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A death has occurred.
There are two primary roles in this transaction—family member and funeral professional. Each player has needs, expectations, and outcomes. Each player must come to terms with dealing with the motivations of the other. Each player depends upon effective communication and understanding to reach the mutual goal of a satisfactory experience.
Unfortunately, we funeral professionals can become so caught up in our needs and goals that we fail to stop and consider the point of view of the family. We become death blind. We fail to understand that this is the only time in this family’s life that they are going to have to deal with this death. We don’t stop to hear the tears or the stories. This is the third call of the night or the third arrangement of the day and we are just tired and want to be done. It’s just another family. When they say “cremation,” we put the contract in front of them to sign. Great. This one is taken care of. Next.
How do we enter this transaction in a way that makes it transformational? We elevate this occurrence from the typical to the personal. Each step—from the phone call to the removal to the arrangement to the service—must be laser focused on that family: What do they need? How can I hear them? What stories are vital to the creation of a memorable service? How do we begin that healthy grief journey for them?
The family does not experience this event as just “another first call,” “a 10:00 arrangement,” a “2:00 service,” or a “direct, no service.” Our expectations must align with the needs and goals of that family, and we are not done until we can assure that every effort has been made to see the world through their eyes, see this loss through their hearts, see the journey ahead and give them tools and gifts to assist them. The mutual goal of honoring a life must be achieved, or we have failed.
We cannot afford to keep failing. The very future of our profession depends upon our ability to be an important part of the experience.
Join Glenda Stansbury at CANA’s 2018 Cremation Symposium as she demonstrates effective ways to listen, engage, touch, and transform a family’s experience into a personalization you can promise. Glenda is the Marketing and Development Director, InSight Books and Dean and Training Coordinator for InSight Institute. She holds a BS in Special Education from Central State University, as well as a BS in Funeral Service and a MA in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. She has co-trained over 2500 Funeral Celebrants across North America with Doug Manning. Glenda is a certified funeral celebrant, licensed funeral director/embalmer (Oklahoma), certified funeral service professional, Thanexus (New Jersey Board of Directors), and full-time instructor with the Department of Funeral Service at the University of Central Oklahoma. Visit the CANA website for Cremation Symposium details: gocana.org