Adapting to Online Arrangements: 4 Steps to Get You There
Posted May 13, 2020
4 min read
The great majority of family and friends are unable to attend funeral or memorial services right now.
But funeral professionals are adapting to continue to help families cope and grieve.
Michael Lanza, a funeral director in the Seattle area, agrees, saying just how proud he is to be a part of the profession. “I am extremely proud to be a part of a profession—of men and women—who gave and continue to give so much of their lives, sympathy, support, to the families they serve,” he says.
“Combine those ingredients together and the result: true professionals. They will never be the ‘unsung heroes’ in my eyes,” he says.
Michael is a great example of a funeral director who’s adapting and evolving right now. With input from Michael, here are a few ways you can adapt to online arrangements:
1. Be open to new ways of supporting your families
Previously, some funeral directors may have been reluctant to offer webcasting or virtual service offerings because they were uncertain if it would be able to provide the same degree of help and relief to families.
Michael says this was similar to his mindset before the coronavirus crisis, but now his funeral home has started offering them. “Our funeral home immediately went to work with online arrangements, something we haven’t had in the past. Surprisingly enough, it was very well accepted by our client families,” he says.
What he didn’t realize is that he would actually be the one who would grapple with it, at first. ““I have been a funeral director for many years, and with all the knowledge, experience, and empathy…nothing could have prepared me, or any of us for this crisis…When we are used to meeting with families face to face, not being able to make that connection, made me feel I wasn’t serving them in my full capacity [at first],” he explains.
Despite his initial reaction, he’s glad to see how much value, relief, and comfort it is providing families.
He’s gotten an overwhelming amount of positive feedback based on the virtual services which have given families the ability to come together to share stories and memories of a loved one. “The response was overwhelming, as evidenced by the many ‘thank you’ cards we’ve received.”
2. Treat every phone call as a critical one
Michael says that strong verbal communication—which has always been important—is critically essential when you cannot meet with families in person. “To help the process move smoothly, every family we served has our personal cell phone contact,” he says.
That’s helped to “close the gap” of not being able to make arrangements the traditional way, he explains. It’s also provided family deep comfort in knowing they can reach out, directly, to him and others.
(And don’t forget: you can still add every family members’ contact information into the CRäKN database. That means no matter who was in touch with a family during the coronavirus pandemic, your firm can have and maintain their contact information for the future.)
3. Utilize photos of the memorial service
Webcasting is one thing, but also don’t forget how powerful photography can be to capture context of funeral services or end-of-life celebrations. Even photos taken on your cell phone are high enough quality for families to benefit from.
Michael says taking some simple photography is another additional way he’s helping to make the funeral service more tangible.
“As for the traditional funeral families, who I believe were the ones most hit by this, we took photos for them, of the casket, flowers, including the hearse with the casket in it, the entry to the cemetery….[We also took] photos after the casket had been lowered, and [of] the grave filled.” Once again, the positive response to the photos has shown it’s another great way to help families during this time.
4. Consider other ways to give context and connection to families
Taking photos helps families in this difficult time, and Michael says he’s been looking for other heartfelt ways to offer that same sense of comfort to cremation families. As just one example, they set appointments similar to how they usually do, but they’ve also offered each family a set of thumb prints and a long-stem red rose. It’s another instance of doing anything they can to enhance elements of the experience for their grieving families.
CRäKN’s COVID 19 Offer to Funeral Homes
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CRäKN is offering this emergency response for a one-time, deeply discounted onboarding fee of just $295. Get started with the easiest, most efficient case management tool in the profession: Contact us today to learn more.
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