Why Funeral Homes Need Aftercare and Grief Services

By Ann Heinz, JD, CDEI
May 21, 2020
why funeral homes need aftercare and grief services

The funeral industry has seen major changes over the last two decades. As with most industries, the advent of new technology has altered many aspects of deathcare. However, there is one feature of funeral services that will remain consistent: compassionate care. The families funeral homes serve are experiencing grief and are often lost and in need of direction.

Only a small percentage of funeral homes provide funeral aftercare or grief services. Funeral directors always have a list of local grief support or counseling services to whom they can direct grieving families, but relatively few funeral homes offer these services themselves. This is a lost opportunity to help the families you serve and further build your business.

Why Funeral Homes Should Offer Funeral Aftercare Services

Successful funeral homes understand funeral and burial services are not the end for their clients. Many grieving families need ongoing support afterward. This is the most important reason for funeral homes to offer aftercare services. By providing grief counseling and other compassionate care services, your business can make it easier for grieving families to receive the help they need.

Funeral home businesses can expand the relationships they have with their clients far beyond the few days of planning the funeral and burial. Aside from providing a needed service for grieving families, funeral aftercare services are a way to grow your business, gain referrals by maintaining relationships with your clients, and meet potential future clients.

By providing these services during a critical time, your business will show your commitment to the wellbeing of your clients. This commitment can help build brand loyalty with the families you serve — and perhaps the larger community. Aftercare programs like grief support groups can help bring people from the community to your business year-round.

But importantly, compassionate care and funeral aftercare programs will differentiate your business from your competitors.

How to Offer Effective Funeral Aftercare Services

There are a host of things funeral homes can offer —  and new technology has made it easier than ever for funeral homes to offer grief support and other aftercare resources. Some aftercare services a funeral home can provide include:

  • Have an online grief support guide. Having a grief support guide available on your funeral home’s website is an important first-step resource you can offer to the families you serve. An effective grief support guide should be as comprehensive as possible and address every stage of the grief process and offer proven coping mechanisms.
  • Have a grief support library. Having supportive books on hand is a great way to have families return to your business for support. When they borrow or return a book, it allows you to touch base with them and see how they’re doing. Even if your library is small in the beginning, many families will still appreciate it being an available resource.
  • Offer online memorial websites. Allowing your clients to personalize an online memorial for their loved one is a service you can offer even before the funeral. Many families find creating online memorials to be very comforting, and online memorial pages can even have social features that allow family members and friends of the deceased to share their own thoughts and memories.
  • Host grief support groups and workshops. Everyone grieves in different ways, but many families will appreciate having convenient access to a grief support group where they can work through their feelings and honor their loved ones in a safe space. If you are not able to host these yourself, make sure you have the information for local grief support groups to provide to families and make available on your website.
  • Participate in the community. For example, your business could ask people to volunteer to bring flowers to graves at a local cemetery, or to take flags or flowers to the graves of veterans on Veterans’ Day.

Don’t Let Aftercare Be an Afterthought

There are countless other ways your funeral business can offer compassionate care and aftercare resources to families and the community. Some of these are simple resources and others may require more of an investment or out-of-the-box thinking. Whatever services you offer, make sure it fills your clients’ needs during this difficult time in their lives.

If the employees at your funeral home business need training on how to help your clients cope with grief, WebCE offers Managing Grief: A Guide for the Funeral Professional as part of our funeral continuing education. This course reviews the stages of grief, identifies simple coping mechanisms for clients, and explains the different types of loss and grief as well as the new normal life for grieving families. The course also examines compassion fatigue, a condition that can arise when drained funeral professionals feel like they simply cannot give any more.

WebCE also offers many other funeral CE courses for funeral directors, cremationists, and embalmers. To register for Funeral CE courses with WebCE, visit the catalog below or call our customer service representatives at 877-488-9308.

Funeral CE Catalog