Changing the Cremation Paradigm: Getting Cemeteries Back in the Game

If there’s one trend that has surpassed all others in the death care industry, it’s cremation. This should come as to no shock to you, as a reported 48.5% of families are choosing cremation these days.

But what are families doing with their cremated remains?

According to Chris Keller, Vice President of Albuquerque-based French Funerals-Cremations & Sunset Memorial Park, cemeteries are being cut out of the equation. Keller spoke on the topic at the ICCFA 2018 Annual Convention & Expo at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where he shared some information that might make many cemetery owners sit up in their seats.

According to Keller, 1 in 5 Americans have human cremated remains in their home and have not chosen a final resting place for their loved ones. And in Albuquerque alone, it’s estimated that at least 10,000 people have loved ones’ remains at home only because they don’t know what else to do with them.

The solution? Finding a way to develop compelling cremation options. Keller offered four insightful ideas to help get cemeteries back in the game…

#1: Make it interactive

Families are looking for something interactive and experiential. “It’s ideal to find more creative ways to engage families at the cemetery,” Keller said.

How can you do this? Keep it new and fresh is by using color, light and personalization. You could create interactive chalkboards and panels to get families touching and feeling the space, making it a much more memorable experience.

#2: Make it easy

French Funeral’s business increased by nearly 200 percent when they began giving every cremation family a certificate for a free resting place for families’ cremated remains.

Chris told the Albuquerque Journal about their two options: “The Kiva area contains an ossuary, where ashes are dropped through a portal into a large underground vault in which the bottom has been removed, allowing the ashes to slowly return to the earth. Bricks lining the floor of the kiva will be etched with the names of the deceased.”

“The Rose Garden is layered with travertine rocks, onto which cremains are scattered and absorbed into the ground. The names of the deceased are etched on a nearby travertine memorial wall,” he added.

#3: Make it personal

Yes, cremation is less expensive than a cemetery burial. However, you lose that personal experience that a cemetery offers. Keller recommends to make cremation options about more than just cost and disposal. He recommends finding a way to make your cremation services unique, offering ways for families to feel connected with their loved ones after their passing.

#4: Make it engaging

On August 27, 2017, French Funerals launched Scatter Day at Sunset Memorial Park, a one-day affair for people to come together to spread the ashes of their loved ones. On top of scattering ashes, families can have the name of their family member or friend engraved in stone. “More than 400 families have a connection to Scatter Day,” he said.  Because of its success, Scatter Day will be a yearly event and will return on August 25, 2018.


How has your funeral business been able to increase the value of your cemetery services?  Tell us in the comments below!

To learn more about Chris Keller and French Funerals, check out French Funerals’ website here.

Rochelle Rietow


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