Because of the role a funeral home plays in the early days after loss, every staff member–whether licensed or not – is in a unique position to provide grief support.
Every arrangement brings two clients: the deceased and the survivor(s). Providing care to the deceased has its own challenges. Dozens of things can stall the process. Still, once done, it’s over. Your relationship with the deceased no longer exists. But the one you have with the bereaved survivor(s) continues.
The Two Caveats of Grief Support
Two limitations exist regarding the grief support offered by a funeral home. The first is, you can’t do it all. Unless there’s a large support staff, you’re often overwhelmed by your existing workload.
And the second caveat: you certainly can’t do it all for everyone. That’s because everybody grieves differently. In truth, the natural tendency for many people is to withdraw from the world after the death of a loved one – much like a wounded animal crawls into a safe space to heal. This can make it harder to actually connect with the bereaved in any meaningful way.
5 Steps to Providing Effective Bereavement Support
Despite these two limitations, it is possible for your funeral home to provide effective bereavement support to the families you serve. First, let’s talk about what is meant by “effective”. It’s not about successfully healing and completely restoring the well-being of the bereaved individual. Effective bereavement support takes place when you are able to give the person what they need when they need it. This means:
- Developing a “resource” mindset. If you can’t do it all, you can know it all. Get to know the variety of online grief support websites and create relationships with the bereavement support services in your area. Create handouts for distribution during arrangement conferences and upon request. Make them available for download on your website.
- Inviting – and perhaps even rewarding – staff members to educate themselves about grief. There are dozens of low-cost online grief support education resources where they can learn about grief and bereavement.
- Avoiding assumptions. If your firm offers email bereavement support, don’t assume your client families know about it. Do more than just tell them: give them a print sample. Let them know there’s no risk involved, as it’s very easy to unsubscribe. Also – and this is important – tell them their privacy is protected and their email address will never be shared with anyone. Ask for their permission to add their address to your database. One more thing: don’t assume your families are aware of the grief support resources on your firm’s website. Instead, take time to show them what’s there during the at-need conference.
- Making sure your grief email series is mobile-friendly. Email bereavement support isn’t worth anything if the content can’t be easily read; and since 54% of users open email on a mobile device, this is important. (Statistical Source: Litmus, 2017 State of Email Report)
- Hosting – and formally inviting client family members – to an annual memorial event. No matter what phase or stage of grief they’re in, these remembrance events can make a big difference in their lives. So much healing takes place in community.
Your funeral home is one of the first points-of-contact after the death of their family member, giving you a priceless opportunity to create strong, long-lasting relationships with effective grief support. With that said, it’s time for a question: what kind of grief support does your firm offer? Let us know by leaving a comment below. Thanks!