The Good Funeral Guide Blog

How full-service and niche undertaker websites use words

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

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Posted by Richard Rawlinson

While many undertakers’ websites offer useful information for those planning funerals, they’re understandably not impartial, being the marketing platforms of commercial companies. Compare and contrast, for example, these words from both mainstream undertakers and specialists in their given niche (simple funerals, woodland burials etc).

A full-service, family-run chain says this of direct cremation:

Direct cremation may be the least expensive but we’d advise that it’s not for everyone. There is no ceremony at the crematorium. The funeral takes place at a time and date to suit us. This pared-down service is designed for people who want minimum fuss and who may wish to have a larger ceremony at a later date.  As funeral directors, we are conscious that the evolution of traditional funeral rites reflects our need as human beings to bid farewell to a life with a degree of ceremony and communality which helps us to bear our loss.    

A direct cremation specialist says:

Using my service removes so much of the stress from an extremely difficult time, and provides the family with their loved one’s ashes, complete in solid wood casket, for whatever style of farewell they may then wish, and at a time and location of their choice.

A traditional undertaker says this about embalming:

Embalming is a temporary preservation process which is required where the deceased is to be buried overseas. It is also advisable in the following circumstances: where there is to be viewing; when there is going to be a delay between the date of death and the funeral; in times of exceptionally hot weather. Whether or not embalming is appropriate in any particular case is a matter upon which we would be pleased to offer you advice.     

Green undertaker scarcely mention embalming at all, except perhaps as an aside:

[Woodland burials] offer an ecological alternative to traditional burials and are sometimes but by no means always less expensive. The land is managed with the environment in mind and the land is reverted back to woodland or meadows. Instead of a traditional headstone, sometimes a tree is planted with a plaque and environmentally friendly coffins made from materials such as bamboo, wicker or cardboard are usedThe body is not embalmed with harmful chemicals.

A large funeral director says this of humanist funerals (a slight bias towards the less exclusively-atheist civil celebrants perhaps?).

The term ‘humanist funeral’ is often used to describe a non-religious funeral, or one which may have religious elements, but is not led by a religious leader. In fact, a Humanist funeral is essentially atheist rather than agnostic or multi-faith. When the congregated mourners are of many faiths or the deceased was an agnostic, the most fitting approach may be to use a civil, non-religious or secular celebrant. These celebrants are open to the inclusion of readings, prayers, hymns and music which derive from any spiritual or religious traditions relevant to the deceased and the congregation. 

Meanwhile, an undertaker somewhat renowned for its religious funerals seems keen to make clear its diversity:

As a company, we represent no single culture, race, religion or nationality and will assist you in whatever requirements you have. Should you need help in finding a religious or non-religious celebrant to conduct the funeral or advise you regarding a religion that may not be your own, we will gladly help. We warmly welcome people from all cultures and all religions or none. 

6 comments on “How full-service and niche undertaker websites use words

  1. Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 4:54 pm

    David, I am constantly surprised by the number of our clients who came to us specifically because our website was different and ‘stood out from the crowd’ as having a different ethos.

    More generally…I do wish people would learn to use the word Humanist properly! I am a Humanist but not an Atheist. Mind you…the BHA does nothing to clarify the situation!

    • Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 4:59 pm

      To err is humanist (to forgive them…)

  2. Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 4:20 pm

    More and more people read websites, David, to pick up the vibe and find out how much you cost. The time when anybody doesn’t is not far off.

    I think jargon is very useful — core values, key messages, points of differentiation USP, etc. Just as long as you write in plain English! Good luck!!

  3. Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Food for thought indeed. I confess, our own fairly basic website needs upgrading – don’t they always. It does not necessarily reflect current thinking but is honest.

    As a funeral veteran of 30 years experience, I am naturally in the habit of not explaining anything which a family may find unpleasant, in my opinion! I fight this instinct wherever possible.

    I would certainly refer to the GFG for inspiration before re-writing our website info because although I tend to doubt many families read it, I would like it to reflect what we do and what we say in our arranging room. In modern jargon, it should reflect our core values 🙂

    • Richard

      Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 11:09 pm

      David, your website was upgraded by a certain TV makeover show, ands never regret it, or underestimate its impact. Digital communication, visual first impression and written copy, is crucial. They need to be upgraded constantly, too, and complemeted by social media.

  4. Wednesday 26th February 2014 at 11:05 am

    What an interesting blog.

    I can’t say I bother to read any of the other funeral directors websites that are near me, so this was fascinating!

    A funeral directors approach to websites and other social media has certainly increased in the last few years, and a funeral directors opinion on say embalming, is as diverse as the people that have to visit them.

    Again…food for thought.

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