Resources for Grieving Families

Every day we speak with families dealing with loss. Often, they ask us if we have any suggestions on grief support resources available online. Here are three resources we’ve found valuable:

The Dougy Center – The national center for grieving children and families, founded in 1982.

GriefShare.org – A resource for locating the nearest GriefShare group in your community. Groups meet on a regular basis, and act as a support network for their members.

HealthfulChat – A network of positive chat-rooms, focusing on bereavement, grief and loss. For people looking to cope with grief in an anonymous, online outlet.

Our thoughts are with all grieving people, and we wish them well through the healing process.

–The Foreverence Team

Meaningful Remembrances For a Wonderful Life.

Type ‘cremation urns’ into a Google search and this is what you will find hundreds of nearly idential options. But look out across the faces and people with whom we interact throughout our life, no sameness.  Variety and personality abound.  We are fortunate to live in an amazingly diverse, constantly evolving world.

 

No doubt our lives are one of a kind.  We have unique genes, were born in a unique place and time, lived a unique childhood, chose where to study or work, had unique interests and thoughts, added personal touches to our living space and wardrobe, and pursued passions in our own way.  Doesn’t it seem odd then, at the time of our or a loved one’s cremation, for the outward symbol of our individual life wonderfully lived to be a run-of-the-mill vase, urn, or box, just like everyone else?

 

It’s understandable to see how this happened.  Thousands of years ago, material availability and artisan know-how made a pottery or stone receptacle logical.  As times evolved wood and metal receptacles entered the scene.  Fast forward to the 21st century and…oh…wait a minute.  Why is the selection still so limited despite such an advanced array of technology and material options?

 

I would posit the reason is the classic ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.  Customers don’t realize there are other more meaningful and personal options available.  Again, it’s understandable.  At the time of need, we rely on others to help us navigate these unfamiliar waters.  A funeral professional, for example, is an often utilized resource for many traditional end of life services.  However, as they assist us through the process, it may feel exactly like that.  A process.  A checklist with items to be completed.  So where in that process is the opportunity to reflect on and create a meaningful and lasting remembrance for that wonderful life?
Our customers have expressed that traditional options introduced are only ‘good enough’ and not truly representative of their loved one.  Thankfully, they’ve found Foreverence and now have a completely customized, individually designed urn or keepsake…the Perfect Urn.

-Patty Saari
General Manager
Foreverence

Paradigm Shift: a new approach to urn sales.

Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which a customer goes to a car dealer to purchase a new vehicle. Without asking any further questions, the car salesman walks them over to a collection of the cheapest models on the lot and tells them they can have any of these models in any of the three colors he has available. The customer doesn’t like any of the cars, but reluctantly chooses a boxy sedan in a shade of green that they don’t totally hate. They drive home in their new car unsatisfied.

Sounds ridiculous, right? No one makes a car-buying decision like that. They research the options. They look for a car model that fits their personality. They pick the automobile that is the right new car for how they live their life. Yes, the decision is sometimes based on budget, but just as often it is based on image and options. Savvy car dealerships know this. They work hard to appeal to the variety of impulses that spur a major buying decision.

So, when it comes to cremation, why don’t funeral homes?  Funeral directors, in spite of all their sincere desire to serve, are doing themselves and their families a disservice by only making a limited amount of generally low-priced urn options available.

Funeral professionals are smart people. Why would they make such a poor business choice? I think it is because directors have been conditioned to think of families choosing cremation as entirely price-sensitive shoppers. Yes, many of them are. But there is a growing segment of the market making cremation choices not because it’s the low-cost alternative, but because it’s the practical and pragmatic choice for them. Price sometimes factors in, but is outweighed by the desire for a meaningful representation of legacy and personalization.

There is a gap in the market today when it comes to serving high value cremation customers. Funeral Directors are afraid to introduce personal, high-value products. With a few qualifying questions, they could easily determine what price and product category is right for a family. What was important and meaningful to the deceased? What is a fondest memory for the loved one who will keep the urn? What type of setting will the urn will be displayed in? A focus on legacy and personalization will help drive engagement to a high -value product. It shows the family that the funeral director is concerned about capturing the essence of the deceased. 

Now back to my imaginary car buying scenario. The bottom line is just about any car will get someone from point A to point B, and transportation, of course, is the primary utility and value of a car. But most people don’t just want any car. They want a car that best represents their personality and style. Not everyone buys a boxy, economical sedan. Some people want something with a more powerful engine and smoother lines.

Think Outside The Box… AND The Vase.

How did we arrive at the universal conclusion that families wish to remember their loved ones by keeping their cremated remains in a rectangular box or a Grecian-inspired vase? I mean, from the standpoint it needs to be a geometry that can hold volume, I get it. But why only a box and a vase? Why not a pyramid  or a dodecagon? (That’s a 12-sided shape for those of you keeping score at home.)

Having just returned from the ICCFA show in San Antonio, I have an observation to relay. The funeral service industry should expect and demand more from manufacturers advertising a “custom” product. They should demand more because customers are expecting more.

I walked the floor at the convention and, as you might imagine, there was no shortage of urn manufacturers. They were everywhere. And to a man and woman, everyone was calling their product “custom”. Yet virtually all of them were some iteration of a vase or a box. Sure you can get an urn in blue or green. Or you can get it with a floral pattern or a baseball on it. But is that really the limit of custom?

Put yourself in the shoes of a family who is going through the experience of agreeing on a meaningful resting place for their deceased beloved. How do these questions sound? Did the deceased like blue or green better? What was their favorite floral pattern? Script font or san seriph?

What if the questions sounded more like this: What was the most important and meaningful representation of this person’s life? What were his or her hobbies, passions and pursuits? How would they like to be remembered and how would we like to remember them?

What if, instead of trying to find the closest option from a group of imperfect choices, you could create the perfect one?

That sounds like a much better option to me.

 

-Pete Saari
Founder and CEO, Foreverence

Creating the Perfect Urn Amid a Sea of Sameness.

Barry Schwartz’s book, “The Paradox of Choice,” explored how humans react when given varying levels of choice.  Schwartz found that most people prefer to have options from which to choose, but that there is a point at which too many choices paralyze an individual, hindering their ability to make  a decision.  Since his book’s release, marketers have had a field day trying to figure out what is the right balance for their particular product or service.

The funeral service industry is not immune to this quandary.  Most customers describe their experience of choosing an urn in one of two ways: walking into a somber room at a funeral home where a small selection of urns is displayed or visiting an impersonal, commoditized ecommerce website with thousands of urns available at discount prices and for quick delivery.  Neither option is a good one.  In my opinion,  the idea of memorializing a legacy is quickly lost. Replaced, instead, by compromising thoughts of a better deal and a speedy turnaround. Thankfully, there is a better way.

The digital age has given rise to the expectation that almost anything is possible.  If you can imagine it, it can be manufactured, ordered online and delivered to your doorstep almost instantaneously.  It’s easy to create our own, unique style. We can choose the color of our cell phone cases, we can pick what interior upholstery we want in our cars, we can customize the paint in our houses to match our favorite pair of socks. The western world is defined by individuality. Most of those personal decisions seem easy. However, some are not.

For instance, how does one envision, design and create a physical object to represent an entire lifetime of personality, style, pastimes, and accomplishments?

This is the challenge that we find immensely rewarding at Foreverence.  We relish the opportunity to help families, friends or an individual planning one’s end of life details with the emotional yet uplifting and rewarding process of finding the perfect tribute to a life well-lived.  And with the introduction of 3D printing capabilities, there is now a manufacturing technology that supports full color, highly durable and beautiful urns and memorials that are truly one of a kind.

So how do you start when there’s literally a ‘blank canvas’ staring back at you?

Our process is quite simple.  We ask questions.  We listen.  We synthesize.  Understanding a few key elements such as where or if the urn will be displayed, meaningful phrases or personal mantras, and iconic photographs or images allow our designers the opportunity to create an initial concept that we call a Legacyboard®.  This serves as a starting point and visual depiction of concepts for consideration.

What we’ve heard from our customers is that these interactions and this process, where we assist families to Envision, Design and Create the perfect tribute, is a pivotal moment for them in dealing with the emotions of losing a loved one.  They can successfully move from being paralyzed by the many pressing choices inherent in the end of life process to finding relief, comfort and even joy having created the perfect tribute.

 

Patty Saari
General Manager
Foreverence

Is Everything Okay?

This is a revised version of a blog post written by Pete Saari, our CEO, in 2013:

As much as I would like to be a foodie, I’ve never been recognized for my refined palate. My dining take-aways tend to be very experiential. In other words, I rarely leave restaurants thinking, “Wow, that was the best steak I’ve ever had.” More often, I leave thinking it was too warm in there, too loud in there, the seats were too close or I wasn’t totally digging how the waitress called me honey.

I was recently dining with a group of friends at what probably wasn’t a 5-star restaurant but, by pricing standards, certainly a 4-star. They had separate food and wine menus—that’s classy.

In the middle of our main course, the waiter stopped by our table to see how we were doing. He waited until he had our attention then asked, “Is everything okay?”

The wording struck me. That’s because I thought okay was a pretty low standard to set for how our dining experience was going. Would he have been satisfied if I had replied, “Meh, it’s okay?” Did he know that my standard for okay generally means no one spills anything on me and I don’t get Salmonella? To me, that’s okay. But this restaurant seemed like it should be doing better than okay. I wondered if in their pre-dinner huddle, the restaurant manager told his staff to get out there and be average? I could hear it play in my head, “Let’s make sure everyone has an ordinary dining experience with us tonight.”

 

The restaurant manager and owner probably wouldn’t want their customers to be okay, but rather they’d want them to be thrilled. What if instead of asking “Is everything okay,” the question was, “Is this the best freakin’ dining experience you’ve ever had and if not, what can I do to make it that way?”

The line between an okay and an exceptional experience can be rather small. In my case, it was drawn from the use, or misuse, of one word.

What kind of a parallel can we draw to the funeral industry? As a funeral professional, what kind of an impression are you making on the families who arrive at your door? Is it just okay? Or is it representing the caliber of service you’d expect for your own family? If you’re a supplier to the funeral industry, are you providing products that are just okay? Or are you constantly innovating, taking risks and working to ensure that the funeral industry is transforming with the changing needs of the population. In today’s competitive economy, okay just doesn’t cut it. Businesses that are thriving offer an experience that surpasses that of average.

So as you look at your own business, ask yourself, “Is everything okay?”

 If it is, it’s probably time to change.

 

–Pete Saari
CEO, Foreverence

Frequently Asked Questions About Foreverence

In an effort to help potential customers get easy answers to common questions about Foreverence, I asked our CEO Pete Saari to spend a couple of minutes in front of the camera. He even put on a tie. Check it out below.

As always, we’re here to help families going through a difficult time find a way to memorialize a loved one in the most unique way possible. Please reach out to us if you have additional questions this video doesn’t answer. I personally get all e-mails sent to customercare@foreverence.com, and I’ll make sure to respond promptly.

 

 

–Grant Dawson
Director of Communication
Foreverence