9 Ways To WOW Families With Funeral Personalization

We all know that, when it comes to baby boomers and funeral arrangements that your families will remember, personalization is key.

They don’t want the same old service and burial that their grandparents had. Instead, they want something that helps showcase the best moments of their life in a memorable and personalized way.

However, once families walk out of your funeral home’s door after the service is over, what elements of the personalized service do you think they remember the most?

We scoured hundreds of funeral home reviews on Yelp in search of the most memorable elements of a personalized service. Want to find out what they were? Read below:

#1: Creativity

One of the most valuable things that you can offer your families (other than support) is your knowledge and creativity. Therefore, you should try and get creative when planning their service to make it nothing short of memorable. Friends Alternative Funerals & End-Of-Life Celebrations showed one of their families that they were truly experts when it came to celebrating life by creating a unique experience that was unlike any they had ever had before:

“FRIENDS partner duo Ziri and Brenden helped me plan the most important and memorable day of my life to date. We did a very custom, Western-Buddhist Obon themed memorial and party [for my father’s funeral]. Friends helped me from start to finish and got me a GORGEOUS, over 200-year-old shrine to place in my living room to showcase my father’s ashes and decorated it with exotic accents, plants and flowers, pictures, incense, and other trinkets that were appreciated by my father.

In the back yard, they stringed colorful lights, hung large paper lanterns in an assortment of colors, assembled tiki torches and a fire pit in a ceremonial fashion and lined chairs for the speeches. Everyone in attendance wore their brightest attire and came with high spirits.  After the memorial, we had a traditional Obon food ceremony, and some light dancing, heavy laughing and all around good spirits, we migrated the gathering to a nearby beach. When everyone arrived at the beach, a fire pit with a ring of torches encompassing the outer diameter was shining ominously in the dark. We all gathered around and held hands and were lead in an “Ohm” chant by Ziri. The sound of all our voices united was hair raising and lifted our spirits for the next bit.

Previously, back at the house, everyone was given a small piece of rice paper, to which we wrote special messages on that we wished to rise up into heaven with my father. By the time that we made it to the beach, the notes were fashioned into large floating paper lanterns in an assortment of colors that we lit with the encompassing torches and let fill up with hot air. As the lanterns started to take flight one by one, we shouted and hooted, hollered and cheered as every light rose up together in a cluster like a moving constellation, up and up until they were nothing more than stars in the night time sky. It was magical. And as cold as it was on the beach that night, we all left feeling incredibly warm inside. And it wouldn’t have happened without the help of Brenden and ZIri from FRIENDS. Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart!”

#2: Flexibility

When your family can see that you are truly looking out for them, totally unrelated to the revenue opportunity for your funeral home, you will leave a lasting impression. McCormick Mortuary was incredibly flexible for this family and even helped them prepare certain aspects of their loved one’s personalized service that weren’t earning them a dime. Talk about authentic customer service.

“Planning the funeral services for a loved one is a very difficult process. This is why I am so thankful that I came across Alex and Tina at McCormick Mortuary. I wanted to give my dad a final goodbye with the notion that this is a “Celebration of Life” rather than a “funeral” and both Tina and Alex supported my vision. At no point was my family nor I pressured to use their added services (ie- flower arrangements, horse drawn carriage, catering services, etc.). In fact, they went as far as trying to help us save money by suggesting low cost alternatives for the funeral arrangements.

Additionally, I decided to create my own slideshow tribute for my father and they were kind enough to let us use their tech equipment to project the slideshow tribute from my laptop. For a moment there, I feared that they might not let me use their equipment since I didn’t purchase the additional service of having THEM create the slideshow for me, (which cost more) but to my surprise they were absolutely kind and allowed me to go right ahead and use their equipment. I was taken aback by their kindness and company policy.  

Even my uncle said to me, ‘I have never attended such a beautiful and more special funeral service. I have been to many funerals and this is by far, the most special one’.”  

#3: Attention to detail

When it comes to funeral personalization, it’s all about the small details that truly make your funeral home’s services stand out. In this review, the family appreciated the fact that the funeral home helped them make the room truly their own. This shows that Evergreen Washelli Funeral Home is willing to do whatever it takes to offer their families an amazing funeral service. To us, this type of attention to detail goes a long way.

“The staff here was SO helpful, friendly and flexible. They were very affordable (I rented their chapel area and hired their celebrant to do the ceremony). Dale, their celebrant, was uplifting and paid close attention so that our friends and family felt as though he knew my dad. The space is lovely. When we came on the day of the service they moved furniture, hung pictures and signs, and let us set up however felt right. So easy to work with and kind in my time of need. They really let you do whatever you want to have the day you want to have in memory of your loved one.”

#4: The right kind of venue

Just like with weddings, choosing a space that seems special and sacred is important when it comes to celebrating a loved one’s life. Husband Family Funeral Home focuses a lot of their energy into making sure that their venue is uplifting and special for their families. This type of care is something you don’t find everyday, which is why their funeral home has some of the best reviews in their community.

“Roger and his dedicated and caring staff assisted our family in making our Mother’s memorial visitation feel more like a celebration of her life and legacy, not a somber, cold and clinical experience. The upstairs meeting area provided a perfect place for our guests to congregate in honoring our Mother’s life. The visitation/memorial room was very immaculate and had more than ample seating… Husband Family Funeral Home [is] a A+++ business and we will make sure and support them in the future!”

#5: Thoughtfulness

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that you do for someone that make the biggest impact. In this case, the tribute video Zarzycki Manor Chapels surprised their family with was the icing on the cake of their positive experience. It not only helped them heal, but also let their long-distance relatives feel like they could be a part of the service, even if they couldn’t attend them in person.

“We just lost our father a few weeks ago.  We are devastated by the loss of such a wonderful man, husband and father. Our family called Zarzycki Manor Chapels in Chicago to help with all arrangements including visitation. Working with Claudette and Charmaine Zarzycki just made things very easy at the most difficult times. They are very professional, understanding and caring. Their thoughtfulness goes beyond the expected. Claudette created a beautiful video of our father’s life with pictures we provided. We were able to send that to many people who were unable to attend services including family in Poland and France. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you did in honoring of our father.”

#6: Convenient Amenities

A funeral home should not be a place people are afraid to walk into. If you’re in the business of celebrating life, your funeral home should look and smell like somewhere that’s  “homey” so that your families feel comfortable during such a difficult time. And with added bonuses like Starbucks coffee at Anderson-McQueen Funeral Homes… well, you’ll definitely set yourself apart.

“…I have to say that Anderson McQueen FH created a memorial service and funeral for a family friend that was memorable, intimate and very empathetic.

The ushers and directors greet you out front with any programs or handouts from the family. They are very good with being knowledgeable of any questions you might have about the service or the funeral. The place itself is spacious, plenty of room to accommodate a large amount of family and friends. There is a lovely coffee bar there with…Starbucks? Yes, Starbucks coffee. There are also a large variety of tea and a lovely carafe of ice water with lemon. That’s a very nice touch. Another homey touch is the feature of video screens where you can put up photos of your loved one and speakers overhead where you can pipe in their favorite music. There is a children’s play room available for the little ones, where they can stay blissfully ignorant of the weeping adults in the next room…”

In what way is your funeral home working to make funeral services more personal and customized for your families? Do you see yourself implementing any of the services mentioned above? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. Savannah McGowan

    I work at Feldhaus Memorial Chapel is Shelbyville,Tn. When families bring us pictures of their loved ones, we scan them and create. a 13×19 canvas photo of their life events (wedding,military, high school graduation , birth of their children).We also create a hardback book of all of their photos. We have had a great responce from families and it sets us apart from funeral homes in the area.

  2. Brooke

    I once had a friend who celebrated his grandmother's funeral by calling it a celebration of life party – I thought that was an interesting way to have a funeral. I like your article and agree that flexibility and thoughtfulness is important in order to be conscious of everyone's feelings. Everyone handles grief so differently so these tips are very helpful in creating a good environment for planning a funeral.

  3. Julia Gaunt

    I would like to add that if your funeral home has access to a white dove release professional within 50-100 miles, it is a great way for families to personalize a funeral, memorial or celebration of life. The family may participate by choosing a poem, music and opening the baskets. As a professional dove releaser for 10 yrs. now, I have worked hard to inspire funeral directors to tell families that this service is available. Many times I have had families call me after making arrangements with the funeral home who did not inform them. I would like to encourage funeral home directors to please speak up and tell your families about this comforting and symbolic way families can personalize their ceremony. Let’s work together to give families one more way of having a meaningful experience.

  4. Johnny Shi

    What a great idea, having an end of life celebration. I love the creative idea of writing special messages at the celebration. Sometimes the written word can express more of our love. Your post has been really helpful and inspiring, thank you.

  5. Rilee Chastain

    Thanks for your comment, Johnny! We’re so glad these ideas have inspired you 🙂

  6. Sam Fisher

    Even though a funeral can bring about a lot of emotions, generally sad, it is still important to have the family in question feel catered. What I mean is that don’t do the same service for everyone. Like you said in the first point, creativity is one of the better ways to make it more memorable for the family. This way, yourself and the guests will know just how important the person who passed was.

  7. Adam Bockler

    Thanks for your tips about how to personalize a funeral service, Cher. All of my grandparents have passed on. One of the things that I remember most about my maternal grandmother’s service was that there was a slide show of pictures through her life. It helped me remember events and places that I shared with my grandma. Having a slide show can be a great way to remember those that you love.

  8. Franklin White

    Thanks for pointing out how you need the right venue for a funeral too. My grandpa passed away and he loved nature. I think it’d be nice to have his funeral in a place with a lot of natural beauty and it’d be perfect if we could release some doves.

  9. Krystal Penrose

    Hey Franklin, yes that’s a great idea! We love seeing the creativity that comes from a beautiful life lived. This is the way of celebrating those we love!