Archive for June, 2012
For those of you that don’t know, Batesville, Indiana is the Mecca of the Funeral Industry as it houses the great Batesville Casket Company’s Headquarters.
I, and a group of 30 funeral directors from the Philly area, visited the hallowed ground of Batesville a couple years ago and was wined and dined on their guest estate over the course of a three day stay. When a group of 30 funeral directors get together, the time passes quickly as untold, gruesome and sometimes embellished stories flow as freely the alcohol.
Not only does Batesville have innovative caskets, good food and the like, they also apparently have a morbid sense of humor.
(special thanks to Joy Bennett for sharing the above photo with me)
One out of six fatal collisions occur because of distracted driving. Most distracted driving is somehow related to your cell phone.
So, if you want to support you local funeral director and Batesville, please text your friends and mummy while driving.
Are we rapidly moving toward a “Post-Funeral”culture?
I don’t think so.
After 50 years of steady decline in public attitudes towards funerals the pendulum is swinging back our way. Like Croci in the spring, the signs are poking through the frost if you will just look and this week’s post is one excellent example.
30 years ago a handful of brave pastors ignored the then-prevailing cultural surface signals and the revival we have come to know as the “mega-church” movement began. The common belief at the time was that people just weren’t religious any more. The actual reality was that many people had a deep need to grow in their faith, they just weren’t getting that need met by the traditional church. Those churches that reinvented their form to meet the need for a deeper relationship with god experienced both dramatic growth and equally dramatic cultural impact. If you are close to that movement you know that the founders changed the form while making the substance even stronger. They demanded things of their constituents who willingly responded that no mainline denomination pastor would dare ask.
I believe we have that same opportunity now as the anti funeral movement begins to lose its voice.
My friend Grant Mckenzie of Sarnia, Ontario shared an amazing article with me last week that illustrates my point well.
In response to the decision of a beloved elder to forgo a funeral, Pastor Edwin Searcy of University Hill United Church of Canada decided to conduct a study group on death in his church in Vancouver, BC. The results will surprise you. With his permission it is reproduced in PDF format in its entirety at the bottom of this page.
As a Christian Believer I found this a profoundly insightful article and a personal challenge to examine my own response to funerals in my church. It both strengthens my faith and challenges me to support my fellow believers in their time of need. Even if when I don’t know them or their family personally. Here are some excerpts from Rev. Searcy’s experience with his study group I think you will find interesting:
“They spoke of how empty it feels when there is no opportunity to gather to grieve…”
“Speaking about death in this way was a new experience in the congregation.”
“What really captured the interest of the gathered group were questions of how we as a congregation will deal with death when it occurs. It was as if we recognized intuitively that in the marking of death we are confronted with powers that seek to erase the church’s memory and entice it to abandon its daring witness.”
“If it is no great loss when someone dies, if it is possible to die and make no noticeable impact on the fabric of the church and the community, then the claims made at baptism are false. It is critical to the church that every death of one of its number be grieved.”
“A voice in the group questioned the way in which we decide whose funeral to attend…Death is not a private matter that affects only those who are friends and family. It is a public event that affects the whole church and calls the whole congregation together to grieve and to witness to the good news of god in the face of death.”
“Caring for the dying and for the dead is a practice that disciplines the church to wash the feet of the poorest of the poor.”
“Our elders need to unlearn their fear of becoming a burden, so that the whole congregation has the opportunity to respond to the call to serve and to carry our cross.”
“We noticed that by ignoring and silencing conversations about death we had unwittingly simply absorbed the assumptions of the culture we inhabit.”
“Our study group discovered we have simply adopted the ways in which our culture figures death out.”
There is a nascent global movement afoot to “bring death out of the closet”. As the last taboo subject “Boomers” the world over are determined to make death a healthy topic of conversation. Rev. Searcy’s study group is an excellent example of this movement.
So, here is what I would do:
- I would print out copies of Rev. Searcy’s article and give copies to each staff member and leave copies in my lobby for the public.
- I would make an appointment with every Christian clergy in town and share this article with them and offer to facilitate a discussion group with their church. (You can see a copy of the outline for the first session by clicking here)
- I would stop looking down on those funeral practitioners that view their job as a form of ministry because it appears that it really is.
I believe the public wants to talk. They will find an outlet. If not you then who?
Click the red lettering below to download the PDF file of Dr. Searcy’s comments.
In addition to the weekly Creedy Commentary, I frequently contribute to industry trade journals and speak at trade conventions. Among my affiliations outside the DeathCare industry are The Center For Creative Leadership, The Performance Institute and Human Synergistics. I believe in giving back and so was recently honored to serve as Chairman of the Funeral Service Foundation.
A week ago, CBS tweeted this:
Apparently, CBS was upset that ABC’s new “Glass House” was too similar to CBS’s “Big Brother”, so CBS sued ABC and issued this statement on it’s website as an EPIC insult to ABC’s “Dancing WITH the Stars”:
CBS ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF “DANCING ON THE STARS,” AN EXCITING AND COMPLETELY ORIGINAL REALITY PROGRAM THAT OWES ITS CONCEPT AND EXECUTION TO NOBODY AT ALL
Los Angeles, June 20, 2012 – Subsequent to recent developments in the creative and legal community, CBS Television today felt it was appropriate to reveal the upcoming launch of an exciting, groundbreaking and completely original new reality program for the CBS Television Network.
The dazzling new show, DANCING ON THE STARS, will be broadcast live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and will feature moderately famous and sort of well-known people you almost recognize competing for big prizes by dancing on the graves of some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-beloved stars of stage and screen.
The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 and now houses the remains of Andrew “Fatty” Arbuckle, producer Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paul Muni, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, George Harrison of the Beatles and Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, among many other great stars of stage, screen and the music business. The company noted that permission to broadcast from the location is pending, and that if efforts in that regard are unsuccessful, approaches will be made to Westwood Village Memorial Park, where equally scintillating luminaries are interred.
“This very creative enterprise will bring a new sense of energy and fun that’s totally unlike anything anywhere else, honest,” said a CBS spokesperson, who also revealed that the Company has been working with a secret team for several months on the creation of the series, which was completely developed by the people at CBS independent of any other programming on the air. “Given the current creative and legal environment in the reality programming business, we’re sure nobody will have any problem with this title or our upcoming half-hour comedy for primetime, POSTMODERN FAMILY.”
“After all,” the spokesperson added, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Sooooo … the thing is … I’d probably be more likely to watch “Dancing ON the Stars” than “Dancing WITH the Stars”. I so wish it wasn’t a joke. AND, I’d so watch POSTMODERN FAMILY.
Have you ever thought about how many people within your community know exactly which funeral home they would select if they had to make a decision today?
Do you know what funeral home you would want to work with if you were forced to plan a funeral today?
Working within the world of funeral planning, this is a topic that I think about quite often. I know what my own personal experiences are — but when I started to ask friends and family what they thought, it turned out that many of them actually didn’t know what funeral home they would turn to. In a way, this was surprising, as I used to assume that everybody simply had a go-to “neighborhood funeral director” that they turned to.
This got me thinking — just how many people are undecided as to which funeral home they would turn to if they had to plan a funeral right now?
Using Ask Your Target Market, an independent market research platform, my company asked the following question to over 600 individuals over the age of 35 located throughout the United States:
“If you were to plan a funeral service for a loved one, what best describes your current situation?”
I was pretty intrigued (although, based on my earlier conversations, maybe not too surprised) by the findings:
- Only 26.8% of respondents knew exactly which funeral home they would select.
- 22.7% of respondents had some idea of which funeral home they would select.
- The majority (50.5%) of respondents had no idea what funeral home they would select.
So what does this mean?
It’s apparent that some people do have relationships with funeral directors — and working with that funeral director when they’re in that time of need is a no-brainer for them. But out of the 600 people that we surveyed, more than 50% had no idea which funeral home they would work with. Perhaps it’s due to the way that many families move from city to city. Perhaps it’s a reflection of how younger generations are less loyal to certain businesses than their parents were. Perhaps it’s because choice-hungry Baby Boomers are coming of age to plan funeral services for their parents.
Whatever the reason is — it appears that times aren’t changing. In many ways, they’ve already changed.
Mike Belsito is an Internet entrepreneur from Cleveland, Ohio with a background in product innovation, ideation, and startup business development. Mike is the Co-Founder of eFuneral, a Cleveland-based online platform that helps connect funeral planners with the funeral homes that can best serve them. He also serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence for the City of Lakewood, Ohio — a 50,000+ residential community located in Northeast Ohio.
There’s a reason why so many choose to symbolize loss with a tattoo. When it comes to death, many of us try to forget, so that we can forget the pain … only to remember years later, that what we fought so hard to move past and “forget” is something we should really remember.
It’s an innate desire for humanity to remember what we can forget with symbols. It’s an innate desire for us to remind others with symbols.
In Judaism, observant Jews wear a phylactery around their heads and their wrists. It’s both for themselves and for others … in order that they (we) might remember.
Religion has always used symbols. And these symbols are often deemed as “holy” because of what they represent and what they remind us of.
Like religious symbols, there’s a sense that when tattoos are used to remember the dead, those tattoos are holy … maybe even just as holy as religious symbols. Memorial tattoos symbolize our heritage, our love, our loss in a way that we and others must remember what we too easily forget.
Here’s some examples of holy tattoos: