cremation

Distributing Grief Info: How to Share All You Know

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This post is Part 2 of a series on providing grief information to families (see Part 1 here). The original article appeared in the 2017 spring issue of OGR’Independent magazine

Your funeral home may offer a number of grief resources to families, but are you distributing the information in a way that reaches the most people? Below are some ideas for providing grief information as a way to market your expertise, build relationships, and engender trust even before a pre-need or at-need situation.  Read the rest of this entry »

Providing Grief Info: It’s Not Just Aftercare

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This article originally appeared in the 2017 spring issue of OGR’s Independent magazine.

I am always encouraged when I see funeral homes providing their families and communities with high-quality information about grief and loss. I believe that providing grief information is a critical way for funeral homes to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Unfortunately, some funeral professionals only think of grief information as a part of aftercare. Instead, I would encourage you to view providing grief information as a way to market your expertise, build relationships, and engender trust even before a pre-need or at-need situation. I have outlined several ways that grief information can help set you apart as a funeral home that provides exceptional care to bereaved families.  Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Trends that Shaped Funeral Service–Part II

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2016-trendsLast week we began a review of 10 developments in funeral service that caught the attention of national–and sometimes–international media. Coverage focused on changing trends, occasionally on what went wrong, and often what were the most outrageous ideas. Here are another five topics that demonstrate what is catching the attention of media outlets and their readers.  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 »

Advice for Funeral Directors Working with Donor Families

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Photo Credit: Laura Demby      Jeni Stepien with Arthur Thomas after he walked her down the aisle at her wedding last Friday.

Jeni Stepien’s father was murdered ten years ago, but his heart lives on in the body of donor recipient Arthur Thomas. When Ms. Stepien  got engaged in October, 2015, she struggled with deciding who would walk her down the aisle. The thought that a piece of her father could be present during her wedding ceremony led her to ask Arthur if he’d be willing to escort her.  Mr. Thomas agreed, and after he walked her down the aisle on Friday, Jeni shared “My dad is here with us, and this man is here because of us.”

Such a beautiful story has us wondering what role the funeral director played in the Stepien and Thomas story. How can funeral service professionals serve families like the Stepiens? Funeral directors are well-positioned to provide donor families with the support and information they need and make a powerful impact in each family’s life, but is there anything they can do specifically?  Read the rest of this entry »

Assisted Family Dress: Helping Families Say Goodbye

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Funeral homes around the country are offering a unique service, which provides cremation or burial families a hands-on way to say goodbye to their loved ones – I call it the assisted family dress experience.

The assisted family dress experience gives the family a way to “do something” for the deceased. Read the rest of this entry »

10 Trends in 2015 That Were Wake-Up Calls for Funeral Providers

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OGR does its best to keep members in touch with the most important news stories, statistics and trends that impact independent funeral homes through OGR’s weekly e-newsletter, The Independent Insider, and its quarterly magazine, The Independent. Of the hundreds of trends we saw in 2015, the following 10 are our picks for those that give us the best clues to where we need to focus in order to serve families in ways that are more meaningful, healing and palatable.  Read the rest of this entry »