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Archive for June, 2014

There is a wonderful song from the musical, Mary Poppins, which I’m guessing most of you could sing along with.

“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. In the most delightful way”.

Wiktionary defines the phrase like this “Proverb – An otherwise unpleasant situation can be pleasant when a pleasant aspect is deliberately introduced.

I like to think of it like this – If you put a positive spin on the difficult things we have to do in life and a positive spin on the things we know are good for us, like take our medicine. With that positive attitude you can accomplish those things much easier. And in the end you’ll be happier and all the better for it.

So what has this got to do with funeral service? Well, I think that funeral service needs to put a little sugar with the medicine they want the public to take.castor-oil-postcard

Funeral service keeps preaching that to really recover from the loss of a loved one you need to have a service, preferably with a body present. Time and time again in trade publication articles and books endorsed by all the state and national funeral associations we hear the same story. All the funeral service endorsed doctors of sociology and psychology say that a traditional service is the correct “medicine” to cure people of the disease of grief and mourning.

We have been told to go out and “educate the public” on the need for this medicine. We have been advised to ask the hard, probing and thought provoking questions in arrangement conferences about what will happen if the family doesn’t provide the “medicine” (service) for friends and relatives.We have been encouraged to use guilt as a motivator to convince people that they need to take/provide the “medicine” for everyone involved or else they will fail to heal properly.

Image But this all reminds me of some old black & white movie of a tough old nurse forcing a spoonful of castor oil down a kid’s throat. “Take this. It’s good for you”.

Wouldn’t it be better if we put a little sugar with that medicine? Wouldn’t it be better if we promoted funeral service from the more pleasant aspects of what happens during funerals and visitations?  So what’s pleasant about funerals, you may ask? It’s pretty easy. We as, human beings, do it nearly everyday in dozens of different places.

Gathering together with people and sharing stories.

That’s it. Two things. Gather together and share stories. Meet and Talk. Isn’t that what you do when you go out to dinner with friends? Isn’t that what you do at parties? Isn’t that what you do at Church, at Rotary, at the Friday night fish-fry, at the family reunion? And when we meet and talk, we smile and laugh and remember. And in the end we usually feel good about it. Right?

That’s exactly what happens at funerals and visitations. People gather together and share stories about their loved one. Happy stories, funny stories, sad stories, long forgotten stories, stories from the bible and family stories. We all know it’s a good visitation when the room is full of people and the noise level is up from all the talking. There is laughter and hugs along with the tears.  It is through those stories we share our love and respect for that person and for the family. It’s through those stories that we celebrate a life.

It is through those stories that the heart gets healed. The medicine that the people need is really in the stories that they hear and tell.

So I think that funeral service needs to focus on those two things; Gathering People Together and Sharing Stories. Funeral service needs to promote the fact that we are experts in helping people gather together and share stories. People like to gather together and share stories. It’s a pleasant thing to think about.

What’s a better marketing phrase to use “We make a hard time a little easier” or “Gather Together, Share the Stories, We help make it easier”?

Yes, we help with people who are mourning and travelling through grief. But by using a little sugar – “let’s gather together and share the stories” – we can help the medicine go down so they can heal their heart.

If we don’t get this right the public will continue to move away from funeral homes towards restaurants and clubs and backyards for their celebrations. The choice is ours to make.

I’m Dale Clock. Thanks for listening.

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