How to Create Meaningful Funeral Services for Families on a Budget

Every grieving family needs to walk away from a loved one’s funeral, celebration-of-life, or memorial service knowing he or she has been remembered –and honored –appropriately.

Obviously, not everyone can afford a lavish $10,000 funeral, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a ceremony that celebrates the departed in a memorable and meaningful way.

Today, two funeral directors, Kristan McNames and Caleb Wilde, share their ideas on how funeral directors can create meaningful funeral experiences for families on a budget.

You may remember Kristan from our August 30th post, “Going Above and Beyond with Funeral Aftercare“. Caleb, of Wilde Funeral Home, is a sixth-generation funeral director. He’s also the author of the soon-to-be released book, Confessions of a Funeral Director: How the Business of Death Saved My Life.

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According to both Kristan and Caleb, meaningful funeral services are highly personalized events. In fact, the more personal the funeral service, the more meaningful it is for everyone involved. And personalization doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

“Funeral service personalization has nothing to do with the amount of money a family spends,” said Kristan. “It’s more about what I call ‘thoughtful creativity’. This is when the funeral director takes the time to get to know the deceased, through in-depth conversations with those who loved him or her. When I get that kind of help from a family, I can come to love the deceased, too; to appreciate their contributions and marvel at their achievements. It’s this love that drives the personalization process.”

Caleb agrees: love is the force behind all meaningful funerals. “I think that the true funeral professionals are the ones that love the deceased the most,” shared Caleb. “What is going to determine the intensity of the emotion felt is the family–those individuals who knew and loved the deceased the best. It’s their stories, their willingness to share; to revisit the details of their loved one’s life, which enable us to create a meaningful service.”

As a way of better personalizing a funeral service, Kristan became a Certified Celebrant in the fall of 2012, studying with Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury, of In-Sight Books. “As a celebrant I’m a ‘story hog’ – I listen, take notes, and then compose a framework on which to insert these personal contributions.”

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According to Kristan, a memorable, meaningful funeral service, memorial service or celebration-of-life “isn’t ever ‘off the cuff’”. Instead, it’s a “well-thought out staging of an individual’s life, using the voices of those who can shine a light on a moment in the life of the deceased and help us all to know him or her that much better.”

Being the celebrant officiating the service gives her better control over what can be a chaotic situation. “Sometimes everyone wants to stand up and say something,” she said. “And things can get out of control quickly. Having a framework, where speakers are inserted at appropriate times; helps to keep things moving in the anticipated direction.

Point-of-Sale Financing Can Help with Funeral Service Personalization Expenses

When a family is on a budget, getting creative with funeral service personalization can be challenging, but not impossible. Author, educator and grief counselor Alan Wolfelt, Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition advocates incorporating all five senses into a service: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Considering every detail of the service from this ‘sensory perspective’ will jumpstart your personalization efforts.

“A funeral service, memorial service or celebration of life isn’t meaningful because of the amount of money spent,” reiterated Kristan. “It’s meaningful when bereaved family and friends are given opportunities to share stories and also participate in other ways.”

But what can you do when a family wants more than they can afford? Offering them a funeral financing program can help funeral directors to make their loved one’s service everything it should be.

Read “How Point-of-Sale Financing Helps Funeral Directors” to learn more about why you should add point-of-sale financing to your funeral service funding options. If you’re ready to see for yourself how LendingUSA can make a difference for the families you serve, sign up today for a free personal demonstration.

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