Resources to Help You Give the Best Support to Grieving Families (part 1)

You know better than anyone —  running a funeral home requires that you wear many different hats and be knowledgeable about a lot of subjects. And for each individual and family you interact with, it also means adapting to their unique needs and ways of dealing with loss.

Families’ Unique Needs

Part of tailoring the service you provide is sensing what a family needs beyond the obvious funeral related choices and decisions. That’s what giving the best service is all about — being attentive, and having the right tools and resources at hand.

Offering compassionate support takes on multiple layers. Knowing when to step back and let a family make decisions and choices independently is important. Yet, you also need to know when to step in with hand-holding. There is one thing that’s pretty universal, however. No matter the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one, almost everyone needs help coping with the loss.

Each person deals with grief differently, though. Many won’t realize it until the funeral is over, and your time with them is done. But being made aware of grief support resources that they can access on their own terms, in their own time, will be much appreciated by the families you serve.

Photo by Simon Wijers on Unsplash

Grief Support That Fits

Providing a list of support tools like podcasts, books and websites that address how to handle the loss of a loved one, is like giving a much-needed gift. Beyond being needed or desired, it’s a gift that fits everyone. The resource list you make available will have a variety of tones and topics so people can choose which to best connect with.

Use this compilation as a starting point for the resource list you put together. Or, keep it as-is and simply drop it into a variety of branded communication channels of your own.

Grief Out Loud — a sensitive, helpful mix of personal stories, tips and interviews with bereavement professionals. Geared toward grieving children, teens and the adults supporting them, it’s “platitude and cliché-free.” This podcast is produced by: The Dougy Center — The National Center for Grieving Children & Families.

What’s Your Grief Podcast: Grief Support for Those Who Like to Listen — found on the Stitcher app for podcasts, this is a series hosted by two Baltimore-area mental health professionals with over 20 years combined experience in grief and bereavement. They’re also the founders of whatsyourgrief.com.

PlayerFM’s compilation of best grief podcasts — updated January 2018. This list  captures a wide variety of podcasts from psychotherapists, coaches, grief experts and everyday folks sharing their stories on handling the grief process. There’s something for everyone here.

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Below are a few podcast suggestions specifically for funeral directors.

While these selections may not directly help the families you serve, they’ll remind you of the meaning and humanity behind what you do day in and day out. The way we see it, that ends up making you a better professional and care provider.

The Adventures of Memento Mori:  A Cynic’s Guide for Learning to Live by Remembering to Die — “a podcast exploring the science, mysticism, culture and mystery of death. Satirical and philosophical, the show follows host, D.S. Moss, as he attempts to reconcile his own impermanence and live a more meaningful life. Problem is, life keeps getting in the way.”

From The Moth Radio Hour — two warm, personal podcasts. One from the perspective of loss, and the other from a man who makes deathcare his life’s work:

Carry Him Shoulder High — a story of six sisters bearing the weight of their father’s death. “If there’s one thing the Irish do well, it’s death.” Mary Kate O’Flanagan recounts how they bucked tradition to carry their father shoulder high, and also how traditions and bonds helped them get through their grief. As with any Irish wake this short podcast shares remembrances, laughter, tears, and something very special that helped them cope with the loss.

Homegoings — Harlem funeral director Isaiah Owens feels that he was born to be in the funeral profession, but he finds some obstacles along the way. Subject of PBS documentary, Homegoings, Owens says this in the film, “When it comes to death and funerals, African-American people, we have our own way. It has worked for us throughout the ages. It has kept us balanced, sane, and everybody know that it’s going to be a sad, good time.”

Photo by Marshall Stief; courtesy of Homegoings, by American Documentary, Inc.

You can also hear Owens speak about his life and work in this NPR interview. We especially liked his answer to a question about how he organizes a funeral where people can express both joy and sadness, laughter and crying:

“First of all, as a funeral director, you have to know the person or the history of the person that you are having a celebration for. And you have to reflect that person’s life and their legacy. Each person has a uniquely different funeral, just like there’s no two people with the same DNA, there’s no two people that have the same funerals. The funeral is for the individual.”

Other sources of grief and bereavement support worth exploring:

For those who aren’t sure how to support someone who’s dealing with the death of a loved one, it’s heard to know what to do or say. This npr.org interview with Sheryl Sandberg, author, activist and Facebook’s COO, offers up advice on how best to be there for someone who is grieving. As she does in her book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy, Sheryl shares insights and wisdom that stem directly from her own recent experience.

Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

TEDx talks on coping with grief — the topics of these five talks range from finding hope, to moving on, to learning how to communicate freely about death and suffering.

Share the Support

Be sure to think about how you can most effectively distribute lists of the recommended resources you curate. Beyond creating a branded flyer or brochure to be displayed and handed out in your funeral home, leverage the lists to show you stay current and care — on your website, through social media and potentially even by guest blogging.

What Sets You Apart

There are numerous sources of comfort, wisdom and insights out there. From a little-known gem of a podcast on grief to an established website with advice from mental health professionals, online resources abound. Choosing the right tools and resources to help families with bereavement is important, but keep in mind —

It’s your compassion, understanding, and the little ways you show you care that sets you apart from competitors.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Caring enough to stay abreast of quality podcasts that help deal with loss, and sharing your recommendations with grieving families is just one of those little ways. In our next blog article on Resources to Help You Give the Best Support to Grieving Families, we’ll share a curated list of books and websites that may offer solace to those who’ve lost someone they love.

Remember, our recommended podcasts and upcoming book list are intended to be a jumping off point for you. While not every resource on our lists will be just right, they’ll provide a start on customizing and compiling a resource list that speaks to you and those you serve.

And…while you’re still thinking about the unique ways you show you care, we’ll leave you with these last few suggestions:

  • Learn about the benefits of offering a payment alternative like our point-of-sale financingWe’re the only NFDA-approved financing solution for at-need families.

and…

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