Why are you in the funeral care business?

To be sure, the underlying reason anyone starts and grows a business is to provide an income for themselves and their family. Hopefully, funeral care is also a business in which you find great personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and challenge, and success.

Too often however, funeral care professionals get caught up in the sales metrics used to measure business and financial growth.  Increased call volume, greater revenue per call, or an increase in the number of funerals conducted year to year are useful management metrics of course, but focussing too much on such measures of “success” can easily obscure what is truly important – not only for the families you serve, but to the continued and sustained growth of your funeral business.

At a recent conference of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), Jason Troyer, Ph.D. and Lynn Gibson, D.Phil,CFSP moderated a breakout session titled “Why Funeral Directors Must Become Ritual Specialists”.

In their session, Troyer and Gibson outlined what they referred to as the six primary cornerstones of funeral ritual and bereavement care:

  1. Dignity

Make sure you are treating both the deceased and the bereaved with utmost respect. Ultimately the care and compassion that you show the family of the deceased is what will be remembered.

  1. Acceptance

Part of your job is to act as a bereavement facilitator, helping others to recognize the finality of death. Thus, your focus needs to be on conducting funeral services in ways that affirm the importance of accepting that a death has occurred.

  1. Ritual

Rituals are an important part of the grieving process. Rituals provide structure and foundation during uncertain and difficult times. Helping your families identify and implement meaningful rituals in the funeral service will enable them to put their feelings and thoughts into action. Rituals can be religious, spiritual, or cultural. The important thing is that the rituals provide meaning and an opportunity to acknowledge the finality of death.

  1. Meaning

Particularly for those who were closest to the deceased, death means needing to reorganize and re-frame a new and unfamiliar reality into day-to-day life. Families need to make sense of the loss, and may need guidance through topics such as why things happen, what happens after death, and corresponding religious, spiritual, and cultural view.

  1. Support

Place an emphasis on providing and receiving support.  Families want and need to receive caring expressions, such as cards, messages, flowers, gifts, stories of remembrance, and so on, both during and after the funeral or memorial service.  Support can be through support groups large and small, through personal contact, or even through materials and meditations offered online.

  1. Legacy

An important part of the funeral ritual is the sharing of stories and memories about the deceased.  These may be photographs of the deceased’s life, or actual reflections and stories shared. Help families to recognize the ongoing relationship they have with the deceased.

Is what you are doing as a funeral professional  helping to facilitate the essential cornerstones of the funeral ritual for your families?

If so, great! If not, it’s time to get busy. There’s always something you can learn, and an improvement you can make.

Source: Rilee Chastain – The 6 Cornerstones of Funeral Service That Guide Everything


Jamie Allar
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