People rarely want to have coffee with
me. At least at first. As a funeral director I’m a bit like a dentist. No one
is happy to see me but the services I offer are important and often urgent. And
yes, my services can be perceived as expensive, mysterious and depending on how
you feel about funeral directors, down-right shady.
When I greet you in the lobby I’m well
aware that I am likely meeting you on the worst day of your life. The families
I meet usually stagger in weighed down by shock, overwhelm and tremendous
suffering. Many come in perfectly put together but most are apologetic for
showing up in sweat pants.
I promise you: we don’t notice or judge
how you look.
We’re more interested in what happened,
why you’re here, who you want us to look after and what you want us to do. Most
funeral directors appreciate how the whole process can feel shady.
You’re sharing private and painful
information with a stranger who’ll eventually ask for your trust and your
money. It’s no wonder most people
decline politely when a funeral director offers a cup of coffee.
You don’t want a coffee. You want to
know if you can trust me. You want to know if I’m telling the truth. You want
to know if I’m going to rip you off or help you plan a service that, on some
level, helps you and your family grief.
So what’s the best way to figure out if
a funeral home – and funeral director – has your best interests at heart? Truth
is power so start small.
Accept the offer of coffee, tea or water
and before you share your story about what happened, ask your funeral director for
their story first. Asking questions breaks the ice, helps you feel more in
control and empowered, and reveals whether the funeral director is a fit for
you, your family and what you need.
Some powerful “coffee chat” ice-breaker
-Do you work on commission?
-Is this a chain or a locally-owned
-Are you a full-time funeral director or
a full-time salesperson?
-Will you be my main contact person at
the funeral home or will I never see you again?
One of the nastiest feelings in life is
to believe you have been cheated by someone you thought had your best interests
in mind. Most funeral directors are following a calling or vocation that came
to them at a young age.
Ask anyone at my funeral home why they
work in (freaky, weird, scary, get-teased-a lot) funeral services, they can
tell you the exact moment they wanted to become a funeral director. The
majority of our industry – pun alert – are lifers.
And no, we don’t do this work for the
money. We wear nice shoes, drive nice cars and work out of nice places as a
sign of respect for the dead and for people, like you, who want to mourn,
celebrate and grief the people we love and will forever miss. We’re a lot more
alike, you and me.
Now, would you like a cup of coffee?