Jun 05, 2019
If you could define funeral service with one image, what picture comes to mind? There are the standard representations you can find on any photo stock website if you search ‘funeral’: the casket with the sprawling floral spray on top, the landau bars of a hearse, a single flower atop a gravestone. While these images may capture the most common funeral associations, they lack the most vital ingredient of a funeral service: humanity. More than anything else, funeral service is about the relationships and the connections between people.
There are a lot of differing opinions about the appropriateness of taking photographs during funeral services. While some feel it is improper to permanently document such raw emotion and grief, others believe funeral photos serve as a comforting reminder of love and devotion. Every single day, behind the door of a funeral home, a truly beautiful moment is taking place that demonstrates the power of remembrance. Most of these moments are private, unseen by others outside of the funeral service community and the families they serve. For this reason, it is nearly impossible to find a single photographed image that fully defines funeral service, though countless images exist in the memories of funeral professionals. Even if these images were captured in film, choosing a single one would prove quite difficult as the work of a funeral director is not measured by any one great success, but rather by the innumerable kind gestures and comforting words that help those in need.
In ASD’s newsletter, we spotlight a funeral home once a month who shares an image that positively reflects the service-hearted nature of the funeral profession. Whether it demonstrates the funeral home’s commitment to making a service extra meaningful for a family, giving back to their community or displaying reverence, these photos all capture why we are so grateful to work with the funeral service profession.
Here are 16 Photos that Exemplify the Best of Funeral Service
These photos were captured at a funeral service handled by McGuiness Funeral Home in Sewell, NJ. The gentleman who died was a truck driver and pilot who was a member of many local fire departments and flew for the NJ Forest Fire Service. There is so much reverence in that photo of the gentleman lined up before the casket is brought past, and we love the idea of using a truck bed to transport a casket; a great way to personalize a service for someone who loved driving a truck. It is obvious from these moving photos that the funeral home went above and beyond to commemorate this gentleman’s life.
When the staff at Lucas Funeral Homes in Hurst, TX were tasked with organizing a superman-themed funeral service for a 7-year-old-boy, they knew it would require their own set of super skills. The directors helped the parents find a casket designer who could build a custom Superman casket in honor of their son. During the funeral service, all of the directors at Lucas wore Superman shirts under their suits – a thoughtful and heartfelt gesture that was especially meaningful for the boy’s parents. This was truly an incredible tribute for a beloved little boy who was clearly a hero to so many!
This photo was captured during Geisen Funeral Home & Cremation Service’s 150th Anniversary Celebration. Located in Crown Point, IN, the funeral home is a pillar of the community and wanted to reflect their commitment to their town by helping to create a lasting monument to it. The funeral home collaborated with schools, churches and organizations to create a time capsule of their community’s past. In the photo, you can see the decorated time capsule vault being closed before it’s burial. What an inspiring way to honor the funeral home’s legacy and pay tribute to local history.
This photo was taken during a uniquely personalized funeral service held at Snow Funeral Home in Saginaw, MI. The gentleman embraced the memory of growing up with limited means. As a child, he was always excited to get a new pair of shoes. His request for his funeral, was for everyone to bring a pair of shoes for kids in need. According to funeral director, Brandon Hurren, over 300 pairs of shoes were donated during the service! We commend the directors for helping to coordinate this gentleman’s kindhearted last wish.
During a recent funeral service at Martin Funeral Home in Mount Morris, MI, the funeral home had a special treat provided to guests. The directors served up chocolate milkshakes as a tribute to a gentleman who was a big fan of sweet desserts like chocolate milkshakes and ice cream cones. We love this idea for personalizing a memorial service while bringing comfort and happy memories to funeral attendees.
This photo is actually a still from a video shared by Foothill Funeral & Cremation Service in Glendora, CA. The video was recorded during a vigil service held for a grandfather during which the grandchildren serenaded him with a beautiful song. The powerful video of seven grandchildren performing together beside their beloved grandfather’s casket is so moving and poignant. What a touching way for a family to remember their loved one! Hats off to the directors at Foothill for helping the family to coordinate this lovely tribute.
The directors at Owen Funeral Home in Louisville, KY recently shared a photo with us of their community decorating the funeral home’s Quilt of Remembrance. The directors explain, “Each family is given the option of taking a quilt square and personalizing it in memory of their loved one. When a quilt is completed, we have a dedication ceremony. Our quilts are rotated so each one has a turn of being displayed behind plexiglass in our coffee lounge.”– This is a wonderfully creative idea for staying connected with families served in the past while helping them connect with one another.
This heart-stirring photo was captured by Restland Funeral Home & Cemetery in Dallas, TX during a graveside memorial for a fallen police officer who was tragically killed in the line of duty. Thousands gathered to mourn this young life and the directors were there to capture the moving scene of so many people coming together to support one another in their loss. It is clear from the photos shared that this man touched many lives. The respectful way the photos were taken does not intrude upon the grief of mourners. We’re certain the family will look back on them in the days to come and remember the love they felt from all the people who came out to pay tribute.
After partnering with a local accessibility non-profit, Frain Mortuary in Winamac, IN worked with the organization to update their handicap parking signs. The funeral home shared several photos of the project with their community. “It’s a great project that brings accessibility and awareness to the community! The new handicap logo appears as a more mobile/active person in a wheelchair. It is modern and fresh. The blue paint helps the area stand out so that the spots can be noticed and left for those who need them,”explained Funeral Director, Jon Frain.We love seeing funeral homes getting involved with community initiatives and making a difference in their hometowns.
To help a widow pay tribute to her antique car loving husband, the directors at Mueller Memorial in White Bear Lake, MN parked his beloved 1923 restored T-Bucket in the funeral chapel and filled it with mementos and photos from his life. Dozens of his loved ones also parked their vintage cars outside during the memorial service. What an amazing example of a meaningful and unique funeral personalization.
This photo was taken during the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl parade which traveled down South Philly’s Broad street, where Victor Baldi Funeral Home and Pennsylvania Burial Company are located. The parade brought millions to the city and ran right in front of the funeral home. The directors were kind enough to invite people inside to use the restroom, gave out food/drinks and had a DJ for everyone to enjoy! (Though we’re not so sure if those people on the roof were invited up…) The funeral home has a rich history in the city of Philadelphia dating back to 1921. The hospitality of the funeral directors during the Eagles parade truly demonstrated their love for the city and its people.
When the directors at Coleman Funeral Home in Oxford, MS learned they were handling a service for an avid outdoorsman, they worked with his family to create a meaningful funeral service. These photos show all the different ways the funeral service paid homage to the man’s favorite passions and activities. This inspired tribute demonstrates how creative funeral directors and families can be when personalizing a funeral service.
This photo was taken outside of Brown Funeral Home in Plattsburgh, NY. In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the directors added a pink projection light to the outside of their building to help raise awareness. What an imaginative way for a funeral home to let their community know how much they support this important cause.
When the owner of a local gravel company passed away, Burr Funeral Home & Cremation Service in Chardon, OH arranged with his family to have the gentleman’s casket carried from the church to the cemetery in a frontend loader. Another wonderful example of funeral personalization and funeral directors going above and beyond to create a unique service experience for the family.
Since it’s 4thof July week, we thought we would cap off our list with this Independence Day inspired photo from Canale-Tonella Funeral Home in Marquette, MI. The funeral home celebrated its 125th Anniversary last year and to mark the occasion, the directors rode in their community’s annual Independence Day parade. Wearing period costumes and riding on a horse-drawn carriage hearse built in 1870, the funeral directors paid tribute to both their firm’s history and the history of funeral service. What a festive way for a funeral home to honor the traditions of yesteryear! In addition to the antique carriage, the funeral home’s 1940s Rolls Royce hearse and a motorcycle funeral coach were also featured in the parade.
In today’s media and entertainment industries, funeral directors and funeral homes are constantly getting a bad rap. There is a major imbalance as these negative stories seem to overshadow all of the positive work that funeral directors do day in and day out. By sharing more content that demonstrates how dedicated funeral professionals are to the families they serve and their communities, these morticians are helping to tip the scale in the right direction. For this reason, ASD is always on the lookout for funeral homes that go above and beyond, exhibit exceptional creativity and support their communities. We share these images and stories so that more people can understand and appreciate just how extraordinary funeral professionals are.
What photos have you seen that exemplify the best of the funeral service community? Share in the comments below.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com