Journey to Columbus

My journey to Columbus actually began in Memphis in 2014. Stick with me on this one!

My plane had just landed and I stepped outside of the airport into the sweltering heat of a July day in Tennessee. I was already sweating as I crested the doors to the passenger pickup area only to discover that my shuttle was nowhere in sight.

It was my first time attending the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association University (ICCFAU) which is a week long educational retreat held every year on the campus of the University of Memphis. I was there to continue my academic growth as a funeral professional, but I did not know what to expect.

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Folks, Get Ready…

Get ready… and what I mean by that is get ready for all the criticism you will receive being in this profession.  If you were to take a poll of a 100 people I’m assuming most people would say they believe funerals are a rip-off and a funeral director is out to take advantage of someone at a tough time.

I have been in this profession for 14 years now and have heard this as many times as I have heard the phrase “People are dying to see me” which was not funny the first time or the millionth time.

Obviously I have dedicated my life to being in this profession and I take it very seriously and will defend it, so I am a tad biased.  People just have zero clue as to what they are truly paying for.

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Sorry For Your Loss

What can you say to someone who has experienced a death close to them? You may do your best to console them with well worn phrases such as, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

You may choose to liken their experience to something from your own past… “I know how you feel. When I lost my mom…”

Or you may even take the spiritual path to grief relief and exclaim, “They’re in a better place.”

Whatever your method of giving condolence, you may want to consider what is going through the mind of the mourning before digging up a clichéd and possibly offensive message.

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Aaaaaaaaand… We’re Back!

So this is what a hiatus looks like?

Two months is far too long to go without saying SOMETHING… anything. Thanks for your patience, unless you’re new here, in which case: Welcome!

A lot has changed since our last blog post. Zach and I went from being friends as competitors to being friends as coworkers! He now manages Lucas and Blessing Funeral Home in Burleson, Texas which is a sister location to Lucas Funeral Home in Grapevine, Texas where I am.

Soooo, with that exciting news out of the way, what’s new with you?

😉

The summer is finally behind us. I can shift my focus once again to writing…

…Wait.

You’re telling me that winter is the busy season for the funeral profession???

Well crap. Back to work.

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Embalming 101

Embalming… the opportunity for we professionals to create the perfect “memory picture” for a family.  When a family chooses to have their loved one embalmed, never take it lightly and always be aware of the sacred trust that is being placed in you.

It is smart to watch and learn from as many licensed embalmers as you can when serving an apprenticeship or starting your path in the funeral profession.  Continue reading

Train Up An Apprentice

**Forward from the Editor: Matthew Morian

“The focus of Millennial Directors has been to share Millennial viewpoints on the funeral profession. I feel that expanding that focus to allow other generations to share their viewpoints directly with Millennials is also incredibly beneficial to the growth of our profession. On that note, I introduce one of our Gen-X counterparts to share his perspective: Dylan Stopher.”

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You know what’s crazy? If I were to ask 100 funeral directors from different firms how to train a student or apprentice, they would give me 100 different answers. Those answers would vary greatly in scope and level of intensity. Some would be focused on arrangements and some focused on embalming; some looking into paperwork and some looking at professional demeanor.

The best part is that none of these are wrong. The worst part is that all of them are not given equal focus. So I’d like to propose a set of specific steps for standardized training within any facility for students, apprentices, or new funeral directors in your organization.

Please know, these are only suggestions.

Let’s begin with the obvious “Rule Number One” for all funeral professionals: the family is in charge. Continue reading

Yoga: A Funeral Director’s Coping Mechanism

For some of us in the funeral profession, we speak of our career choice as a sort of calling.

The first half of my career I just kind of muddled through. Let’s face it, mortuary school didn’t really prepare me for the situations and the families that would walk through the door. That kind of experience only comes with time.

There are some families that come to us with a sense of relief and peace, but there are those families that sit across from us that are broken and damaged. As a poised and strong funeral director, I carry them through the hardest days and weeks of their lives.

But as a human, I am broken with them.

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The Value of Education and Involvement

Funeral Professionals can never EVER get enough education or stop learning. Just like any other profession we must stay current and knowledgeable to properly take care of our families, our businesses, and our co-workers.

There are so many of us that think we’ve “got it” and we have all the tools on our belts already. This could not be further from the truth. Those who’ve “got it” are the ones who will never accept change and will continue to do the same thing each and every single day for the rest of their career.

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Comprehending Those We Serve

When asked what I think a funeral director’s most underappreciated duty is to a family, I answer: “To listen.”

At the arrangement table we create a solemn trust with those we serve in their time of need. To be the guiding force, the preparer of rites, the wisdom bearer, and the unburdening ear.

As funeral directors, we spend a lot of our time talking. We could learn so much about why we are called to this profession if we would retain experiences from our families as plentifully as we gave them in return.

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Close to Home

Over the years I have experienced loss within my family. Since joining the funeral industry in 2010 I have lost my three remaining grandparents and most recently an uncle.

Uncle Bill was somewhat reclusive. I never really had an opportunity to know my mom’s older brother. Honestly, I don’t ever remember meeting him. Towards the end of his life, major health complications such as diabetes all but immobilized him. With Bill’s body failing, my mother helped arrange for his care at a nursing facility near her farm.

I’m sure my uncle was appreciative to have his big sister so close in his time of need. She would visit him often and keep us updated as to his health and about his current mood.

It was several weeks ago when my mother called to tell me that her brother was entering hospice care and expected he would not have long to live.  Continue reading