Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

“…I do not care what happens to this boy. It is simply an empty house. And I do not need a grave for my family to visit and pay homage. My mother was buried in 1982. I have not been to her grave 5 times. She knew I loved her. And Mother’s day I talk to her. I tell her I appreciate all she did for me. I will see her again when I get home (heaven).”

This was a recent comment on a funeral industry blog from a consumer commenting about his feelings towards funeral planning.  How many would agree with these statements and over all viewpoint?  As a matter of fact, it seems that statistics back this statement up with a very large spike in cremation, non religious services and what is foreseen to be a consistent move in the popularity of something unique with the next generations to come.  Why is this?  Why are more families leaning towards an alternative to traditional funeral service?  Could it perhaps be something that the funeral industry has done to move people away from the “norm” or could it be the consumers themselves simply wanting something different?

While visiting Florida a few months back, I found what could be the answer to these questions while wandering the halls of the hotel looking for a cup of coffee.  I couldn’t help but notice a large number of staff setting up for what appeared to be an incredible party.  There was a stage for a band, tables with beautiful linens and gorgeous center pieces being placed on them, two bars at each end of the room and long tables along the walls with easels nearby.  When I asked one of the staff what they had going on later that day, they stated that they had a “bereavement event” planned for that evening.  A bereavement event?  In questioning further, I learned that they were setting up for what an undertaker would refer to as a “memorial service” but this was to a level of professional staging that no funeral home could ever achieve….or could they?

The concept of “Bereavement Events” is breaking the mold cast by the majority of traditional undertakers.  Rather than walking into a floral smelling, low lit, dark carpeted, somber room filled with sad people, consumers are now wanting something uplifting, happy and most importantly, celebratory as they honor a life lived.  Since this is not the majority of offerings within funeral homes today, people are seeking outside vendors to provide them this means of celebration.  Fortunately, some contemporary undertakers are opening their eyes to this concept and are now offering similar tribute events to suit your needs.  These unique “Tribute Centers” (as I refer to them) are something relatively new to the funeral industry.  After much research and development, they have learned from the “Bereavement event” that outside vendors offer and in turn now providing a much more relaxed atmosphere in which events for families and friends can be hosted.  For example, where are most of us comfortable standing when visiting a friend’s home?  The kitchen, right?  These modern day “Tribute Centers” offer a kitchen feel to the office in which you meet the undertaker.  No more round table in a dark room surrounded by urns and caskets.  Nope, consumers now find themselves in a room that has a Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma feel, with coffee, appetizers, and even a high top table to provide the feel of home.   In addition, these modernized facilities have a plasma TV around nearly every corner and state of the art technology piping audio and visual media throughout the building.  These facilities have revolutionized funeral service into an opportunity for friends and family to enter a comforting atmosphere to share in a life lived. In other words, a small portion of modern day undertakers have gone against the grain in order to suit the needs of today’s consumer.

So what does this mean for you and me, the modern consumer??? When it comes to purchasing a funeral or cremation for a loved one, we need to look at it in an entirely different way.  Often times this means that the focus would shift away from the means of disposition (ie. burial or cremation) and now towards what’s really important – honoring a life lived. Today many undertakers are still trying to get consumers to buy that casket, hold a visitation and even have a traditional funeral ceremony that was the norm when their granddaddys ran the business.  In reality, there is a large portion of the population that want something different, and today contemporary firms are starting to appear in our market place to offer just that.  More and more families are selecting cremation or unique celebrations, and therefore desire the flexibility and creativity which accompanies these tributes in order to have that special celebration. If you are one of those consumers who wants something different than what you’ve seen in the past, for either cremation or burial, fortunately you are in luck, a small portion of today’s undertakers are hearing you.  Seek out one of these contemporary firms and learn how a “funeral service” of the past, can be transformed into a “Remembrance Tribute” of today!

-Ryan R. Helfenbein

Want to hear more from Ryan- Go to Ryan Helfenbein is a licensed funeral director, certified pre-planning counselor and partner in his family’s businesses Fellows, Helfenbein & Newnam Funeral Home, P.A., FHN Insurance Co., Inc. and Lasting Tributes by Fellows, Helfenbein & Newnam Cremation and Funeral Care, P.A. As supervising mortician of Lasting Tributes, Ryan is dedicated to simplifying the funeral buying process while offering top quality service with affordable pricing for the Anne Arundel county residents. He believes that consumers should not have to pay high costs in order to receive the very best in funeral service today.