Even in relatively “typical” conditions, funeral professionals help families navigate extraordinarily challenging situations with compassionate service. When COVID-19 disrupted everyday life across the country, funeral professionals were suddenly among those who the public called to respond quickly and tirelessly to help their communities through the challenges of the pandemic. Today, those same professionals continue to demonstrate their strength and determination in ways that make a tremendous difference to the families they serve.
In honor of National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day (March 11), we wanted to take another opportunity to recognize all funeral professionals who help families even as they overcome challenges of their own. Keep reading to discover five reasons why everyone at Homesteaders is thankful for funeral professionals.
1. Your Perseverance
In 2020, many businesses and operations were shut down or interrupted in response to the pandemic. As communities put health and safety guidelines in place – that often changed rapidly as more information became available – you pivoted to continue to help families honor their loved ones through the uncertainty. Your training and expertise are vital in ensuring that loved ones are handled safely yet with the same care and dignity your client families expect from you. You have been working to help keep your colleagues and communities safe while continuing to do the crucial work of helping people through some of their most difficult times.
2. Your Compassion
When times become challenging, it’s sometimes a natural instinct to put one’s own needs above others. But as you do in so many situations, funeral professionals always show tremendous compassion and empathy for their client families, helping them find unique ways to honor their loved ones. In addition to the funeral services, you still provide meaningful aftercare and continued support to ensure families get the assistance they need.
3. Your Creativity
Funeral professionals’ adaptability has never been more critical than during the pandemic. During that time – and still today – you rose to the challenge of making sure families could honor their loved ones even when large gatherings were not possible. With little warning, you adopted new technology, adapted your procedures and gave your best to families who had lost a loved one.
You may have expanded your firm’s technology capabilities to ensure family members who cannot attend services in person can still watch live videos of those cherished moments. Maybe you’ve implemented creative ideas to help families heal and plan for events in the future when they’re able to gather safely. Or, you may have even created new types of events that provide safe ways for families to connect and remember their loved ones. All of these actions, and the many, many others you do every day, do not go unnoticed.
4. Your Generosity
Funeral professionals demonstrate an incredible level of generosity toward their communities, staff, client families and their own families.
Toward Your Community
You serve your communities in more ways than we can count. For example, announcing high school football games, recognizing promising young recipients of your funeral home’s annual scholarships, offering ongoing support of your local hospice organizations, volunteering with local organizations like Meals on Wheels, rotary clubs, athletic boosters and your fire departments. You support local businesses, schools and churches. Even on your busiest days, you still take time to do your part to make your community a better place. You are remarkably selfless pillars of your communities, generous with both your time and resources. For that, we are profoundly thankful.
Toward Your Staff
At Homesteaders, we aim to build a culture that reflects the work ethic and atmosphere demonstrated by our funeral home customers, who tend to do a great job of recognizing their staff’s efforts. Mark Iles, President of Iles Funeral Home in Des Moines, Iowa, acknowledges his employees’ contributions by leaving personal messages for his staff whenever their client families mention them by name on one of the firm’s customer satisfaction surveys. “I find it takes a great deal of my time because they are mentioned so frequently,” he shared. “Our goal is to have funeral directors who view this profession the way my dad did – as a calling. When you find these people, you cherish them, you want to take care of them and you want to retain them.”
Like Iles, many of you are second, third or fourth-generation funeral directors who view your staff as an extension of your family. You know them each by name, know who their spouses are and where their children attend school. You take time to learn about your employees’ lives outside of work because you genuinely care about them as individuals, not just as members of your staff. We are thankful for funeral professionals who work hard to make sure employees feel like valuable team members.
Toward Your Client Families
The nature of funeral service is just that – service. Funeral professionals are never really off duty, even during vacations and holidays. You answer the call whenever the phone rings. You treat every family with dignity, respect and sincerity. For that, we are so very thankful.
5. Your Dedication to Excellence
Through the pandemic's challenges, funeral professionals did not slow their efforts to innovate and meet the changing needs of families. Many responded to the pandemic with new services and options that will continue to make the lives of the families they serve better even after the worst of the crisis has passed. Hundreds of you have attended Homesteaders’ continuing education courses for earning CE credits. You have also gathered virtually and in person for conventions and seminars that provide opportunities to share ideas and support one another. You continue to amaze us in your efforts to build skills and more effectively serve families.
As you work to serve your client families, the team at Homesteaders is here to support you. From all of us, thank you for what you do every day.