When it comes to customers funeral directors are often the nicest people. But being nice and being kind are two different things. It takes courage to be kind. There is risk to it. You don’t really have to be more than just agreeable to be nice. Smile, never say anything bad about anybody and NEVER, EVER be controversial or confrontative. But to do this you don’t need to care…really care….about people. You just have to be diligent in avoiding conflict.
Being kind takes skill, tact and most of all a true desire to help people. You really have to care. You can be nice but not kind. You cannot be kind and NOT care. The difference is caring. You see, caring causes you to want people you care about to do what is best for them. and that means helping them avoid mistakes. It means sometimes having the courage to risk conflict to point out where their actions might cause regrets.
As experts in death care you know what is right and wrong. What will help and what has potential for harm. Being kind is about informing people of the risks of a given action. Two examples:
- We all know that an hour’s visitation prior to a funeral rarely works. People don’t show up until the last minute, the family doesn’t have time to interact with everyone they want to and they are forced to endure 45 minutes of anxiety worrying about whether anyone is coming. We should tell them that and make suggestions that might remedy the situation like a brief reception (2 hours) following the service.
- We all know that cremation families often experience a need to permanently memorialize their loved one. Unfortunately, they usually don’t realize this until weeks, months or years after the death. When a family tells you they want to scatter the ashes (that’s the word they use) we should warn them of this risk. We should offer options like reserving some of the ashes in case there is a need to permanently memorialize.
Basically, being kind is telling people the truth…even if they don’t want to hear it. You will be surprised how much people appreciate you for it.