10 Questions to Ask Families That Turn An Average Funeral Service Into A Unique Celebration

As a funeral professional, you want to offer amazing value, right?

If you’re like most funeral pros we meet and chat with everyday, that answer is probably a capital YES!

And at the heart of amazing service, is usually a unique life celebration. No matter how extravagant or simple, our research over the years has shown us how much value uniqueness brings to the table.

The TRUE difference between a unique celebration, and a painfully average one, is often the questions you ask. If you ask better questions in your planning process, you’ll start getting better answers. And when you have better answers, you’ll be able to better serve your families.

We’ve decided to round up 10 questions that we recommend adding to your normal service planning questions. These are questions that are proven to work – not just in funeral service, but in other industries as well. So give them a read, and see how they work out for you!


Question #1:  Can you bring in photos of your loved one, and a couple of things that remind you of them?

To start the funeral planning process, get the family involved from the get-go. Ask them to bring photos and items that remind them of the loved one. Perhaps even the loved one’s favorite things. This will not only help the planning process, but also the healing and remembering process.


Question #2: Tell me a little about what you (or your loved one) thinks about funerals in general.

This is a great question to start with early on because it gets families thinking about their opinions on funerals in general. Do they value the service, or do they think it’s unnecessary? Do they have an interest in planning a funeral, but think they’re a rip off? This question gives the family a little time to open up on the topic of funerals and it gives you an opportunity to open up conversation based on their assumptions.


Question #3: Can each of you tell us about the loved one?

The most important question of all. Ask each family member to speak about the loved one. You can get them go deeper by asking:

  • What did they love the most?
  • What’s your favorite memory of them?
  • What impact did they make in the world?
  • What music did they love?
  • What was the funniest thing you did with the loved one?


These are questions you’re likely already asking your families. And this is where those typical getting-to-know-the-loved-one  questions will go.


Question #4: Describe the last funeral service you’ve attended.

Hopefully, they’ll naturally tell you what they did or didn’t like about the service. Or, you might sense what they did or didn’t like by the tone of their voice. If they don’t easily describe what they do and don’t like, or you don’t get a lot from them in general, it’s good to dive deeper and ask…


Question #5: What did you like MOST about the last funeral service you attended?

Or, you could ask what about the last funeral service they attended felt the most memorable. If the family keeps their answer short, ask them about specific details like the music, the eulogy, the tribute video, the funeral home, the funeral director, etc.


Question #6: What did you like LEAST about the last funeral service you attended?

This question is just as important as the last one. This will help you create a space for your client family to re-define an element of a service if they didn’t like it. For example, if they didn’t like that the funeral music was very drab, perhaps you could help them choose more inspiring music that fits their needs more.


Question #7: What is the one thing you’re aware of that funeral homes don’t do that you wish they would?

The standard customer service questions inquiring about how to improve service are often met with pat answers, “Everything’s fine.” This does not give you insight and may lead to the false sense that your business is safe. By digging for actual examples of delight and frustration you can better determine the real standards you are being measured against and then you can develop a strategy to meet those.

Question #8: Do you see any challenges when it comes to planning a service?

This question helps address any potential objections that might come up along the way. By asking this question before any potential objections come forth, you’re showing families how proactive you are when it comes to their satisfaction.


[PAUSE… and offer a reflection]

This is a really great time to offer a reflection to your client family about the kind of service they offer. Take a moment or two and offer a reflection or a summary of what they said when they answered the above questions. Clarify with them that your reflection is correct, so that you can move on to the next questions with lots of clarity.


Question #9: How can we work best together?

This is a really next-level question that’s going to make your value shine through in your conversation. Ask your families questions like…

  • How involved would they like to be during the process?
  • What would they like to DIY (do-it-yourself)?
  • Who will be the point of contact throughout the planning?
  • Would they like suggestions and feedback along the way?


Treat the funeral service like a playwright. Everyone has roles. It is a production of sorts. And, there is a storyline at the center of it all.


Question #10: Are you happy with how this is feeling so far?

Near the end of the meeting, ask your families about how they’re feeling with everything so far. Ask them to tell you what sensations they feel in their body. What thoughts are coming up? Give them a moment to get honest with you, and let you know how you can support them best. This is such an important question that often gets overlooked. Don’t forget this one!

PS. Want to feel supported as you step into the realm of offering unique services? Grab a 30-day free trial of our Life Tribues All-In-One Personalization Software by clicking here.


What questions have allowed you to step up in the level of service you provide families? Tell us in the comments below!

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  3. Tim

    It needs too be more realistic.

  4. Jan

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  5. Rae

    I agree with Tim. This dialogue isn’t a realistic conversation to have with a family.

  6. Krystal Penrose

    Hi Rae, do you have any other suggestions on how these questions could be adapted for your families?