What Your Families REALLY Think About Funerals (& What You Can Do About It)


It’s no secret that the funeral profession is changing. We see it when speaking with funeral professionals and vendors, and even when speaking directly with families. The people that are walking through your funeral home doors have different feelings towards funerals than the families of 20, 10 and heck… even 5 years ago.

But there is one thing that has kept many funeral professionals feeling confident in the future success of their funeral home, and that is the idea that funerals are a life tradition that will always be needed and necessary. But that may not always be the case…

The number of people who place value on the tradition of funerals is shrinking every year. So to learn more, funeralOne conducted a recent survey to get a pulse on how much value today’s families place on funeral services. We were shocked to see that just around half of the people surveyed (51.9%) described their feelings towards funerals as “an important tradition in life.” The rest said that they felt they were “a rip off and unnecessary” (17.1%), “they’re necessary, but [they] don’t understand the value,” (15.2%), or they “couldn’t care less. Give [them] the cheap option” (15.2%).


So what does this mean for us funeral professionals? It’s time to start putting the value back into funerals, so families can begin viewing them as a necessary tradition again. To get started, we took a deeper dive into how families REALLY feel about the current state of funerals. Here’s what we found out…

1. Friends and families want to feel an emotional connection to their loved one

In order to get to the heart of what today’s families truly want out of a funeral service, we also decided to take a look at their current feelings about today’s traditional service. When we asked them to choose a statement that best reflected their feelings about a recent funeral they attended, we were surprised to find out that only 32.7% of people felt that the last funeral they attended was a great celebration of the loved one’s life. The majority of respondents (43.5%) said that the primary reason they went to the funeral service was simply to support the family.

However, a funeral service shouldn’t just be a meaningful, healing experience for the arranging family. Every single person that walks through your funeral home, from a close friend of the loved one to a distant cousin, should feel emotionally fulfilled by the memories, stories and moments that are shared throughout the service. After all, that is the reason why we hold public funerals in the first place – so friends and family can come together to reflect on a life lived, and feel an emotional connection to someone who meant so much to them.

Make sure that your funeral home offers healing moments and opportunities for everyone involved (not just the arranging family). You can do this by inviting everyone to take part in the service in one way or another. For example, invite people to bring in personal photos and meaningful mementos of their loved one, or offer up a chance for friends and family to share their own personal stories after the eulogy.


2. People want a fresh, celebratory take on the dark and dreary funeral

Another surprising answer that we received when asking people about their last funeral experience was that 18.4% of respondents said that it was a “typical funeral… sad, boring, creepy.” In fact, this was the most popular answer (35.1% of responses) from people between the ages of 18-24.

This is a startling statistic, not only because it goes to show that many funeral homes around the country still have not embraced today’s changing families, but because it also gives an insight into what the future of funerals might look like if we continue in our old ways. After all, the quickest way to kill a tradition is to ignore the reason people are doing it in the first place. In the case of funerals, that’s giving people a chance to celebrate life.

If today’s families walk into your funeral home and they are met with a dark, gloomy experience, they are going to begin to dread the thought of attending another funeral… and they may even opt out of a future service altogether to avoid the same negative experience they had last time. Therefore, be sure that you are providing families with a healing, celebratory event that truly focuses on honoring life, rather than focusing just on the passing. When people leave your funeral home feeling emotionally fulfilled and closer to their loved one than they felt before, they will put meaning back into the tradition of funerals. (And by doing so, they will also invest in the success of your funeral home.)

3. Families are looking for meaningful ways to support their loved ones

As we mentioned earlier, 43.5% of survey respondents said that their reasoning for attending their last funeral was primarily to support the family. This was the one answer of the funeral survey that didn’t surprise us, and that is because we have seen first-hand the importance of support in the healing process.

In today’s changing digital world, the way that families show their support and love in a time of need has grown beyond the funeral home, and today’s families are looking for ways to share stories and support instantly, in a quick, easy way. We see it when families call our Sympathy Store to send gifts and flowers to their loved ones, and when people feel touched by the beautiful Memorial Tribute videos that your funeral home creates for their loved one.

This is why it’s so important to be sure that you’re not only helping the people who enter your funeral home honor the life lived, but also support the many friends and family who are unable to make it to the funeral service. One great way to do this is through f1Connect, which allows you to combine the healing power of sympathy gifts and memorial tribute videos all on a beautiful social memorial page that is hosted on your funeral home’s website. Family and friends from all over the world can log on to share important stories and memories with the immediate family, and they can even send sympathy gifts and make meaningful gestures, such as lighting a memorial candle, to show the family they are thinking about them.

If you want to learn more about how you can use f1Connect to build meaningful connections with today’s changing families, click here. Also be sure let us know what you thought of the results of the funeralOne survey in the comments below!

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  1. Brad Apsey

    I have owned my funeral home since 1979 and the 1st battle I had was with the local clergy, trying to get them to talk more about the deceased and less about religion. Back then I was trying to tailor the funeral service to be more about the person. The reason for this was the number 1 complaint I was getting from my families was that the minister or priest barely mentioned the deceased by name. Some ministers rapped up the service in 10-15 minutes, the people barely sat down and it was over.

    When I would bring up the fact that not enough is being said about the deceased, the ministers response was that I didn’t know the person or the family didn’t tell me anything about him/her. Well, maybe it was because you didn’t show up until 5 minutes before the funeral. I always welcomed the clergy to attend the arrangement conference, so they could ask questions. I would even excuse myself so the family could talk to the minister one on one, and at the end of the conference everybody was on the same page.

    Today, we make the memorial DVD for our families, along with posting it on our Funeralone web sight. We also use the Beryl-Martin memorial products, again using pictures and themes that mean something to the family. Families spend more time putting these items together than they ever did picking out a casket and burial vault. Why, because this is what everybody walks out the door with at the end of the service.

  2. Rilee Chastain

    Brad, thanks for sharing your story! & Thank you for the amazing things that you do for your families.

  3. Delawrence Blue

    Love u

  4. Tyler Newton

    Awesome comment Brad! I completely agree, although my input may be dismal seeing as I have only been in the industry one full year. I have attended funerals my entire life being a member of a large family and church, many funerals have taken place.
    At our funeral home we have seen quite a number of families uninterested in a “traditional” funeral until they attended one of our services. We have a portrait of the family’s loved one made to look like a painting and present it to the family before each service, removing the focus from only the passing of their loved one. Instead now we honor them and celebrate their life. Funerals do not have to be held to these statistics, but we must be able to raise the bar of excellence in lue of opposition.

  5. Gaynor

    Totally agree with all the above, that is why I’ve started my Business above to help individuals the opportunity to explore alternative ideas to the departure of their life.

  6. Graham Burton

    It’s a celebtration of a loved one that you have been asked to look and care for during their time of loss,and you have to take on board what the family request ,and help them from day one .Ask yourself how would you take care of your own loved one and maybe you have all the answers .Funeral services they may be but it’s a celebration of ones life that family’s will remember and not to be forgotten if things are carried out correctly .