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Invitation to Innovation

Funeral homes are constantly looking for innovative ways to provide exceptional services and meet the evolving needs of their clients. Recently, the Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) had its inaugural “Invitation to Innovation” workshop to explore new approaches to caring for cremation clients. Led by Andrew Loos from Heartland Cremation & Burial Society, participants engaged in ideation exercises to generate implementable ideas. The event sparked creativity and highlighted the importance of viewing cremation services through the eyes of customers. Let's dive into some of the exciting ideas that emerged from this workshop.

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Is CHATGPT for me?

As technology continues to shape the world, businesses across various industries are incorporating it into their operations to improve services and remain competitive. Funeral homes are no exception to this trend and can also harness the power of technology to enhance client interactions and services. One such technology is ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence program that is designed to understand and generate human-like language. The best news is that ChatGPT is FREE! 

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Did Joan Rivers Knock 'em Dead In Her Final Act?

Joan RiversYou’ve probably heard about the over-the-top funeral that comedienne Joan Rivers described as her ideal funeral in her 2012 book, I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me. She wrote:

I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action … I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing ‘Mr. Lonely.’ I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyonce’s.

And she wasn’t kidding. So how did her real service on Sept. 7 at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side of New York City stack up against her fantasy funeral?

Pretty well, actually. One attendee told USA Today, “It was like a Broadway show with tons of humor, lots of tears, and ended with a standing ovation.” The celebrity guest list included Howard Stern, who gave the eulogy, Donald Trump, Sarah Jessica Parker, Whoopi Goldberg and Diane Sawyer, to name just a few. Hugh Jackman, Audra McDonald and the New York City Gay Men’s Choir sang during the service. At its conclusion, bagpipers burst out of the temple playing songs for hundreds of fans who yearned to be included in the ceremony in some small way.

Granted, Joan Rivers was not an ordinary person. Nonetheless, how many ordinary people wondered why they’ve never attended a funeral that made them laugh and cry in ways that perfectly reflected the person being honored? The answer is too many. According to research studies, most consumers don’t believe the average funeral director has the skills to arrange funerals beyond the traditional scripture-eulogy-hymns-prayer variety.

Fortunately, OGR members are a progressive lot. Many realized long ago that cookie-cutter funerals will drive people to one of two types of providers: A) those who offer fresh and meaningful ceremonies; or, B) those who offer easy options at rock bottom prices. Professionals at many Golden Rule Funeral Homes understand that today’s successful funerals are as much about creating vivid memories of the deceased’s life as they are about helping families cope with loss.

The predictable line that once marked a “dignified funeral” has not only shifted, it’s now in a different spot for each and every person that walks through your funeral home’s front door. Baby Boomers, especially, need assurance that funeral professionals will set aside preconceived notions of what constitutes a “suitable” funeral and pinpoint where their lines are so their families can acknowledge their grief and honor their loved ones’ lives. And they must do it in ways that are a little less gloomy, a little more spirited, and a lot more memorable than other funerals they’ve experienced. If their local funeral director can’t provide such an experience, they’ll find someone who can.

After all, shouldn’t everyone be the star of their own funeral?

Does Funeral Service Have an Image Problem?

JFKFuneralJacqueline Kennedy once famously wrote that her aim was to be the “art director of the twentieth century.” Little did she know that some of the most enduring images she would help create would come from her husband’s funeral ceremonies after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. These images were so striking that they are etched in people’s minds as vividly today as they were 50 years ago. Those who have only seen photographs—many who weren’t born yet--feel as though they witnessed the proceedings: Black Jack the riderless horse with boots positioned backwards in the stirrups; six white horses pulling the caisson upon which the President’s flag-draped casket rested; John, Jr., donned in blue coat and shorts on his third birthday, saluting his father’s casket on its way to burial.

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Will Mr. Hyde Save Dr. Jekyll?


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Are Funerals Getting More Fun?

I’ll avoid the obvious pun, but has anyone else noticed signs that more people are interested in having fun while planning their funerals? Okay, maybe fun is overstating the trend, but instead of avoiding final planning at any cost, it appears that more people are recognizing that death is, in fact, a part of life, and you might as well make the best of it.

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