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Funeral Directors Share Weekly Tips for Navigating COVID-19

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, funeral directors are continuing to do what they do best; demonstrate compassion and care to the families they serve and find innovative ways to continue to reach their communities. They put themselves at risk every day to fulfill their calling and often go unrecognized.  

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Staying competitive in a cremation market - Q&A

This month, we’ll be featuring a few of the men and women who will be facilitating education sessions at OGR’s 2020 Annual Conference & Solution Center in Asheville, NC at the Omni Grove Park Inn. OGR will be hosting a 3-hour deep dive session on Monday afternoon for those who’d like to explore staying competitive in a cremation market.

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Virtual Grief Support

“Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”

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OGR Members Win in Chicago

The International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) exhibited at NFDA’s Convention & Expo in Chicago, IL last week, where our staff had the chance to reconnect with members and meet other funeral professionals. OGR’s booth was baseball themed (here’s looking at you, Chicago) and anyone who stopped by got an OGR bat and cracker jacks. We wanted to do a quick recap on all the fun we had, so read below if you’re interested.

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How Death Doulas, Home Funeral Guides and Funeral Professionals Can Serve Families Together

This post is an excerpt from an article that appeared in OGR’s 2019 spring magazine The Independent(login required)

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Legacy and Compassion: Member Spotlight

The complete interview originally appeared in the winter issue of OGR’s quarterly magazine The Independent.

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What Working in Funeral Care has Taught Me About Life

This is a profession that changes how we look at life. Each time we are with a family that is experiencing the loss of a loved one, it reminds us to examine how we are living our own life. Socrates wrote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He has a point. So I will access my inner philosopher and expound on the virtues of what I have learned about life from working in death care.

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Tips for Creating a Healthy Work Environment; Reducing Conflict Among Staff

This post is an excerpt from an article that was published in the Summer 2019 issue of the The Independent® magazine

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Examine Your Fears Before Saying No, Part 2

Last week we looked at how suffering from the paralysis of fear isn’t a valid business plan. Let’s look this week at how we differentiate the foolish from the wise changes.

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Examine Your Fears Before Saying No, Part 1

Every funeral director has stories of when things went wrong. Really wrong. A visitation that turned into a fist fight. An employee or colleague who quit with no advance notice. Delivery of the wrong casket or no casket at all. Officiants who use the wrong name. The list of things to worry about is long and varied.

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5 reasons why aftercare programs matter

OGR is partnering with The Foresight Companies to offer step-by-step instructions on how funeral directors can improve their aftercare programs. We recognize the challenges of trying to provide the highest level of care for those who have experienced the death of a loved one. OGR’s new aftercare program will bring together the best ideas and proven strategies on the most important issue in funeral service – care of the survivors.

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Are Funerals Getting More Fun?

I’ll avoid the obvious pun, but has anyone else noticed signs that more people are interested in having fun while planning their funerals? Okay, maybe fun is overstating the trend, but instead of avoiding final planning at any cost, it appears that more people are recognizing that death is, in fact, a part of life, and you might as well make the best of it.

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Did Joan Rivers Knock 'em Dead In Her Final Act?

Joan RiversYou’ve probably heard about the over-the-top funeral that comedienne Joan Rivers described as her ideal funeral in her 2012 book, I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me. She wrote:

I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action … I want Craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing ‘Mr. Lonely.’ I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyonce’s.

And she wasn’t kidding. So how did her real service on Sept. 7 at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side of New York City stack up against her fantasy funeral?

Pretty well, actually. One attendee told USA Today, “It was like a Broadway show with tons of humor, lots of tears, and ended with a standing ovation.” The celebrity guest list included Howard Stern, who gave the eulogy, Donald Trump, Sarah Jessica Parker, Whoopi Goldberg and Diane Sawyer, to name just a few. Hugh Jackman, Audra McDonald and the New York City Gay Men’s Choir sang during the service. At its conclusion, bagpipers burst out of the temple playing songs for hundreds of fans who yearned to be included in the ceremony in some small way.

Granted, Joan Rivers was not an ordinary person. Nonetheless, how many ordinary people wondered why they’ve never attended a funeral that made them laugh and cry in ways that perfectly reflected the person being honored? The answer is too many. According to research studies, most consumers don’t believe the average funeral director has the skills to arrange funerals beyond the traditional scripture-eulogy-hymns-prayer variety.

Fortunately, OGR members are a progressive lot. Many realized long ago that cookie-cutter funerals will drive people to one of two types of providers: A) those who offer fresh and meaningful ceremonies; or, B) those who offer easy options at rock bottom prices. Professionals at many Golden Rule Funeral Homes understand that today’s successful funerals are as much about creating vivid memories of the deceased’s life as they are about helping families cope with loss.

The predictable line that once marked a “dignified funeral” has not only shifted, it’s now in a different spot for each and every person that walks through your funeral home’s front door. Baby Boomers, especially, need assurance that funeral professionals will set aside preconceived notions of what constitutes a “suitable” funeral and pinpoint where their lines are so their families can acknowledge their grief and honor their loved ones’ lives. And they must do it in ways that are a little less gloomy, a little more spirited, and a lot more memorable than other funerals they’ve experienced. If their local funeral director can’t provide such an experience, they’ll find someone who can.

After all, shouldn’t everyone be the star of their own funeral?

Does Funeral Service Have an Image Problem?

JFKFuneralJacqueline Kennedy once famously wrote that her aim was to be the “art director of the twentieth century.” Little did she know that some of the most enduring images she would help create would come from her husband’s funeral ceremonies after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. These images were so striking that they are etched in people’s minds as vividly today as they were 50 years ago. Those who have only seen photographs—many who weren’t born yet--feel as though they witnessed the proceedings: Black Jack the riderless horse with boots positioned backwards in the stirrups; six white horses pulling the caisson upon which the President’s flag-draped casket rested; John, Jr., donned in blue coat and shorts on his third birthday, saluting his father’s casket on its way to burial.

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Social Media: Who Needs It?

Betty WhiteA few years ago more than 500,000 fans of comedienne Betty White started a grassroots campaign on Facebook calling for her to appear on the late night television program Saturday Night Live. It worked. Ms. White was soon booked to host the May 9, 2010 show. After thanking Facebook users for their support in her opening monologue, she said “I didn’t know what Facebook was! And now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time!” 

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Will Mr. Hyde Save Dr. Jekyll?

 

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