Servilusa is Portugal’s leading funeral agency. With an average of 5,500 funerals held every year, the company has started introducing new services to make the act of saying goodbye a more adaptable, personal experience for mourning families.
“We believe that Servilusa has played a key role in modernising a sector that was strongly conservative by introducing products, services and behaviours that did not exist,” Paulo Moniz Carreira, Servilusa’s head of business, told Barlavento newspaper.
“Up until a few years ago, the rituals were always the same, services had stagnated, people did not have options. What we did was look at the market and try to respond to the needs that were not being satisfied,” he said.
“We took our focus away from the act of burial and concentrated on families, on mourners.”
Funerals with music and ash scattering ceremonies are just some of the innovations, as well as a new ‘funeral-in-life’ plan which allows people to prepare in advance and which has been generally “well-accepted”.
Cremation has also become an important part of Servilusa’s services.
Though it has been available for 30 years in Portugal, it was an option that was “never truly explored or presented to families”. “We cannot forget that the Catholic Church only relatively recently updated its stance on cremation,” said Carreira.
“Although there have been crematoriums in Portugal for years, the waiting lists, cases of long-lasting malfunctions and lack of information has kept this option from growing.”
Servilusa’s business boss guarantees, however, that the company has been doing everything it can to present cremation as a “viable option”.
The agency runs six crematoriums in Portugal, and is involved in a tender for the construction of another in Faro.
Servilusa has also played an important role in preparing people to deal with the death of loved ones.
Firefighters, police and emergency service workers are among many professionals who have attended courses promoted by Servilusa on this issue.
As Carreira explained, the company’s influence is not measured by the number of funerals it arranges or the number of agencies it runs but by the support it provides to social, cultural and educational activities centred on its area of expertise.