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WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 17, 2012, 08:18 PM

Funeral homes making upgrades to keep with the times

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A funeral home in South Carolina is opening a Starbucks for mourners. Other funeral homes are getting WI-FI. It’s all part of an effort to make the consumer happy and content as they grieve.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- A funeral home in South Carolina is opening a Starbucks for mourners. Other funeral homes are getting WI-FI. It’s all part of an effort to make the consumer happy and content as they grieve.

Here at home, two of the biggest funeral homes in town are about to offer larger gathering spaces that will provide more choices for families.

Our culture is changing. Fewer people are going to church. Families are spread out across the country. So, places like Wright Funeral Home in Moorhead is answering the call from the consumer by building this new 2000 square foot gathering space. It’s a place for lunch or a catered meal following or during a service.

Steve Wright - Wright Funeral Home: "There have been more chapel services steadily coming on as the culture changes. You have more people that are unchurched or loosely tethered to their church and people are living longer. So, if you live long enough and you outlive your friends, and the funeral gets to be an intimate affair, people want to be in a smaller, more intimate space."

The gathering space will not only serve the family the day of the funeral for fellowship and a meal, but the night before at a prayer service. It can also double as a chapel, all consumer driven.

Boulger Funeral Home in Fargo is planning a major expansion to the north side of its existing building. This too will feature a more informal gathering space, allowing for fellowship and food apart from the traditional chapel setting.

Larry Boulger - Boulger Funeral Home: "I have seen some very large changes in the last 5 years. One of them is it’s a much more informal community. The type of community services we are seeing that people want have changed. It doesn't mean they don't want a service, it just means they want to me more flexible and reflect their lifestyle."

For years the funeral home industry was pretty business as usual, but in the last 5 years funeral directors say that technology and a desire for more intimate services is changing what is out there now for families that are not just grieving, but celebrating a life.

In Detroit Lakes, the David-Donehower funeral home just opened a brand new facility, complete with a fellowship and dining hall and kitchen for catering.

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