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President's Message - No Script for Fulfilling The Family's Wishes

By: Kenneth A. Cahall, OFDA President

President's Message
No Script for Fulfilling The Family's Wishes

We have been doing a lot of remodeling at our home this winter and we spent part of this past weekend in the usual home improvement mega stores. While we were searching for what we needed I noticed an area that had the "How To" books to do about everything. Plumbing, electrical, flooring etc, Then I thought about other "How To" books. How to use a computer, lose weight, invest money. It sounds like a good idea to use these step by step books, but they don't always cover all the angles.

We as funeral directors discovered a long time ago there isn't a script for funerals. How to handle death, grieving and memorialization cannot be put down into a step by step, "How To" book. As we work with families in our funeral homes, we are ever conscious of letting families express themselves and of conforming to their wishes. We are each different and our ways of handling the deaths of family and friends will be different too. We are not critical of their choices and are respectful of differences in beliefs and practices. We do, however, offer guidance to those families in planning funeral services.

A new edition of Emily Post's Etiquette, which defines etiquette as "a code of behavior based on thoughtfulness," contains a chapter on how to deal with death and grieving. It begins with this introduction. "As they have in every culture from the beginning of time, the rituals observed after the death of a loved one or friend salve our grief. All religions hold that the soul or spirit is sacred and that the embodiment of that spirit deserves respectful and ceremonious treatment." Yet things change in time, and the trend in recent years has been to both mourn and to celebrate a life. The result is services are more customized to reflect the person's personality, interests and accomplishments.

More and more of the families that we serve today are deciding what type of funeral or memorial service they should have, then taking an active part in planning it. It only makes sense that the choices everyone finds the most comforting are more important than following the "How To" step by step guide of planning funerals. As funeral professionals we must see that the families wishes are fulfilled.

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