5 Lessons On Personalized Funerals via Real-Life Client Testimonials

A funeral service should leave a lifelong impression upon the families you connect with.

The key is having that impression be a positive one. 

Looking at a funeral home’s testimonials, you’ll start to notice the funeral homes that are truly glowing all have something in common…

What is the special sauce? It’s the funeral directors who took the time to connect with and really get to know the family AND the dearly departed they are serving. 

Personalized funeral services and connections make all the difference, really. Especially when you are working against the harsh misconceptions people already have about the funeral profession. 

We’ve gathered some reviews from REAL families that offer a lot of insight into what truly matters to them in their time of need, including what you can learn from them:

1. Deep listening goes a long way

“What a great staff and wonderful people. They took care of my grandma today and really listened to what she was like. Her favorite things to do was play cards, especially euchre, and they even had a card table set up with the best euchre winning hand for her. It made us giggle and really turned it into a celebration of life instead of a sad affair. I will never forget what they did for our family.”

This review for Schoedinger Funeral Home in Columbus, Ohio demonstrates how even just one personal touch changes everything for a family. They transformed grief into joy by celebrating what made the families appreciate THEIR Grandma, not just anyone. This brought the family together in comfort and joy. 


2. Every unique detail has the opportunity to deeply heal

“My brother’s funeral was full of tears, but more importantly lots of laughter as well. Pray’s Funeral Home was amazing and Joey Pray’s accoutrements were outstanding. The room was filled with MSU things, a putting green to honor his golf passion, a pool table, a slot machine, even a cool puppet as we couldn’t find his. The best part though was that they went to the local bowling alley and brought in 10 pins, a ball and some shoes. When the service was over, my brother Kyle bowled a strike. Can’t say I’ve ever been to a funeral that ended in applause! Great send off to one of the sweetest, kindest, most life loving person I know.”

What we can learn from them: We weren’t surprised to read this shining review for Pray Funeral Home in Charlotte, Michigan who specializes in amazingly unique and personalized services. Talk about a celebration! It’s important to remember how big of an impact it makes to go above and beyond in creating a celebration centered around the passions of the deceased, highlighting all that made their life special and uniquely theirs. 


3. Personal connection creates trust and lasting relationships

“Thank you O’Connor Mortuary for facilitating the beautiful funeral for my grandmother. You went above and beyond to make everything happen as it did! From contacting the church to make all the arrangements; to referring the perfect florist.  Lily Fiore Floral Boutique was a huge part in making this day perfect for my family. We loved all of the arrangements they made for us. The owner, Michelle, was hands on in creating a beautiful day for us. I have to say we have now made long term relationships with the florist and have called upon them for many events since then! Again thank you O’Connor’s for sharing your trusted partners and facilitating a lovely funeral! You truly partnered with us and made this day one we will never forget!”

What we can learn from them: This heartfelt testimonial for O’Connor Mortuary in Laguna Hills, California shows the power of building community connection as a funeral director. Not only was she impressed by the funeral home itself, but she also made a lasting connection with the florist they recommended. She now has a sense of trust and personal connection with the funeral director and the florist– and that really shows she will have a lasting relationship with both of them.

This is also a great reminder to support local businesses rather than box flower retailers! We’re a big fan of creating community this way, that’s why we encourage using local florists in your Sympathy Store.

PRO TIP: Don’t have a Sympathy Store yet?  Click here to talk to one of our funeral success specialists to learn more about how our Sympathy Store plugin can work for your funeral home and give the gift of support to your families.


4. Being “all business” is bad for business

“Please do not use this place! I really did not enjoy speaking with them because they continuously bad mouthed and blamed the other funeral home we had been working with. I thought this was really inappropriate and unprofessional. Not once did the other funeral talk badly about them. Instead of building a relationship with their customers, they were too busy complaining about their competition.”

What we can learn from them: The most telling part of this review is when the reviewer says, “Instead of building a relationship with their customers…”. This shows that the family members were looking for a personal connection, yet instead were met with unprofessional behavior centered around a funeral director trying to make their business look good by bad mouthing others. 

Numerous other reviews from this same funeral home also referenced how they felt the staff members were more like used car salesmen than funeral directors. Ouch! The oldest slight in the book. People want a heart to heart connection, not a sales pitch.


5. Cultural sensitivity and knowledge really sets you apart

“Our family is traditional Chinese when it comes to funerals – we had tons of specific requests for Jeff, and he patiently put up with all of them. We requested the casket be lined with individual origami sized paper which means he had to lay each one out individually, it was done beautifully. We really do appreciate all he did for us.”

What we can learn from them: This testimonial for Elemental Cremation & Burial in Seattle, Washington is a great example of how tuning into particular traditions and needs can offer so much comfort to grieving families. You don’t even have to know all the traditions. Just be present with families and honor their requests as best you can. Let them know you want them to have everything they need to lay their loved one to rest with respect and care. 


6. Creating community creates a magical spark 

“My comment is about Crystal, she is a treasure to keep and to get to know. She makes everyone aware of every celebration of passing in all the cultures whose followers are interred within the Columbarium and has gone above and beyond all our expectations in maintaining our mother-in-law’s niche. She makes the Columbarium a special place for us.”

What we can learn from them: The San Francisco Columbarium & Funeral Home in San Francisco, California is a very unique place to begin with. This review shows how their personal touch can deeply impact those they serve. They focus on creating a community for those who will be forever interred in their columbarium, and honoring all the unique cultures and traditions (just like the funeral home above) is a major part of that experience for families who choose to celebrate life here. 


7. Compassion and empathy matter most

“These people are very fake and two-sided. They seemed nice off the bat, but during the reception for my cousin’s service I overheard two of the staff of this funeral home speaking ill of my late cousin. I was absolutely appalled. If you want a funeral home that will take care of your loved one until they are in their final resting place, DON’T GO HERE!” 

What we can learn from them: This is a nightmare review for any funeral home. For a family to feel so disrespected and treated with insincerity is unacceptable. The staff members that contributed to this experience weren’t acting with the compassion and discretion that is required in this profession. It’s truly a rare to be able to step out of a place of judgment when it comes to your work in the funeral profession, and we celebrate all who do.


8. Simply taking away the stress for families is a HUGE service

“I will forever be grateful for all that Dan and his staff did to make the experience less stressful than it could have been. Dan was so sincere and humble as we asked questions, shared parts of our father’s life story, asked more questions and finally came to our decisions for our father’s burial and the unique detail in which we requested and Dan obliged. I would recommend Holman’s to anyone that is looking for a funeral home with professional and compassionate staff to walk you through the sometimes awkward and uncomfortable experience of planning a funeral.”

What we can learn from them: You get the sense of how calm and straight forward the experience was for this family at Holman’s Funeral Service in Portland, Oregon. It doesn’t always have to be over the top to be personal. Asking questions about the deceased with genuine sincerity helps build intimacy that allows for services to be more personal and detailed. That in it of itself is a HUGE service to your families and community.


Putting it all together

As you can see from the reviews above, families can often be overwhelmed by funeral planning. And as the reviews also showed us, a calm, compassionate, curious, and empathetic funeral director can offer families so much guidance and comfort when making arrangements. This connection is what helps you to create totally unique and personalized memorial experiences for families. These will not only help them to always remember their loved one, but also to remember the special services you helped them create.

What are some of the most unique services you’ve created for families? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

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