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Conversations within a funeral home during visitations…

It shouldn’t be surprising to me after these years, to see how furniture space planning has a dramatic effect on the behavior of people at a visitation.

Where you place your furniture will direct the behavior of your families.  

Many of you are able to  direct the line for a visitation, paying close attention to traffic flow – getting to the registry area, proceeding to the casket and paying respects to the family.  Many funeral home owners go to great lengths to facilitate smooth traffic flow, even in the most populated visitation.   But what about after greeting the family?

Did you know that 72″ is the maximum distance between 2 people who wish to have a weather conversation?  It’s the “We’re having some pretty nice weather…” talk.  Easy, non-invasive, non-threatening conversation.  The everyday, “I don’t know you very well (or at all) but want to be polite” conversation.  So now think about which furniture groupings in your funeral home, allow for this type of conversation. Because this type of conversation usually takes place while people are standing, it might be sufficient if there’s only a few groupings, but there should be at least be a few.  Furniture grouped for this conversation might be 2 loveseats or sofas facing each other.  Maybe two chairs separated by an end table.

Now let’s think about the next level of conversation… “Hi, how are you, how’s the family” casual conversation.  People know of each other or may be neighborly when they see each other.  Again, this is not invasive conversation – not intimate.  Fairly easy conversation.  For this type of conversation, people like to be about 48″ apart while seated.  That’s the corner of a loveseat next to a chair.  It’s two chairs next to each other.  It’s casual conversation at a round table, with a coffee cup in hand (for those states that permit food service within the funeral home.)  This type of furniture grouping should be the most prominent within your funeral home.

And as a sidebar… while I realize that having an open seat available for your families is important… it’s OK to see baseboard.  So many funeral homes will line up the furniture around the room because that’s the easiest way to provide seats and still maintain a walk-way.  And that might work for services and some visitations, but it shouldn’t be the norm.  Lining up furniture doesn’t allow for conversation – and comfortable conversation goes a long way to creating pleasant memories for your families.

The last (and sometimes most overlooked) type of conversation is deeper, more invasive.  It’s the intimate conversation.  Sometimes welcomed – and sometimes not.  It’s the type of conversation that can be healing at a funeral.  It provides a clearer understanding between two people.  A furniture grouping that facilitates this type of conversation should allow people to sit together, close together.  Two people on a loveseat… one person on an ottoman sitting in front of the other on a chair.  Close enough to hold hands.  These furniture groupings may be a little more tucked away from the traffic, in a more quiet setting.  These are the most critical areas to create good memories.

As always, thanks for listening!

Tam Schreiner, owner & president of FFH design