By Rilee Chastain at FuneralOne
The winter holidays are a magical time of year. Families and friends gather to celebrate with each other and ring in the new year. It’s a time for joy, hope and remembrance. When we see our children’s eyes light up on Christmas morning or we gather with friends on December 31st to reflect on the past year, everything just feels right.
However, you also know that same glimmer can diminish quickly after the death of a close friend or family member. While the holidays are a time to rejoice, they can also be difficult for those whose loved ones are no longer here. As a funeral director, you made a special connection with your families when you helped them with their funeral memorialization and arrangements. You listened patiently, let the family talk about their loved one and supported whatever decisions they made. Unlike other company’s business transactions, the bond you have with your families is personal and not likely to be broken.
You can keep that relationship strong each year around the holidays by taking a few moments to honor their loved ones. Besides showing that you truly care, it is also a marketing strategy almost guaranteeing repeat service or, at the least, a recommendation. As part of the aftercare services, you can reach out during the holidays and show your families you are thinking of them with these remembrance ideas. A little gesture can go a long way when it comes to grief and healing.
1. Send a holiday card
You can send your clients a simple holiday greeting card with a small note acknowledging that, although their loved ones aren’t here this year, their memory lives on. This is one of those holiday memorials that doesn’t have to be elaborate, nor does it have to be a long letter. This type of gesture will warm their hearts and lighten their holiday mood.
Tip: If you aren’t sure how your families celebrate the holidays, then send a basic generic holiday greeting card that is light in tone and nature.
2. Hold a candlelight ceremony
Many funeral homes, cemeteries, specialty hospitals and hospices often hold remembrance services around the holidays for surviving family members and friends. Music is played, readings are held, holiday memorials are displayed, and a special Christmas or holiday tree is decorated. This is especially common on National Children’s Memorial Day, held every year on the second Sunday in December. Candles are lit in each loved one’s memory and grief support is given to all who attend.
Tip: You may want to coordinate activities with local cemeteries or hospitals depending on the number you are expecting. This will allow everyone to come together in one place. This is a good idea to do in a small town where there is a smaller number of funerals each year.
3. Put up an honor tree
You can create an Christmas tree of honor or a tree of life in the lobby of your funeral home and have each loved one’s name on a “leaf.” You can a send a short note or even an email to the family asking them to stop by and see it during the holiday season.
Tip: For out-of-town clients, you can take a picture of the tree, as well as their loved one’s leaf, and send it to them. Taking that extra step shows your commitment to your customers and your business.
4. Set up a memorial or charity run
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