6 Things Your Families Are Dying To Tell You (But Never Will)

families-tell-you
Recently, I came across a rant on Facebook where a good friend of mine was complaining about the lack of care he experienced at funeral service he attended.

The sad part is, I see posts like these on a monthly, if not weekly basis.

The one thing that I find hard to understand here is why these people aren’t telling the funeral homes about their bad experience, not their friends and family. This situation led me to believe that there’s a general communication disconnect between funeral homes and the people in their community.

Here are six examples I came across where people described their wants and needs from a funeral home (or director). Read them through, and afterwards, tell us in the comments what you’re going to do to start sparking conversations with your community to find out what it is they truly want from your funeral home:

#1: They want their loved ones to be honored authentically

In his contribution to the great controversy of remembrance, Lajos Szabo shares a Facebook status his friend posted about his father’s death a few years back, and it still sticks with me today:

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In his post, he states that “when we do not authentically represent the life lived, we often do a disservice to the people  closest to the deceased who knew him or her best.” And I for one agree completely. By authentically remembering the loved one, you can inspire the funeral guests and family to start their journey of healing. In fact, one woman described her inspiring experience at a funeral for someone she had never met before when she says: “I recently went to the funeral home for a friend’s father [whom] I had never met and was so moved by his grandchildren and their tributes to him! I wished that I actually would’ve had a chance to meet him!”

Read more: A Lesson on Remembrance: Are We Authentically Celebrating the Life Lived?


#2: They want to play a huge part in their loved one’s service

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In the Facebook status above, one man describes the awful experience his wife had at her grandmother’s funeral service. Apparently, the pastor wouldn’t let this woman say anything about her grandmother during the service. Instead, he continued to talk about things that were not related to her grandmother. And according to the comments below this man’s status, this is not a rare occurrence. In fact, many people left comments describing a similar experience. The general ruling? Let the family remember the loved one – not a stranger.

Read more: The Ugly Truth: Baby Boomers’ Thoughts on Funeral Service


#3: They want to keep their loved one’s legacy alive online

“I think it’s important for you to share memories on Facebook, by mail with family, or wherever. People will appreciate it. We posted all the written tributes my sister received, during the ceremony and after, and everyone in her life really enjoyed reading them.”

  • This shouldn’t be news to you – ever since Facebook became the largest social network in the world, people have been using it as an outlet to remember, grieve and heal. They want to look back on their loved one’s Facebook profile, look at memories, stories, photos and videos people post about their loved one, and most of all, they want to take part in the conversations about their loved one. But they need your help.


Instead of the family using several outlets to mourn their loved one online, why not step in and help them create one, single platform for the family and community? With solutions like Social Memorial Websites, you can print out the entire conversation that takes place for the family, so they can actually keep it forever. Talk about keeping the legacy alive.

Read more: The REAL Value of Social Memorial Websites

#4: They are ready to talk about (and plan) their end-of-life wishes

In the past, death wasn’t something you talked about at the kitchen table. But with the Baby Boomer generation, that idea changed completely. In fact, a recent study showed that 82% of people say it’s important to put their end-of-life wishes in writing. Even more, statistics show that almost 70% of adults would pre-plan their funeral service, if given the option. While you might think encouraging your community to talk about their own mortality is a touchy subject, it’s still an important subject, and one people are willing to explore.

Read more: The Ugly Truth Part 2: What Baby Boomers ACTUALLY Want From Funeral Service


#5: They want to see real-life examples of how you can help them celebrate life

“All I ask is that you present me all of the options that I have. Not as a sales person, but as a guide who’s there to help me choose what’s best for my needs, not your pocket. I promise if you help me in a meaningful way, I’ll recommend you to my friends and family.”

Funerals are one of the few topics in life that many people are woefully unaware about. Most people don’t even know how amazing a funeral service can be, so they opt for the “traditional” service, or whatever they think is “normal”. And that, my friends, is where the root of the problem is for most families regarding their discontent for the average funeral service. It’s all about educating families, you know that. So why not educate them on how amazing a funeral service can actually be? In the world of HGTV and The Biggest Loser, people want to see transformations before their eyes. Show them your biggest and best life celebrations on your website, on the TVs in your funeral home, and through testimonials and case studies you create. By showing your families these examples, you’re inspiring them to create a meaningful funeral service for their loved one. And isn’t that what we’re all here to do?

Read more: What Funeral Service is Really Selling: A Lesson from HGTV

#6: They want to be treated like your most important customer

“When a group of real people were asked how they would rate their overall experience at the last funeral service they attended, 64% said their experience was less than favorable. Out of that 64%, a whopping 30% said their experience was “horrible” or “bad.”

This one should be obvious, but it’s one of the most overlooked aspects of funeral service. It’s easy to become de-sensitized by the idea of death. After all, every family you serve just lost a loved one. But it’s important to put yourself in your families’ shoes. How would you feel if you lost a loved one, called a funeral home, and had someone ask to put you on hold or blow you off? Even worse, what if you walked into a funeral home and watched as the funeral director didn’t even blink an eye when you told them about the death of your loved one? Your families want to know that they’re important to you, and it’s your job to make them feel that way. Think about that with everything you do, and you’re half way there.

Read more: What Can Your Funeral Home Learn From Disney?


If you never ask…

No one likes the confrontation of telling someone how you really feel about them. And if you don’t ask, you’ll never find out. I found these things your families are dying to tell you just by doing an hour’s worth of research on social media websites and Reddit, and I’m sure if I spent more time researching, I’d find even more. But you know what’s even better than researching? Asking. Ask through surveys, testimonials, heck – even social media. Just remember, if you never ask, you’ll never know what your families truly want.


How do you get feedback from your families? Tell us in the comments below!

Joe Joachim

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  1. Tim S. Howell

    I would like to speak directly to Pet Peeve in #1. Many, many times the “lionization” or “demonization” of an individual, comes not from the funeral director or staff, but from the clergy, officiating person, eulogist or even other family members. Only once in my 30 years have I heard a pastor condemn the deceased to hell, but more often than not, most are “preached into Heaven” , at no fault/credit to the funeral director. An inept newspaper employee, a shoddy florist, a lazy gravedigger or a doctor that can’t read a death certificate to know where to sign his own name are the bane of many a funeral director nationwide and in each instance, the funeral director/staff receive the blame for these mishaps and without a word we smile and make it right with each family. Guess that’s #7 of things Your Funeral Director is Dying to Tell You, But Won’t.