Raven Plume Consulting

Funeral Directors and Halloween—to Celebrate or not to Celebrate?

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It’s that time of year again, the holiday that seems to be made specifically for funeral service professionals— Halloween! Because most of us fall somewhere on the Spooky SpectrumTM whether it be full on costuming and partying or simply enjoying a scary movie and handing out candy, Halloween is a holiday that is popular amongst our ranks. The problem becomes though, how do we celebrate it appropriately? The general public assumes that we relish the opportunity to open our gory side any chance we get, but many members of our own community are abhorred with the idea of handing out a single candy bar at the funeral home. So, what can be done? Here are some simple suggestions that can help you figure out what is best for you, your business, and celebrating Halloween.

    • No gore—I think this goes without saying. Whether it be at your residence or the funeral home, we really should be tasteful about what we do. We also have a duty to not decorate with anything that depicts a real death. A common Halloween decoration is that of a hanged person. This can be triggering to a survivor of suicide, and it becomes even more tasteless when it comes from one of us. This goes for any manner of suicide of course, and we should also avoid car accidents, crushing, etc. Families who see this may think we are inspired by a specific death that we may have seen.  

    • Classic movie monsters are a go—anything that has a “Disney” version of it available would be appropriate. This means ghosts, Frankenstein’s monster, vampires, etc. are fair game and you should use the Disney version available to you. However, we aren’t quite there yet with slashers or other more recent horror film monsters so skip them for now.  

    • Generic Halloween or Fall décor is great—decorate your place with pumpkins, straw, spiderwebs, and the like in the public areas. I wouldn’t go overboard, but strategically placed Halloween decorations add a nice flair to your common spaces.  

    • All of your decorations should be public—this means nothing in employee only spaces. You won’t want to do something that’s a little bit more inside joke-y that someone stumbles across and thinks you are making fun of their dead loved one. 

    • No prep room equipment—anything you use in the prep room should not be equated with anything we are using to frighten people. If we are going to sell the public on embalming being a surgical and professional procedure, then we need to act like it.  

    • “The Holy Chariot”—by this, I mean the hearse. Now, some would say, never violate the sanctity of the hearse as it is a vehicle for the transport of loved ones. However, if done with class, it can be an appropriate Halloween decoration. Trunk or Treats are popular events, and a hearse would fit right in. The best way to present your hearse would be the same way you always do—clean, shiny, and ready to go. The hearse itself brings to mind enough Halloween vibes that you don’t need to do anything else to it.  

    • Hosting events at the funeral home is a definite “do” if you are into it—but the smart play is to make it about a charity and incorporate other local businesses as much as possible. Then it becomes less about the “spooky funeral home” and more of a regular community event that just so happens to be at the funeral home. We have parking, so maybe consider hosting a trunk or treat at your place! People sometimes see us on the fringes of our communities so taking opportunities to make our locations about something other than death is a good look.  

    • Skip the costumes at the funeral home—there is a good chance that you will have to sit down with someone who is sad and the last thing you want to be is dressed like a DIsney character. Further, costumes really aren’t functional for the things we need to do daily. However, that doesn’t mean that we need to skip the Halloween flair! We are already wearing black, so why not add an orange accent? How about a pin or pendant of a pumpkin? Maybe adding a little Halloween style to your make-up for the day? There are a lot of little details you can to your look that are totally classy and appropriate.  

    • Caskets are tough call—it seems like kind of a low hanging fruit to use a casket for something. However, it may not be cost effective for you to sacrifice a casket, and it may not be the context you want people to view something you are trying to sell them later. Plus, as funeral service professionals, we probably recognize that caskets really aren’t that scary to begin with. The current market offerings are much more designed for a peaceful look rather than a spooky one.  

If you are stuck for ideas, look at what your doctor’s offices are doing. The context is similar; people are hurting and need help from someone who can fix them. There is a good chance that they have their spaces decorated in a classy fall/Halloween décor, so steal their ideas. You know your community and your place in it, so maybe none of the above bullet points fit you at all! If the answer is “no decorations” then the answer is “no decorations.” But if you are looking for ways to participate in the celebration, consider my ideas and run with them. Happy Halloween everybody and be safe out there!  

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