A man sitting with his hand on his forehead


Written by Sharon Verbeten


Perhaps you’ve heard this family feud — when the discussion of funeral planning/burial comes up, often one partner wants to be buried, the other cremated. More often, however, the discussion is more animated, perhaps something like this:


Partner 1: “I want to be buried, no doubt about it. And I want a large funeral with music and flowers and a memorial where all my family and friends can come and celebrate.”


Partner 2: “Just cremate me and toss me in the river, the one where I love to fish. And don’t waste any money on a funeral; I’ll be gone anyway.”


No, you haven’t just entered the Twilight Zone; you’ve entered a very real world where many spouses today disagree about final disposition. So, what you are you, as the funeral expert, going to do about it?


One thing you shouldn’t do is ignore the fact that these differences exist — and, too often, these differences are often the reason many couples postpone preplanning. It’s just too personal and, potentially, too argumentative.


Frankly, that’s the situation my husband and I are in. I’m more Partner 1, and he’s decidedly Partner 2 in the scenario above. But that’s mainly because I grew up understanding the value of the funeral to the living. He did not. It’s easy to think of funerals as just a means to disposition if that’s what you’re used to.


To that end, I urge funeral directors to continue to stress the importance of the funeral or memorial. I know, it may continue to sound trite, but until someone comes up with a better phrase, “Funerals are for the living.”


Marketing has never been the funeral profession’s forte; let’s face it, everyone needs our services, but few want to seek them out because they seem dark, morbid, final. Why can’t we as a profession take on a large-scale marketing project to tout what we’re all about? It doesn’t have to be irreverent, but it does need to make an impact.


Some local funeral homes make great strides in their local communities to this end. But I feel the profession collectively can do better. I’d love to hear some of your great marketing slogans or campaigns that funeral directors can use to help change the image of the profession.


Helping promote what the profession does can help educate potential clients — especially those like Partner 1 and Partner 2 — more easily come to terms with their ultimate decisions about final disposition.


Freelance writer/editor Sharon Verbeten has written about the funeral profession — in trade journals and online — for more than 20 years. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


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