No matter what is happening in the world, the sad truth is that death is an experience that affects us on a daily basis. Besides close family and friends, a funeral director is often one of the first people who will have close contact with grieving individuals very soon after the passing of a loved one. As such, they are often interacting with people who are at their most vulnerable and emotional.
The job of a funeral director is not only to ensure that organising a funeral is as easy and efficient as possible, it is also to support those who come to say goodbye and remember their loved ones. As such, it is important that funeral professionals remember how important their role is in the grieving process. While a funeral director may deal with death on a daily basis, a grieving family member does not and so treating the process like a duty of care will ensure that each client has as much of a positive experience as possible.
So how can funeral homes support grieving families? We explore more below.
A kind and empathetic approach
For a funeral director, a cremation or a burial is a daily occurrence and the topic of death is something that must be dealt with in a very matter-of-fact manner on a regular basis. It is only natural for even the most empathetic of people to become used to the kind of industry in which they work.
But the truth is, funeral directors are an essential part of the local community and in being one of the main points of call for families during the funeral planning process, these interactions can make a huge difference to the way that they process their grief.
That’s why we take a warm and friendly approach with each and every customer, ensuring that they can feel comfortable with us from their very first meeting. The relationship between a funeral director and a customer should be akin to that of a friend. After all, it is the funeral director who will be the custodian of the loved one during this time and it is important that families feel listened to and comfortable.
Even sitting down with a family member over a cup of tea or coffee and having a casual and friendly conversation with them ensures that your relationship starts out in a positive way, as opposed to approaching grieving individuals as just another day on the job.
Be an honest funeral director
Of course, being understanding and empathetic does not take away from the fact that a funeral directors is still a business. However, it is important to remember every step of the way that it is a business made possible by the pain and grief of others, no matter how essential a service it may be. And when people are in emotional pain or are tired and confused, they are far more likely to overlook hidden costs or agree to the upselling of additional services and items.
As a funeral director, it is vital that a pricing structure be created that communicates exactly what is available, clearly and without any loopholes. Of course, many local funeral directors will simply have guide prices with the official quote to be settled after individual requirements are discussed. But the discussion surrounding money should always be open and understanding.
After all, funerals are expensive and many families can barely afford to pay for one as it is. In these situations, the best thing a funeral director can do to help support families and mourners is to draw their attention to packages and services that can save them money, rather than allowing them to spend more money when they are already going through a difficult time. This kind of treatment will likely create a more trusting relationship and could even lead to further business thanks to positive reviews and word of mouth.
Be proactive and adaptive
Like in any business, circumstances can change on a whim and when the business in question involves funeral planning, that means that emotions can run high. The job of a funeral director is to alleviate as much stress as possible for the family and organise the event as smoothly as possible. That may mean having to think creatively and adapt to unforeseen situations.
For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were not able to hold the funeral that they wanted with mass gatherings having been banned. This means that more and more people have been in need of a more modern and technological approach to funeral attendance and this is something that many venues have had to adapt to. This includes the use of recording devices, livestreams and other methods to ensure that even the family who cannot be present, are thought of and valued.
The COVID-19 pandemic as a whole has tested most businesses, but especially funeral directors who have had to come to terms with a new set of rules almost on a weekly basis in order to help say goodbye to those we have lost. But it’s by adapting to these situations that stressed families are able to enjoy some peace of mind that their loved one’s final farewell is in the hands of someone who is able to come up with solutions to help ease the discomfort in the funeral planning process.
Go the extra mile
Funerals are an extremely personal experience and even though the funeral director may not be involved on a personal or emotional level, they have the ability to completely change someone’s mood and experience, either through their words or their actions. Going the extra mile and being as generous as possible has never been more vital than it is now under the current circumstances when some people aren’t even allowed to say goodbye.
Consoling families through this time and ensuring that they feel like they are getting the funeral they’ve wanted means that you are aiding them in their grieving process. Families may not be able to have a large and lavish funeral – or any funeral at all – but directors can offer discounted memorials for later down the line, for instance, or offer discounted funeral services when restrictions have eased. Even offering an additional service such as doves, horses or live music as during a future memorial may give them a glimmer of hope for making a future sendoff as special as possible.
With the current restrictions, only funeral directors are permitted to wash and dress a loved one in preparation for a funeral. For some families, this is extremely heartbreaking to be separated from their loved ones in these final moments. As a result, we have offered to light candles, play music and say prayers in order to make family members feel reassured that their loved one is taken care of even if they cannot be present.
Most importantly, having expert knowledge of the local area and services is vital in providing the best support. It’s only by having the first hand experience of several venues, churches, celebrants erc that you’ll be able to offer the right support and kindness. And as usual, it is vital to offer people choices based on the knowledge that you have. This not only makes them feel less pressured into spending money they may not have, but it helps them feel reassured that the people responsible for taking care of their loved one are experts in what they do.
We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.