I apologize that we make our job of conducting funeral services look so simple. Funeral professionals take care of the details of a funeral, memorial, Family Affirmation Service©, or life celebration so the family doesn’t have to. We do it so well that we make it look simple. Perhaps that is why some bereaved families say, “thank you, but we will do it ourselves.” Their Do It Yourself decision may add more stress to the family and friends at a time when they need to reduce stress levels.
The funeral professional’s help is best illustrated by the parable Footprints in the Sand. In the parable an individual chastised The Lord for abandoning them at the worst times of their life because they observed only one set of footprints in the sand.
The Lord responded that “at those times I was carrying you.” That is exactly what we do as a funeral professional. We take care of all the background details, we in effect, carry you through the services so all you have to do is be present to accept the help and support of those who attend. This includes all of the family, not just the widow, children and siblings. We take care of the details of a funeral or memorial so the family, and friends don’t have to.
A great illustration is our family wedding last summer. We had a few do it yourself details that sounded simple at first. As the week of the wedding approached I spent so much time on those tasks that I was not able to be present with my family and the wonderful things that were happening that week.
We have heard similar responses from families who have forgone our help for funeral or memorial services. During our Aftercare appointments they tell us how much work it turned out to be and the additional stress it caused for them. They needed a supportive hug rather than more stress.
The reality is that well intentioned friends, church volunteers or staff, if available, will still need to be directed. In some cases this may be done by the clergy who may graciously volunteer to direct the volunteers and office staff, however that places another level of stress on the clergy who are tasked with creating a meaningful funeral service or celebration for the bereaved family.
In most cases the DIY family takes on the role of directing the volunteers and guests. Extended family, and close friends who may be called upon to help may feel honored to be distracted by taking care of tasks. That distraction, however, robs them of the chance to be supportive of family members. The express purpose of those who attend a visitation or service is to support the grieving family. Not to be directed by them.
It is summed up in the words of some of the families we have taken care of. As they look through the names of those who attended the services and signed the register book, they often remark, “I didn’t see that person was there during the visitation! I would have appreciated talking with them.” Imagine how many more people would they have missed if they had been distracted by directing the proceedings? That is why we take care of the details, so the family can remain present and accept the support from those who are there.
As I said before, many of my colleagues make the job of a funeral director, or funeral creationeer, look simple. However, I won’t apologize for the fact that the work we tirelessly perform behind the scenes makes the life of the grieving family easier at the worst time of their lives.