SDF – How Less is More
In a past life, I have conducted more funeral services than I can remember. I wasn’t involved with a funeral home; I was a church minister who had many families come to me to discuss what they wanted. Over the years, the insights I learned have helped mold the shape of what SDF is today.
There are more insights than I can write about here, but here is one thing I noticed. Arranging a funeral is stressful, even if the death was expected. Deciding not just on the funeral service but also everything else that happens is something people don’t often experience.
Besides things like contacting the lawyer or WINZ or the bank, there might be the estate to deal with. There are the family members and friends also mourning the loss. And then they think of needing a funeral service and what that might entail.
I saw that along with the stress of planning a funeral service, the result was that family members were often not in the right place to be fully present at the service. Their minds and emotions were dealing with huge changes to their life, and they found themselves a few weeks later trying to remember what actually happened.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for funeral homes to take advantage of the state people are in. Being stressed and vulnerable means decision-making is often in the “too hard” basket. So, families tend to just go with what the funeral home suggests, which often means that a funeral home can easily add things because it means more income for them. How many times have people been a little shocked with the invoice?
Planning a Funeral can be Stressful
So I wanted to take away a whole lot of the stress and complication with arranging a funeral. For example, I have just one kind of coffin, so there is no pressure to buy more expensive or worry about what handles you should have. The reality is that the coffin will be buried or cremated, and the expense is more of a marketing ploy than anything else.
With our plain coffin, sometimes a family will decorate the coffin or cover it with a sheet, flag, or blanket. They know that it isn’t the coffin that is important; it is the person inside. Also, the paperwork is minimal and only takes a few minutes to complete. So, families aren’t inundated with questions or choices. They aren’t told what they “should” do, but rather what they would like to do.
Something important happened when I did this. Families commented not only on how easy the arrangements were, but also on how it was, in many ways, more meaningful for them. Even though my process is less complicated, it didn’t take away from the significance of what is happening. Often families say that this easy arrangement allowed them more space and less pressure to focus on more important things – like the person, the family, and the passing of a loved one.
What I think families are finding is that SDF isn’t just about low-cost funerals, but a process that is very different from the usual funeral homes. No pressure, no expectations – but rather a relaxed respectful approach.