January 25, 2021
Cemeteries have always been a place for families to gather and honor their lost loved ones while supporting each other in the grieving and remembrance process. But with funerals on the rise in the United States, more and more families are staying away from these hallowed grounds. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, more than half of all Americans who died in 2020 opted for cremation. The group also predicts that by the year 2040, that number will balloon to nearly 80 percent, seemingly making cemeteries all but obsolete. From the cost of burial to wanting to honor someone through spreading their ashes in a specific location, there are many reasons why cremation is becoming more popular among families. This has caused some cemeteries to revisit their finances and prioritize their necessary items, such as cemetery insurance and groundskeeping.
Although these issues and more are affecting cemeteries, cemetery operations have the opportunity to continue to be places that have a hand in well-being by providing spaces for comfort and hope.
Here are how cemeteries can improve the customer experience today.
Keep Comfort King
Signage and visuals are a significant opportunity for cemeteries to make people feel welcome. Yes, there should be regular signs up, such as prohibiting smoking or pets, for instance; but there should also be signage posted that encourages support and healing. Cemetery operations can foster comfort in individuals visiting the cemetery, including spiritual quotes, words of encouragement, and pleasant visuals. This can help to bring a level of comfort to those on cemetery grounds, letting them know that you are there to support their loss in small ways.
Encourage Ongoing Connection & Visits
It’s natural to look at a cemetery as a place of closure for families. But cemeteries can also be a place for families to return to visit the site of someone they love and hold dear. The funeral should be the beginning, not the end of remembrance for loved ones, and cemeteries can help foster that feeling. Instead of promoting cemeteries as the end of the road, they should be places where the road continues through engaging opportunities like providing special ceremonies families can engage in to remember the lost.
Cemeteries are naturally reflective for people. They often visit cemeteries to reflect on their memories with the individual buried there. But what if cemeteries could further enhance visitors’ reflection with informational resources that prompt reflection, such as pamphlets, online video discussions, and, when COVID restrictions end, in-person talks from grief counselors to help families cope moving forward.
Another great way to encourage reflection is to provide journals to visitors, helping them write down their thoughts and feelings. This shows that a cemetery is more than just a resting place, but a remembrance place and somewhere where visitors can feel supported to share their thoughts.
In the end, it all comes down to encouraging people to stay engaged and remember their loved ones instead of feeling like a cemetery is final. When cemeteries become more meaningful in what they offer to their patrons, visitors will want to come back to reflect. Offering interactive opportunities and resources makes cemeteries more meaningful and purposeful for the road ahead.
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