C J Talks About: Funeral Service– Part 3
As I have mentioned before, funerals are important because they serve the living by honoring a cherished loved one. There is so much beauty and grace in the tribute given to someone who touches our lives in a special way. A meaningful and thoughtfully planned celebration of that person’s life will be shared with family, friends, and others who wish to show respect and sympathy expressed over this loss. It helps to reinforce the reality of the death so that the work of mourning can begin.
A good funeral director knows how to work with a family to achieve this. It is a very personalized service, one which is unique to each family and their loved one.
I absolutely want to crawl into a hole and stay there when I hear someone tell me of an experience they had that was less than optimum, or that they did not get to have the detail they wished, etc. To me there is just really no excuse for people to be served poorly. EVEN WHEN I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, there is a certain amount of shame and embarrassment one feels when news reaches them that somebody else in the profession treated a family rudely, badly, or anything less than perfectly.
You see, the funny thing about a funeral is, you don’t get a ‘do-over’ and there isn’t a rehearsal. One shot to get it right. PERIOD. So everything is about service.
As many of you know, I no longer actively serve in the capacity of ‘funeral director’ or ‘embalmer’ but I will always be those things in my heart and spirit; I was meant to do that work. I was born to serve others, help comfort others, and at one time, my whole “universe” revolved around establishing myself in funeral service and becoming my very best professional self at it. Everything went to hell when I injured my back, thus ending my hard-earned career status all too soon. Barring that, I’d still be there.
My ethic remains. Deep down I know I still belong to that work. So I serve in a different way today — in writing about it, helping to educate others about things associated with it, answering their questions about it, and generally befriending folks who are grieving and come by to read a little here. I also write professionally focused articles for Mortuary Management magazine, a funeral service trade journal, each month, which really is an honor to do.
Today, I thought I might take a moment to explain to you, my readers and regular folks, what funeral service is NOT. (Assuming most are NOT familiar with the finer details of performing the tasks of funeral director or arrangements counselor).
By the way, IF YOU ARE a funeral provider, take special note, if the scenario I describe next fits your style of handling a client-family, because it means obviously you don’t know what this business is about.
THIS REALLY HAPPENED, an example of which I’ve never witnessed myself (because I never worked with this level of mediocrity or ill-trained staffing in a place), but which had happened to an acquaintance very recently, when she went to arrange her mother’s funeral and burial at a “combo” establishment — cemetery and mortuary all-in-one facility — and she said she was terribly regretful that she’d gone with that funeral home, in the end. The main reason to do so in the first place was that the mother had begun to look into getting her pre-need plans there and wanted to be buried there as well. The daughter and the family went down to meet with a ‘funeral counselor’ and expressed their wish to set a service for a certain morning at 10:30 a.m. Turns out, it was a ‘no can do’ situation, which straightaway, in my mind made me think that apparently the place was going to be busy at that time serving another funeral or burial, etc. That would be completely reasonable and understandable and a good reason to decline the family’s request. There are other complexities, possibly for other situations but they did not apply here.
SO what happened?
The DAY was fine, however, according to the funeral counselor, but the TIME could not be accommodated because…there was a staff meeting set for that time!
Wow! Excuse me? Come again? Did I hear you say, ‘staff meeting?’
WOW! WOW! WOW! Really?
Just to reiterate:
> A funeral service professional is supposed to serve YOU, the family.
> If it would appear that, by YOUR coming to an establishment and requesting service there is somehow going to be a conflict with that establishment’s set-in-stone ‘staff meeting time,’ then I would BEG OF YOU, to calmly halt the arrangement, immediately, and excuse yourself. If at all possible, take your business elsewhere.
Go to a place where YOUR NEEDS won’t be such an IMPOSITION; go to a place which makes meeting your needs a PRIORITY of the day, instead.
©2014, C.S. Thompson.