When a family chooses direct cremation, they often do so out of economic considerations or by request of the deceased (“Y’all don’t make a fuss over me”). Performing a meaningful service to mourn the loss of their loved one is no longer an opportunity for the funeral home. Or is it?
When working for a funeral home, you are expected to give your client families the utmost respect and care. Whether you are a funeral director, embalmer, assistant, or an administrative staffer, it is up to you to make sure your families have a fitting final impression of your facility and staff.
When the cremated remains are ready and the family is notified that their loved one is available for them to receive, you then have an occasion to serve them one last time before they leave your building. Here are a few ideas you can use to make your final moments with a family, memorable ones:
1. Setting – The right setting is an important factor in how your family will respond. Choose a stateroom or another private area of the funeral home that is nicely decorated and mood appropriate.
Don’t hesitate to use candles, soft lighting, and music to set the tone for your family’s visit. You should also take a moment to give the family an idea of what they are about to see before guiding them into the room. This prevents them from being emotionally unprepared to see their loved one’s urn in such a ceremonial setting.
2. Focus on Service – Make paperwork an afterthought. If you rush the family into signing any “necessary paperwork”, you may as well have handed them the urn in the break room.
Ask them if they would like to spend some time with their loved one. If they decline, you can ask if they have any questions they may not have thought of before now. Often times, seeing the urn with their family member inside sparks questions about what the next steps might be.
3. Escort – After the family has taken the time they need, offer them assistance to their vehicle. These are typically the last moments you spend with your family, so make them meaningful.
Treating the urn as their loved one as opposed to a vessel is a respectful detail that can make a difference. A passenger seat and the use of a seat-belt is not uncommon when a family is bringing their loved one’s cremated remains home.
Everyone deserves a dignified farewell. The next time you serve a family that chooses direct cremation, make their experience at your funeral home an exceptional one.
Written by: Matthew Morian
Matt is a licensed funeral director & embalmer in the State of Texas and is a founding member of Millennial Directors. He is also a contributor to Texas Director Magazine.