What Makes a Great Funeral Service? Here’s What Hundreds of Client Families Said

It’s no secret that the landscape of funeral service is changing.

And, so are the needs of our client families.

But what path are all these changes leading us to? What defines a GREAT funeral service now, in 2018?

To find the answers, we surveyed a few hundred consumers. The research wasn’t surprising, yet it was quite groundbreaking…See for yourself the top 4 insights we found, and what to make of them:


#1: Funerals are not yet inspiring the masses

When we asked survey participants whether or not they’ve attended an inspiring funeral service, we were shocked to find that more than two-thirds of them had not. What does this mean? This doesn’t necessarily put all the blame on funeral director. In fact, many people are still choosing to have very traditional or religious services.

But, we can’t help but wonder… if we started educating families on a mass scale about the options they have, could we redefine the way people view funerals? The research we found below points to the answers…


#2: The unique story is the most inspiring part of a funeral

Out of the 32% of survey participants who have attended an inspiring funeral service, we wanted to find out what elements of the funeral service was the most inspiring. We were equally surprised by the answers.

Although we offered up the typical elements of a funeral as options, nearly 80% of participants felt none of these traditional elements were what made a funeral service truly inspiring (see below).

Instead, they offered up personalized answers such as:

“A video of [loved one] saying goodbye to all of us”

“True friends showed up and shared the good, the bad and the ugly!”

“Personalized. Added funny stories about the loved one.”

“Optimistic as an example to lead a good, interesting life.”

“The small stories – not the significant things we all knew.”

“The celebration of a life, not a somber fear of death.”

You might notice a trend here. The most inspiring elements of a service had little to do with the physical elements present. Instead, the most inspiring elements are a mixed theme of vulnerability, authenticity, story and connection. This leads us to believe that funeral service, as a whole, should be embracing the story, and not products. Remember, funeral service is a SERVICE, not a product.


#3: There is an opportunity to redefine the service aspect of funerals

Embracing the findings above, we wanted to go deeper. So we asked participants to tell us how they’d like funeral professionals to take part in the process of planning a funeral. Nearly half of the participants said they’d like the funeral director to simply help with the necessary logistics. But the other half collectively agreed that they want funeral directors to help them tell a unique story, in a unique way, truly celebrating the life lived, rather than just mourning it.

This dichotomy helped us see an opportunity for funeral directors. What if the conversation about planning a funeral was redefined? A conversation where the necessary logistics were covered, and then the real planning started; the celebration, the story, and the unique options available to share it.


#4: Telling your story and celebrating life is very important to people

Numbers don’t lie. More than two-thirds of people believe that sharing their story at their funeral service is important, or very important, to them (see below).

So why aren’t people telling their loved one’s story, then? Why is there such a disconnect between the desire to share a story, and the number of personalized and inspiring funerals in the world today?

Our findings below helped us find some clarity on the issue. Many families feel that if funerals were less expensive and easier to plan, they’d feel much more inspired to take part in the planning of their funeral. A further 18% said they’d be more likely to take part in their funeral planning if the funeral director and platform to plan was more inspiring.


What does this mean for the future of funerals?

From this research, we can feel a clear message forming. The message? People want to share their stories.  And, they want your help. But, they’re looking for a less expensive, easier, and more inspiring platform to do so.

Yet, the funeral profession we know is heavily reliant on expensive merchandise, such as caskets and urns, to stay profitable. It’s very clear that this business model has become outdated. But how do we make such a drastic change, without losing  a lot along the way? How do we transition more into service, while maintaining integrity and profit?

These are some of the most interesting questions to ask right now. And we believe that the more we start asking them as a collective, and answering them too, the closer we will get to the future of funerals.


What do you think about the research we found above? Do you have any questions or answers to contribute to the conversation? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. Barry Slocombe

    An excellent article and message that all Funeral Directors and Celebrants should read.

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  4. Rilee Chastain

    Thanks Barry!