“You mean I can be cremated after a funeral? I had no idea!”
These words were said to me during a discussion I had at church a couple weeks ago.
I was having a conversation with a couple who were visiting from another state. The topic of my former profession came up (I once was a funeral director). The couple said they planned to be cremated. I pressed back a little and asked them the reason.
They replied that it was mainly cost related. They really did not want to spend the money on a casket and vault. They saw the value in having a service, they just didn’t see the value in spending all that money on “something that was just going to go in the ground”.
I asked if they were aware that they could cremate at any point of the funeral process – even after a visitation and funeral service. They truly had no idea.
I was surprised. This couple was in their early 60’s and had certainly attended funerals where the body was cremated following the funeral – and yet they had no idea.
It caused me to wonder if they were an anomaly. I am guessing they are not. It then caused me to wonder if this is not more the norm than the exception.
The Curse of Knowledge
The “Curse of Knowledge” is a term that refers to the bias that occurs because we assume when we are communicating with others, that they have the same knowledge and background that we have.
Every profession struggles with this curse of knowledge. We have certainly all experienced this in reverse. I vividly recall asking for help at a hardware store once. I was wondering how to do some project in my home. The clerk went into great detail in explaining to me how to best do my project and what tools to use, etc… The problem was that I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.
I am certain his advice was good – and he indeed knew what he was talking about. It was absolutely worthless to me. It could just as well been in another language.
We see this in funeral service as well. Maybe not always in what we say (although this can be a problem), but also in what we don’t say. We can assume that people just “know”.
What do the people in your community know about options in regards to funeral service? Not only, what do they know, but more importantly, where are they getting this information?
Of all the people in your community, you are one of the “experts” in regards to death and funeral service. If you are not providing information to your community, who is? How are you doing in educating your community?
Here are three ways to better communicate and educate your community:
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, LinkedIn, … the list could go on and on. It also could get overwhelming. My challenge to you is to pick one and utilize it. In my opinion, Facebook makes the most sense for the funeral profession. Develop a plan. It needs to be more than just for sharing obituaries. Share quotes or articles that are pertinent. Share resources. Provide value.
- Speak – If you are not promoting the benefits of the funeral – or visitation – or memorialization – who is? Look for opportunities to speak. Civic organizations are always looking for speakers. Offer to speak to a church group or Sunday school class. Use these venues to provide information to educate on options and benefits. Be sure to provide time to answer questions. Always give. Always seek to serve.
- Write – Again, you are the expert. Write a monthly article. Cover a wide variety of topics. These could be about options when someone dies, making funerals personal, healthy grief, the benefits of the funeral/visitation, what to say at a visitation, different funeral customs, getting through the Holidays, etc… The list could be endless. Post these articles on your funeral home website or a blog. Email them to your email list (if you don’t have an email list, you must start one!). Submit them to your local paper. Ask churches to include them in their newsletters. Be creative here. Always seek to provide value to your client base.
The families you serve must be educated. They are getting information – from the media, from the internet, from their friends and family. The question is are they getting correct and helpful information? You must be proactive here! If you don’t feel you have the time – or the ability – then have someone on your staff handle this – or hire this out. Have speakers come to your community. Purchase articles. Utilize your State and National Associations.
If you are not promoting funeral service and death care in your community then who will?
Matt Soderstrum is a LifePlan Facilitator, Life Coach, Speaker and Author. He is a former Funeral Director and Pastor. He can be contacted at mattsoderstrum.com.