5 Ways Funeral Directors Help Others During The Holidays
Article by Jessica Fowler, ASD – Answering Service for Directors
In our society, we sometimes forget that “the most wonderful time of the year” can be an extremely painful time for others. Whether grieving over the loss of a loved one, spending Christmas serving overseas, or trying to make ends meet, many people struggle to get through the holidays. Funeral Directors understand that for a lot of people, Christmas can be a difficult event. Understanding that families need support, many funeral directors search for ways to give back to others during this time of year.
Here are 5 Ways Funeral Directors Help Others During The Holidays
1. Hosting a Service of Remembrance
Many funeral homes organize an annual service of remembrance or tree lighting ceremony for those that lost their loved one during the previous year. This allows the bereaved to come together to honor their loved one and share experiences with others who understand their grief.
Photos from the annual Service of Remembrance ceremony held by Grieco Family Funeral Homes in Kennett Square, PA.
Funeral Directors often provide candles so that attendants can light a candle in memory of a loved one or place an ornament on a memorial tree. These symbolic gestures can have a profound emotional effect on the bereaved.
Funeral Director, Adam Martin, of Martin Funeral, Cremation & Tribute Services in Mt. Morris, MI lights a candle at the funeral home’s “Annual Holiday Remembrance Service.”
Hosting a Service of Remembrance can be a very moving experience for funeral directors. It provides an opportunity to reconnect with all they families they have touched over the year.
More than 1,000 visitors attended John Vincent Scalia Home for Funerals’ Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Staten Island, NY.
2. Providing Families With A Lasting Tribute to A Loved One
In addition to hosting a Service of Remembrance, many funeral directors also provide attendants with a tree ornament in memory of their loved one. This gift is often personalized with an engraving of the name of the person who passed.
The Memorial Christmas Tree at the Eline Funeral Home in Reisterstown, Maryland. Each memorial ornament is laser engraved with the name of the person who passed.
It is common for directors to go out of their way to send these to families who cannot attend the ceremony. Throughout the month of December, ASD answers calls from many family members wishing to express their gratitude for this thoughtful gesture.
3. Sending Gifts to Soldiers Overseas
There are nearly 1000 funeral homes in the Veterans Funeral Provider Network. These funeral homes work year-round to support veterans and active duty service men and women. During Christmas, Veteran Funeral Provides will collect stockings to send to Soldiers overseas.
Funeral Director, Kristin McNames of Grace Funeral & Cremation Services in Rockford, IL with the stockings her funeral home collected for soldiers serving overseas.
Many of these funeral directors have been able to send hundreds of gifts and stockings to soldiers by working hard to mobilize their community to participate. Helping soldiers to feel closer to home during the holidays is a priceless gift that these funeral homes give every year.
Watson-Thomas Funeral Home in Galesburg, IL collected more than 300 stockings for soldiers this year.
4. Collecting Toys and Food for Families in Need
Many families barely have enough to scrape by, let alone celebrate Christmas. Throughout history, funeral directors have never turned a blind eye to those in need. That is why many funeral homes are designated Toys for Tots drop off centers.
Summersett Funeral Home & Cremation Center collects toys for needy children and clothing for homeless veterans. The funeral home also hosts a Holiday Memorial Service and provides personalized tree ornaments to families.
In addition to accepting donations for Toys for Tots, Deisler Funeral Home in Saginaw, MI also collected more than 60 blankets for children in need.
Many funeral homes also host Food Drives or Christmas Dinner events to help impoverished families enjoy a delicious meal. These are just a few examples of different ways funeral homes give back locally during the holidays.
The Coughlin Lastrina Funeral Home’s Annual Christmas Eve Dinner.
From the Coughlin Lastrina Funeral Home Website, “Our family spends every Christmas Eve sharing a homemade Italian dinner with friends, new and old. Whether someone is in need of a hot meal or just a friendly face to wish them ‘Merry Christmas’, we enjoy seeing each and every person who comes to help us celebrate.”
5. Supporting Wreaths Across America
Wreaths Across America is a national campaign to remember and honor veterans by laying wreaths on veteran gravesites. In 2013, Wreaths Across America volunteers laid over 540 thousand memorial wreaths across the country on veteran graves.The organization works to find local support in different areas and coordinate wreath-laying ceremonies every December 13th. Funeral homes like the Snouffer Funeral Home in Zanesville, OH have volunteered to help this cause by encouraging their community to participate and sponsoring wreaths for the ceremony.
A photo of a veteran cemetery after a wreath laying ceremony.
According to Funeral Director, Josh Snouffer, “A lot of veterans have families who have moved out of the area, and it’s just a way to bring the community back into remembering and honoring the veterans that have served our country.”