I’m sure this happens to other funeral directors all over the country.
You know people around town. You come in contact with them at church, at the clubs and associations you belong to or at restaurants you frequent. Maybe they are high school classmates from years ago. Maybe they are your children’s friends parents that you’ve gotten to know at sporting events or dance recitals. You see them at funerals and visitations that you are working at. You develop a relationship with them. Sometimes those relationships are pretty close and sometimes those relationships have existed for 20 plus years.
Then a death occurs in their family and they call the “other” funeral home in town.
When that happens to me I tend to take it very personally. It feels like a total rejection of who I am and what I stand for. It hurts me deeply, right down to my core. I rarely show up at the visitation or service to pay my respects because I feel like if they didn’t call me to help them through their tough time, they don’t want to see me at all. I’d just make them uncomfortable or feel guilty.
Some people may think that what I’m really upset about is the money that I’m not making off of this family. I will admit that the financial side is part of it. In these days, in this economy, with the dramatic shift in our mix of business I need every funeral I can get, just to keep the doors open. I know the public thinks that the funeral industry is recession proof and people will always need us. But they have no clue, nor do they care, how challenging these times are business wise for so many of us in the funeral business. But it is the emotional rejection that I feel that hurts the most.
So I commiserate in private or with my fellow employees who understand, because they feel like this too when it happens to them. We try to figure out why they called the other funeral home. Did they know somebody that worked there? Was it family tradition or was there a pre-arrangement from years ago? Was it location or a perceived price difference? Did I say or do something that ticked them off? Did they not like my therapy dog or the latest remodel I did or the fact that we are moving away from the old traditions and trying some new stuff like Life Stories and Videos? The list could go on for several paragraphs.
Chances are I’ll never know. Because when I see them the next time I’ll just be nice and act like nothing happened. And they will have no idea how much their decision effected me personally. For them it was like deciding whether to go to Chili’s or Applebee’s for dinner. I’ve talked with some non-funeral industry friends about this and they tell me I have to learn not to take it so personally. That it will just drive me crazy. I know they’re right and usually I get over it in a couple days. Until the next time it happens and I go through it all over again.
I’m Dale Clock. Thanks for Listening