July 2022

Page A8 JULY 2022 FUNERAL HOME & CEMETERY NEWS Se c t i on A Scan QR for our website 1-888-792-9315 • mymortuarycooler.com Mortuary Coolers starting at $5,899 “DUNCAN STUART TODD KNEWWHAT WE NEEDED.THEY MADE IT SIMPLE IN HAVINGTHE TOTAL PACKAGE.” -THEWOOD MORTUARY PREPARATION ROOM Design + Equipment 720 - 583 - 1 886 info@duncanstuarttodd.com www.duncanstuarttodd.com SINCE 1991 By Linda Findlay Aftercare privilege to care for and bury their dead. All aftercare is not created equal. Is what you are doing for your families building relationships with your families? Aftercare is more than mere words. It’s not about saying “thanks for your business.” Rather, when packaged and presented in a timely and compassionate fashion, Aftercare speaks to the funeral home’s client families. It allows a funeral home to say to its clients, “You matter and we care.” It’s about providing a grieving parent, child, spouse or family member a glimmer of hope and an answer to “how to” navigate grief. A gesture that says “We are with you still.” Yes, Aftercare is being eager to comfort a funeral director’s clients, to serve and to assist a family in mourning after close family and friends have moved on. There are many excellent options for your firm to consider using to help you support your families. Listing resources on your website with a link will give your families access to quality support that they probably would not easily find on their own. Are you using your social media presence as a valuable educational resource or are you using it to post obituaries? It is important to always consider resources that will provide support and understanding. Additionally, an opportunity to connect with other bereaved people, who have a similar loss, is what is most helpful. I always suggest that you include a “aftercare resource information” sheet in the “at time of need” packet of information. I know that sometimes families don’t really look at that information during the first few weeks following a loss, but at least they will have it. It is also a good idea to mail that sheet to the family, with a personal note, sometime after the first month after the date of death. Do any of us really know what any one individual needs when they experience the loss of a loved one? Is there a formula that we can come up with that will provide a solution to solve grief for each person who experiences it? Is there one book, one resource, one person, one support group, one article, one experience, that facilitates a turning point on the grief journey? Obviously, the answer to both of these questions is no! In an ideal world, that would be a perfect scenario. But our world is not ideal. Worse yet, most people don’t know how to support someone who is grieving. The only people who have any understanding to what the journey of grief looks like, is those who experience it. Even then, there are distinct differences according to so many factors. As a funeral service professional, what can you provide to a grieving family that will make a difference? Especially when the rest of the world has not caught up to the realization that grief affects people much deeper and for much longer than one would imagine. When considering an aftercare program, your tasks begin with planning. Planning is essential to set you on a path of successfully reaching out to families. Equally important is, your entire staff needs to be on board and know how you will be following up with families. Ideally, if you can designate one person who will oversee your aftercare program, that would be best. There are many questions you will need to answer while planning your aftercare program. Who will you provide aftercare for? Will you reach out to your families, your community, how long will you reach out to families, will you explore hosting a support group, community educational seminar, or holiday program? What are your budgeting concerns? How much time will be required to fulfill an aftercare program? Most importantly, what will you provide for families? You will need to explore options of what is available. Does your current funeral home CRM solution include an aftercare module? Does the preneed company you work with offer aftercare material? What companies serve the funeral industry with products and services that are specifically marketed for aftercare? There are many options. One very important point to remember. Aftercare is best received “down the road”. Connecting with families at three, six or eleven months is a time when most family and friends no longer speak the lost loved one’s name-support is usually non-existent. The value in connecting with families during the first year is priceless! Some ideas to consider are: • Monthly or quarterly mailings. Either an email newsletter or regular mail that includes grief support content and local or national support group listings/links • Regular social media posts that include grief support material or memes • Follow up telephone calls to the next of kin • Hosting a support group. Training for you is essential if you consider hosting a group unless you can financially sponsor a group already running in your community. • Hosting a holiday program, an information seminar or workshop. Find “experts” in your community who can provide instruction to manage finances, for example. There are many useful, supportive ways that you can reach out to your families and provide aftercare. They do not have to be costly or too time consuming. With planning, making some decisions, choosing the best resources and providing aftercare consistently will show your families your continued commitment to their well-being, long after the funeral is over. Success of an aftercare program is hard to measure, but you will feel good about your commitment to caring for your families. You will, no doubt, contribute to their healing journey that will help them to find hope and peace in the aftermath of loss! How powerful is that? In today’s world, funeral directors should be searching for the means to differentiate their product and services, not to mention their brands, from those offered by their competition. To remain competitive, to stay viable, you must review, evaluate and at times, change what you are doing. The funeral home industry must provide more because clients expect more. But where does a funeral home operator begin? With the essential basics! Aftercare is one of those essential basics that all funeral homes should embrace. But all aftercare is not created equally. Once you have the basics well in place, you can then safely move on to even more sophisticated enhancements to your funeral home’s business. The funeral industry is about people, trust and loyalty. Before we fully embrace the future – and we should – we can’t afford to do so at the expense of not executing the basics eloquently. Aftercare is a cornerstone of funeral service. Without aftercare, you may be seen as just another funeral home on a corner. The point is this, while it’s easier to maintain the status quo or be satisfied with merely surviving, funeral homes need to embrace continual refinement of their businesses. When people are grieving, they need understanding and hope-there is no doubt about this statement. Hope in and of itself is meaningless without action. Hope is about the possibility that “things” will be better someday. Hope has to be coupled with action in order for change and healing to occur. If you hope that you will win the lottery one day, and don’t buy a lottery ticket, your hope to win the lottery is meaningless. So, here is a question you should be asking yourself about the aftercare services that you provide: Is my aftercare program providing hope and understanding and do I offer the “how to” in navigating grief after the funeral is over? The “how to” is of utmost importance as well. Even with today’s accessible and ease of use global Internet, availability of community support groups and all kinds of grief support literature and resources, people who are grieving are lost! They don’t have the bandwidth to search for support for themselves! The funeral professional has the unique opportunity to provide hope, understanding and the “how to”, with a well thought out and quality aftercare program. Quality aftercare offers useful information about what grief is and how to find the support that is so desperately needed for the long haul. Anything less should never become or be what aftercare is. Good old-fashioned care and quality support go significantly further in building relationships with families and will bring them back to your funeral home to allow you the honor and Linda Findlay is the founder of Mourning Discoveries, Grief Support Services. She is a 29-year career Aftercare Coordinator, a published author, and an advocate for bereaved families. She is the founder and co-creator of The Grief Cruises and managing partner with The International Grief Institute. Linda can be reached at 315-725-6132 or Lf6643@yahoo.com. Visit www.mourningdiscoveries.com, www.thegriefcruises.com or www.internationalgriefinstitute.com. F U N E R A L H O M E & C E M E T E R Y N E W S w w w . N o m i s P u b l i c a t i o n s . c o m Monthly Columnsonline at The Value of Aftercare BROOKLYN,NY— Sparrow is pleased to announce the expansion of its Brooklyn-based team with the hire of Russell Gonzales as Senior Director, as the company positions itself for continued growth. Russell comes to Sparrow after nearly a decade of working for Riverside Memorial Chapel and Frank E. Campbell in New York City. “I am so excited to join Sparrow and to play a part in bringing to life its one-of-a-kind vision for the funerSparrow Expands Team with Hire of Veteran Funeral Director Russell Gonzales Russell Gonzales al industry,” says Gonzales. “In a very short time, Sparrow has become an integral part of the community and a trusted partner for families and loved ones. It is an honor to be part of this dedicated team of professionals and to continue to be of service to those in need, both in person and online.” Sparrow Founder and CEO Erica Hill noted, “As Sparrow continues to grow and open in new cities, our success depends on having the right people to provide the best support for those who need our services. I am so pleased to have Russell leading the way at our Brooklyn location.” Sparrow is a full-service contemporary funeral home with offerings ranging from the traditional to the unique. With its first location in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Sparrow is a light-filled space, consisting of two “celebration rooms,” a street-facing retail store offering comforting goods, and a staff that is compassionate, thoughtful, and thorough. For more information, visit www.sparrowny.com SEND US YOUR NEWS! PO Box 5159 Youngstown, Oh 44514 1-800-321-7479 info@nomispublications.com