Encourage the Use of Online Memorials Such as Remember My Journey
Getting to know the family will help gauge when the time will be right to begin documenting memories about their loved one’s life. Some people will wait while others use the journaling as a means to navigate their journey.You can teach families how to document their loved one’s life through their Remember My Journey online memorial page. Remember My Journey builds a timeline of memories, photos, videos and more, allowing family and friends to contribute to the memory of their loved ones. Writing can be extremely cathartic during the grieving process, though families may vary in how much time they need before they are ready for this step. Although reflection can be sad, it can also evoke so many warm and rich memories as they recount all the wonderful ways the person impacted their life.
Starting a memorial page may seem overwhelming. You might encourage the family to start by sharing their favorite memory. Or you can suggest they focus on a broader topic, such as memories related to Christmas or another favorite holiday. Perhaps they’d like to start by writing about what their loved one was known for – like being an exceptional cook or an accomplished fisherman.
Walk the family through all the features of Remember My Journey and show them how to update the page. Once you have introduced them to this feature, you can follow up with them in a few weeks and reference something that you learned about their loved one. If the page hasn’t been updated yet, be sure to check in to make sure they don’t have any questions or need technical help.
Some cemeteries invite families to bring photographs to the office to be scanned. Set a time limit for scanning – like 20 minutes – and then offer a quick in-person tutorial on how to upload pictures to Remember My Journey and add written memories. You can provide the scanned photos on a flash drive that has the cemetery’s logo, which ensures the family will think of you every time they look at the photos. This simple kindness can also lead to further business as others who see the Remember My Journey page may be impressed by your cemetery’s offerings.
Staying connected to families doesn’t need to require a lot of money or effort.
Host Remembrance Events
A great way to interact with many families is to invite them to remembrance events at your cemetery. While accommodating large groups can seem overwhelming, don’t let overthinking leave you paralyzed. Though there are logistics to be considered–like parking–don’t let details stop you from holding an event that can be extremely meaningful for the families in your care.
If you are new to hosting events, start simple. You could pick a day and designate a meeting place for anyone who’s lost someone over the past year. Set up a tent for shelter from cold or inclement weather and provide warm beverages and sealed snacks. Invite local choral groups to sing and musicians to play music. Find someone to read appropriate stories or poetry. Your Remembrance Day could stretch over several hours, so families can come and go on their own schedule, which also eliminates some of the parking burden. Events like this give people a chance to meet others who are experiencing similar feelings and know they aren’t alone.
Once you’re ready to get a little more involved, you might add a craft element. One cemetery invited families to make bird feeders from pine cones, peanut butter, and bird seed. The feeders were hung in trees near their loved ones’ graves. Another cemetery with a pond provided supplies for families to build floating memorials. These events allow people to come together months or even years after the service to honor their loved one by doing an activity together, which can be extremely meaningful. To create richer events, take photos of each family’s creation and share them afterwards. One cemetery even created custom holiday cards for each family using those photos.
A well organized remembrance event feels like a hug. As people entrust their loved ones to our care, we can reciprocate by providing a meaningful event. I often hear about budget constraints that inhibit providing memorial events. These events do not need to be elaborate. The simpler, the better. A small memorial keepsake, like an ornament, is an excellent use of a marketing budget. These events build good faith and encourage deeper relationships. Don’t be afraid that too many people will come, or no one at all. If you host a meaningful event and send thoughtful invitations, the people who need it most will attend.
Focus on Service Will Set You Apart
Staying connected to families doesn’t need to require a lot of money or effort. Simple touchpoints can be extremely effective. In today’s world, good service is increasingly hard to find. No one is used to getting anything for free. Be the exception rather than the rule! If you genuinely care for your families you serve, show them! While a timely phone call or simple card costs little in time or money, it builds enduring loyalty that will ripple out to others in their lives. Approach aftercare as a philanthropic endeavor and follow up sales will come as a by-product. With proper aftercare, everyone benefits.