In his new funeral service training workbook entitled Educating the Families You Serve About the “WHY” of the Funeral: A Guide for Funeral Home Staff, author and educator Dr. Alan Wolfelt makes the case that funeral homes must educate not only the families they serve but also their entire communities about the importance of funerals. He reviews the various reasons that today’s families are questioning the value of funerals and supportively challenges funeral homes to become passionate educators—or risk going out of business.

Dr. Wolfelt shares the story of a funeral director who had recently arranged a direct cremation, with no service, for a family in his community. “When I asked him what education he had provided them about the importance of the funeral,” writes Wolfelt,” he replied, ‘Well, shouldn’t I have just done what they asked?’ My answer, both to him and to you, is an emphatic ‘NO!’ You cannot believe your role is to ‘just do what they want.’” Instead, believes Dr. Wolfelt, your role is to teach every family who walks through your door about the tremendous importance of creating a meaningful funeral experience. “No, you cannot and will not change the mind of every family you serve,” he adds, “but if you don’t believe that your role is to educate families about the value of what you can provide, you should seriously question your future in funeral service.”

Throughout the guide, Dr. Wolfelt emphasizes that to create the “sweet spot of experience” for families, funerals are best constructed of many elements, from the visitation to flowers and music to the committal and gathering. In other words, the more elements that are incorporated into the service, the more transformed the family will be by the experience. The guide explains the unique healing qualities of each element of the funeral ceremony and encourages every funeral home staff member to be able to articulate the value of each element to at-need families.

Helpfully, the guide also includes a substantial section on overcoming potential objections families have about funerals in general as well as particular elements of the funeral.

When used as the foundation for a staff training, the guide is designed to help you and your entire staff gain knowledge, learn skills, close performance gaps, and inculcate values and behaviors that pertain to interacting with the families you serve. “Such a training has the potential of producing greater job satisfaction, increasing motivation to teach the value of funerals, and enhancing the capability of everyone on your staff,” writes Dr. Wolfelt.

Dr. Wolfelt’s new workbook is available separately or as a set with arrangement room posters and take-home brochures for families that explain why funerals are meaningful. All can be ordered by calling the Center for Loss at 970.226.6050 or at

Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., is a respected author, educator, and consultant to funeral service. He advocates for the value of meaningful funeral experiences in his death education workshops across North America each year. He also conducts an annual training program for funeral directors in Fort Collins, Colorado. For more information, call the Center for Loss at 970.226.6050, visit, or e-mail Dr. Wolfelt directly at [email protected]