The entire landscape of advertising has changed completely and funeral home directors—just like the heads of businesses in virtually every other industry—must be able to adapt in order to continue reaching and serving families.

People no longer rely on newspaper ads and commercials on local programming channels to identify the services and providers they will use. People get their news on the web or via social media, and subscribe to streaming services so they don’t even have to see commercials. They ask friends, colleagues, and anonymous reviewers on the internet for recommendations when seeking businesses to meet their needs, so that’s where you need to be as well. From Facebook advertising and viral campaigns to simply having an online presence you control, such as an educational website that teaches families about the value of your services… these methods of marketing are much more successful, cost-efficient and relatable to future families.

3. Relying solely on “Free Advertising” from Previous Families

While it is true that word-of-mouth recommendations can still drive great business to your firm, you don’t want to rely only on this method of free advertising. We hope that doing a job well done or pleasing the families we serve will be enough to encourage them to recommend our services to the people around them, but that’s only half the battle. Think of it this way… If you had a plumber who did a really fantastic job fixing that big leak in your kitchen, you might keep that business in mind when a similar situation happens to a friend or colleague. But what are the chances you have the plumber’s phone number memorized, or remember any specifics other than his or her name?

When people receive service recommendations, they’ll typically use that as a jumping-off point for their own research, so you need to be searchable. Most folks nowadays will head straight for Google, and you don’t want them to search the name of your firm and come up empty. Sure, having Google Business Page or a Facebook Page is great… but those alone won’t sell families on your services. You need to have a full-service, easy-to-navigate website for your funeral home that not only teaches your families about your products and services, but gets ahead of the questions they might have and hits their pain-points dead on. This kind of educational website will help you convert your families before they even walk through your door, and will help establish your firm as the go-to resource in town for everything funerals.  

To learn about how you can easily design and launch a funeral website that educates and connects with families, contact one of our funeral success specialists today.

4. Foregoing Modern Trends in Funeral Services

Some funeral traditions are older than we can really comprehend, and they aren’t all necessarily outdated… but just because something has been done a certain way for decades doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valuable to hold onto. A more open and social society, like the one we live in now, doesn’t mind when emotions or personal experiences occur publicly. As for how that affects the funeral profession, people are more open to sharing their grief, talking about services they attended, or even planning their own funerals.

The key to embracing the social mindset and remaining the go-to resource in your community is to stay open-minded about new trends and service ideas. Think about it… maybe the first time you ever heard of a webcasted funeral service, you balked. How weird and awkward did that sound…at first!

But the truth is, nearly everything that has become the norm was at once new, different, awkward or strange. So when it comes to honoring a family’s unique request, you don’t want to reject a suggestion that could be incredibly meaningful for their loved one’s funeral service, or send a message that you are not receptive to their’ out-of-the-box ideas. Whether you’re still struggling to adapt your services to serve requests of cremation, funeral personalization, nondenominational memorials or anything else, you are potentially losing out on families by not being open to new and different methods of life celebration and healing.

5. Believing in a “Right Way” to Honor a Life Lived

On a related note, if you’re still harboring an idea that there is a “right way” to conduct a funeral service, you should also be preparing for obsolescence. While there will always remain room in the industry for somber, traditional or standard funeral services, when it comes to grief, there is no one way. When it comes to celebrating a life lived, there is no one way. When it comes to honoring what was special about someone’s life, there is no one way. Make sure you remain open to every suggestion, request, or idea and don’t be afraid to stray from tradition. Think about every inventor in history: surely they were all thought to be mad before they proved to be brilliant!

f1Connect is your ultimate resource for embracing new traditions and airing out the old ones. Visit our website today to learn about the many solutions we offer to help you meet today’s families’ digital, forward-thinking needs.

Rochelle Rietow


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  1. Lynne Johnson

    Oh my. There is RESPECT and then there is an off-handed lack of dignity and respect that the younger generation needs to hang on to. This hurts me to the core of my soul to think for one minute that you would consider tivializing the death of a loved one in such a thoughtless and uncaring way. Shame on you. And, if you are Funeral One people, I’ll be sure to make note of this and tell my friends the same. God help you.

  2. Rilee Chastain

    Lynne, we’re sorry to hear that you did not enjoy our latest post. The topic of moving away from tradition and embracing new funeral trends is always a debated one in this profession, but it’s something we feel is important to write about. However, we so appreciate your feedback.