How Having “The Talk of a Lifetime” is Taking Funeral Planning to the Next Level

For the founders of The Talk of a Lifetime (TTL), it was becoming more and more evident that people were just not that into funerals anymore.

The TTL council wanted to tap into this growing demographic  – the “I don’t want anyone to make a fuss when I die” group of people, who obviously could not see the value in memorialization.

So, they did some serious market research. They assembled focus groups made up of people who said they did not want to be memorialized after death.

The research behind why people don’t value memorialization

They started by asking these people to produce images they associated with funeral homes. Time and time again, the respondents showed the researchers pictures of dark, dreary, and downright creepy stuff!

Next, they asked the participants to show them pictures of things that represented what an ideal memorialization would be like. This time, the imagery was cheerful and joyous: bubbly champagne, balloons, celebrations.

This research was eye-opening, and revealed some key points:

  • It’s not that people don’t want to be memorialized. It’s that they want to be memorialized in a way that feels right to them.
  • Almost everyone wants to feel as if their life or their loved one’s life was meaningful and important.
  • A lot of people have really negative associations with funeral services, seeing them as somber, stifling (and even scary) affairs.


This research is meant to serve as an encouragement to start changing the mentality and the approach taken with families. In other words, it’s time to talk to families about funerals in a different way.

Instead of a memorial service being a final stop after a loss, why can’t it be a first step toward healing? Can’t funeral homes do something more to give families what they really need, and focus on what matters most to people when they lose a loved one?


Introducing: The Talk of a Lifetime Cards

The TTL council wanted to figure out a tangible way for funeral homes to better support families and create more meaningful services for their loved ones. So, they created the Talk of a Lifetime Cards.

If you haven’t heard about the The Talk of a Lifetime (TTL) cards yet, you’re not alone. That’s why Michael Watkins of the Park Lawn Corporation and Theresa Wiederspahn of Swan Law Funeral Directors dedicated their NFDA Expo talk to the cards. To get the word out about them.

TTL Cards: So, What Are They?

The TTL Cards are simply decks of cards containing conversation-starting questions. They can be imprinted with the logo of your business, and feature questions that prompt people to open up about what’s really important to them.

Also – bonus – it’s a great way to generate some buzz around your funeral business.


The How and the Why Behind TTL

Behind the creation of TTL is the Funeral and Memorial Information Council.

Using the cards, staff could pose more meaningful questions to families while planning a service. Questions like, “if you were to picture your dad right now, what would he be doing?”

Only, they’re not just for funeral home staff. The cards provide a way for families to learn more about each other. They create a great bonding opportunity, a way to get to know each other on a deeper level. Which is something we could all use.

Do you know what your grandma’s favorite band was when she was growing up or what your dad’s perfect day would be like? These are the kinds of questions the cards invite families to ask each other. Questions that prompt people to learn more about their unique family story while they still can, and give people the tools to create a totally unique and amazing memorial service. So in a nutshell, the TTL cards can help break the ice when talking about pre-arrangement.


Getting the Word Out About TTL

The cards are super cool and helpful… except nobody knew about them. Mike and Theresa shared how they connected with groups, organizations, and facilities in their communities to find fun ways to encourage “The Talk,” distribute the cards, and reach out to people.

With this intention, they organized events at hospices, assisted living facilities, counseling centers, conventions, expos and local VFW locations. Guess what happened next? People from those events came to the council and wanted more cards to share with their patients, clients, families, and friends.

The cards had encouraged so many people to talk, share, and learn more about one another – and to really think about how they’d like to be remembered. Plus, they got the name of their businesses out there in a positive, helpful way.


Putting the TTL cards to use at your funeral home

The cards can be of great value for anyone, but particularly those people who work in the care and funeral fields. Nurses, counselors, social workers, clergy members, and – of course – funeral directors can use them to create powerful and useful conversations with the people they care for.

This is just one small way funeral directors and others in the funeral industry can push beyond the boundaries of the stereotypical funeral home and connect to the families they serve in a more meaningful and sustainable way.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Talk of a Lifetime cards, or want to order a deck of your own, check their website out.

We have no agenda in sharing these cards with you… we just find them valuable. And believe they have a shot at changing the conversations had with families… to change the way we look at planning a meaningful celebration of life.


Have you ever used the TTL cards? Tell us about your experiences below!

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