You often hear the word ‘aftercare’ used in relation to the recovery from addiction. And while the particulars of rehabilitation aftercare may be quite different from those of funeral aftercare, the goal of both is the same: to support the individual in learning a new way to live.
In one case, it’s about how to live without the object of their addiction; in providing client families with funeral home aftercare you’re helping grief-stricken survivors learn to live well without the physical presence of the deceased. In both cases, practical coping strategies are coupled with emotional and spiritual support.
If you search online for funeral home aftercare, you’ll find there’s a wide range of funeral home aftercare programs.
Owen Funeral Home offer a similar set of aftercare resources to their community: individual counseling, support groups, education programs, a lending library, annual remembrance service, and an interesting, very meaningful program, the Remembrance Quilt.
There’s something else: the “Rollin’ with Owen” program of field trips hosted by the funeral home. Most commonly though, funeral home aftercare amounts to far less; little more than the online resources provided to them by the website hosting company in question. And that’s a problem: funeral homes not offering aftercare are at a decided disadvantage.
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Why is Funeral Home Aftercare Important?
Connie Haymes, of the Order of the Golden Rule, weighed in on the reasons why a funeral home should offer funeral aftercare in the 2015 post, “5 Reasons Why Aftercare Programs Matter”. The first reason is perhaps the most aware and compassionate: many grieving families and individuals really need ongoing support.
Family needs aside, according to Ms. Haymes, there are other good arguments for establishing a funeral aftercare program: they bring people to your facility during relatively non-stressful events. Funeral aftercare, when opened to the wider community, gives you the chance to meet new people, all of whom are potential customers. One more thing: funeral home aftercare programs give you (and your community) a rare opportunity to talk about and affirm the worth of life.
Barb Bloomquist, author of the 2015 Homesteader’s Life post, “4 Ways Aftercare Can Help Grow Your Funeral Home Business”, adds this to our list of reasons why your funeral home should develop a program of funeral aftercare: you’ll differentiate your funeral firm from the competition, build brand awareness – and more importantly – brand loyalty.
Funeral aftercare programs demonstrate an on-going commitment to the well-being of individuals living in the community. Also, “people that have a positive experience with your funeral home are more likely to recommend you to their friends and family, and these third-party endorsements carry much more influence than advertising messages.”
Adding a robust funeral aftercare program to your services will do one more important thing: differentiate you from other funeral homes in your area. (There’s a suggestion buried in there: investigate what funeral aftercare services are offered by your competition and go one or two steps further in your funeral home aftercare.
When Planning Funeral Aftercare Events Think “Outside the Box”
The value of grief support groups aside, it can be worth to your funeral home to consider out-of-the-ordinary funeral aftercare. You’ll find oodles of great funeral aftercare ideas (and real-life examples) in the 2015 ASD post “It’s A Life and Death Situation: 8 Aftercare Ideas to Connect with Your Community”. Here are just a few to inspire and motivate:
- The McComas Funeral Home in Abingdon, MD has, for a number of years, co-sponsored the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. (Read “Community Outreach” for particulars on all the firm’s aftercare events.)
- In 2014, Eline Funeral Home in Hampstead, MD held a food drive for their town food pantry, matching all donations.
- Grace Funeral & Cremation Services in Rockford, Illinois holds a Valentine’s Day luncheon for widows and widowers every year. Read “Grace Funeral & Cremation Services to host Valentine’s Day Lunch” for more on this sweet social event.
Other suggestions include practical life-skills assistance (such as balancing a checkbook, filing for social security benefits, or cooking for one); Holiday memorial programs, concerts, and field trips can go a long way in helping people over the holiday-related ‘rough spots’ in bereavement. Scrapbooking and quilt-making classes, and art shows (featuring the work of local artists) are also ideas worth considering.
Don’t Let Funeral Aftercare Be an Afterthought
When you’re ready to explore funeral aftercare programs in greater depth, we suggest reading our June post, “How to Provide Effective Grief Support for the Families You Serve”. The last paragraph reinforces the value of funeral home aftercare programs.
Each social event you host, every grief support group, every educational seminar, is a priceless opportunity to create strong, long-lasting relationships with members of your target audience.
Providing a funeral aftercare program which goes above and beyond the standard “online resources” offered by many funeral homes is, in the words of Ms. Bloomquist, “a natural extension of the relationship you’ve formed with these families and helps to strengthen that bond, creating satisfied customers willing to share their experiences with others.”
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Kim Stacey is a licensed funeral director, certified grief counselor, and holds a Master’s Degree in Anthropology. She is currently a professional freelance writer specializing in developing unique search engine optimized content and copy for funeral homes, cemeteries, and industry suppliers. You can reach out to her for comment or conversation at [email protected].
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