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Thank You – An Open Letter to Funeral Directors

As I was preparing for my final year of college for marketing communications, I began looking for the perfect placement to conclude with. After a few months of searching for placement opportunities, nothing really stood out. Finally, my program coordinator passed along information about FrontRunner Professional, and suggested that I would be fascinated by the industry. After a few days of industry research, I reached out to the team, and they agreed to have me on as a placement student for six weeks. I am now just over three weeks in, and I have been loving every second of it.  

But what makes the death care industry so fascinating? 

Growing up in a family with so many relatives, I had to attend funerals all the time. In fact, I attended three wakes and funerals within just two months when I was ten years old. I attended so many of these that it started to feel like a routine. These were not events that I enjoyed being at, but they did help me gain appreciation for the friends who dropped in to support me through the difficult time.  

It wasn’t until this placement began, however, that I started to see the full capabilities of the modern-day funeral director. I was aware of the difference between funerals and celebrations of life as well as burial and cremations, but I had no idea about the technology and behind the scenes details that go into serving families.

I’ve begun to understand the tools that we provide our clients, and why they were created. I’ve also been impressed to see how funeral homes are adjusting the way they operate to adapt and continue to serve families through this time. As somebody who values great customer service, I’ve been very impressed at how much effort goes into serving a family. Simplifying the process for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one is a sign of compassion and empathy, which is something this world could always use more of.  

Bad timing solidified my new beliefs about the modern-day funeral industry 

Unfortunately, just at the end of my first week of placement with FrontRunner, my grandmother passed away. I took a couple days off to attend her services with my family, where we ran into a major roadblock. My sister, who lives and works in Belgium, was planning a flight to Canada to attend the services and grieve with the family. This was just a few days before the government began shutting down businesses and encouraging social distancing due to COVID-19. She had to cancel the flight because of the concern caused by this pandemic, leaving her feeling isolated and leaving us feeling terrible for her. This is where the funeral staff came in to save the day. 

During the final hours of the wake, the night before the funeral, our family began stressing about leaving my sister in the dark and without the ability to say her final goodbyes. Since my siblings and I all had a special role in the services, we would be unable to stream them for her. Luckily, the funeral home caught wind of the situation, and one of the employees set up a video call with her for the ceremonies. His efforts allowed her to be present in some way with us and gave her the opportunity to say her final goodbyes. This was a truly outstanding move by the staff member, and it will not be forgotten by my family. 

Funeral homes have been able to adapt to major changes in order to meet their families needs 

During this time of crisis caused by COVID-19, funeral directors have been put to the test. Now that there are only a few people allowed to attend memorial services and funerals during social distancing, funeral professionals have had to adapt and use new digital tools in order to serve their clients properly. This means live streaming memorial services for those who cannot attend, arranging funerals with clients from a distance to avoid travel, and offering online grief support and care. 

This type of work is not at all what the average person thinks it’s like. Families must continue to be served properly, and this has not changed. You’re finding solutions to keep the service meaningful and going above and beyond to do this. So thank you for all that you are doing to continue serving your communities. As someone relatively new to this industry, your work during these uncertain times is very much appreciated.

I have walked away from placement every day with a feeling of pride knowing that the work I’m helping contribute to will help funeral homes better-connect with their clients and get them through a difficult time. I think that is why everyone at the FrontRunner office is so positive and approachable. Everyone here sees the value in what what you’re doing to serve families and why we need to support that.

There will likely be many new challenges in the coming weeks, but I know that funeral service is ready to keep moving forward. This incredibly unique time has granted me the opportunity to see this industry’s incredible ability to adapt to uncontrollable situations without faltering. 

This placement opportunity has not only developed my marketing skills but also expanded my knowledge about a wild and exciting industry. This has easily been the best learning I’ve had. 

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