Month: September 2016

Silence the Stigma: Coping With Suicide

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September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Death from suicide provides a unique set of complications for the affected family, their friends, and the funeral service professionals who serve them. Offering comfort to the bereaved also becomes a bit more difficult. What should a friend or funeral director say? Is there anything to avoid mentioning? If you’ve lost a loved one to suicide, how should you respond?

Here are some tips for coping with the loss of a loved one to suicide and comforting the family of a suicide victim. Read the rest of this entry »

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Suicide – A Funeral Director Speaks Out

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As a funeral director for over 30 years, I have been fortunate to help thousands of families through one of the darkest times in their lives. With September being National Suicide Prevention Month, I wanted to share a personal story with you on how suicide has touched the lives of my family.

It was a beautiful evening and I was sitting at the top of the Marriott Marquis in New York City at a cocktail party when my phone started to ring. It was my mother informing me my stepbrother had taken his life. In that moment, I knew I would have to put on a brave face since I was in a very public place. I equated it to the way President Bush must have felt when he was sitting in a classroom full of children when he was informed about 9/11. It was truly one of those heart-stopping moments. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Your Funeral Home Should Have an HR Strategy

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Dealing with human resource problems are frustrating and challenging for all involved… including myself!  At the Foresight Companies, I am frequently asked to provide advice on dealing with employee issues in funeral businesses.  At some point in our conversation, I ask the funeral service professional, “What’s your HR Strategy?”  Most frequently they answer “Strategy?  What strategy?” Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering the Work of Funeral Directors on 15th Anniversary of 9/11

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Close to fifteen years ago, millions of people watched the horror unfold on their television screens on the morning of September 11, 2001 when four airplanes were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists and subsequently crashed in DC, New York, and Pennsylvania. We were overcome with shock and dismay for the victims, the people in those areas, the families and loved ones of those who would perish that day, and for our country.

The events of that tragic day serve as a reminder of the dangers of the world but also highlight the goodness of hundreds of ordinary citizens who, along with first responders, took heroic actions to save innocent lives. All of them deserve to be remembered and admired for their work.

Funeral directors played an important role during this difficult time. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Things I’ve Learned from Working with Funeral Directors

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Here’s a typical conversation that I have when I’m out with friends, meeting new people.

“What do you do?” asks someone who doesn’t really care but feels obligated to engage me in conversation.

“I work for a trade association that works with independently owned funeral homes. I’m a meeting planner.” I respond to cut to the chase.

“Oh! So you plan funerals? Do you embalm bodies?” returns the individual who now has a stronger interest in hearing what I have to say and obviously wasn’t listening.

“No. But I know quite a few people who do. Why? Do you need a discount on an urn?”

The asker typically turns pale and isn’t sure where to go from there.

So goes many a conversation at cocktail parties and other events when I have the opportunity to interact with anyone who doesn’t work in funeral service. It’s made me stop and think about what funeral directors face when they share their story with others.

Since I joined OGR’s staff four years ago, I’ve learned quite a bit about funeral service professionals and have found that they have a pretty challenging job. They work long, irregular hours around strange smells, extreme emotions, and lots of paperwork. They respond to phone calls in the middle of the night, often miss holidays with their families, and care for dead bodies. They maintain composure and professionalism in the midst of family conflict, inclement weather, and national tragedies. A lot of what they do is behind the scenes, unseen and unheard.  Read the rest of this entry »