Now that you know the important cornerstones of funeral service, it’s time to take a look at the actual service elements, or what Jason Troyer, Ph.D. calls “components”.

While the 6 Cornerstones in Part 1 of this post were numbered, they were not listed in any sort of order of importance.

What IS important is that each cornerstone is addressed, according to the unique circumstances of each deceased and their family. Each service that your funeral care business offers should serve to support one or more of the essential cornerstones of funeral care.

While all six cornerstones are essential to your funeral care business, not all components will be necessary for every funeral service.

Instead, design your services around the components that will best serve the specific family, using the cornerstones of service that they value the most.

Funeral components also do not have to be presented in the same way from family to family. Components can be implemented in as traditional or non-traditional a way as needed, and as elaborate or simple as the family requests.

It’s up to you as the funeral care professional, to facilitate the components in a way that will provide the most meaning, support, and value to your families.

According to Troyer, the service components funeral homes offer will typically fall within five major categories:

  1. Private Family Time

Private farewells and personal reflections where private moments can be shared by the family, and to gather family together for mutual support.

  1. Visitations for Family and Friends

Open or public visitations offer opportunities for both family and members of the community or friends of the deceased to come together to offer condolences and support.

  1. A Ceremony to Honor Life

This is typically a way for families to honor their loved one through storytelling and media, while getting comfort and support from family and friends.

  1. A Place for Final Disposition

Permanent sacred spaces such as burial or cremation spaces, can provide a great comfort to families and loved ones.

  1. A Gathering and Reception

Receptions offer shared time with family and friends, with a time to relax and remember together with food and refreshments.

So how do you know which component or components will provide the most meaning and value for the families you are serving?

The answer of course, is to ask them – but to do it in a way that opens the door for a more meaningful discussion of options.

Remember, your families typically do not know all of the options that are available to them.  Asking a dead-end question like “Would you like to have a service?” sets you up for an all-or-nothing answer.

Generally, if you ask a series of more specific, manageable questions, you can get a better idea for what is really important to your families. This will also be useful in case everything the family initially “wants”, is too expensive or falls outside of their budget, as it will give you a better sense of what areas might be appropriate to “cut back” on or to offer a less expensive option, without compromising the entire funeral experience.

For example, the following questions each address a small part of the funeral services range of options and give you multiple opportunities for a “yes” answer – without taking anything away from traditional families who want the full slate:

  • “Would you like a private viewing?”
  • “Would you like a visitation?”
  • “Would you like a ceremony?”
  • “Would you like a final disposition service?”
  • “Would you like a reception?”
  • “Would you like cremation or burial?”

Asking questions like the above will help you identify which funeral service cornerstones are most important to your families, and which service components will best fulfill those needs.

Oftentimes the terms you will use will be unfamiliar to your families, or they may not understand what is typically included in a particular component. As the professional, you will be able to walk them through the components of a meaningful service, and if necessary outline the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

This will give them a more complete picture of what options are available to them, enable them to make better choices and decisions, and ultimately give them a better overall funeral experience – which will reflect positively upon you and your reputation in the community – which is what will fuel your continued growth as a business.

Source: Rilee Chastain – The 6 Cornerstones of Funeral Service That Guide Everything


Jamie Allar
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