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In This Issue
Director's Line
Spring Conference news
The power to tax is the power to destroy
All er nuthin
Don't look for the easiest way to make the sale
Introducing Glass Art
Assorted Useful Links
Suppliers: Interested in advertising?
Bulletin Board: Now Hiring!

Vol. I, Issue VII

by Scott Sheehan, Evergreen-Washelli Memorial Park
& Funeral Home, Seattle

A letter from the future


Hello, this is the future calling! I will need the keys to your building. Yes, yes, I know it is quite distressing, but while you had your oxen mired in the mud of the past, I tried again and again to help you. Sorry, but I have my feet squarely planted in the promise of a brighter future. Be well, my friend, you fought a good, albeit confounding, confusing and perplexing fight... but the mud, also known as the success of the past, was simply too deep for you to escape...


Let's talk about the here and now. We are not alone. Every profession, every trade and every industry has its ebbs and flows, challenges, changes and turmoil. We also have our successes, our insights and our ability to innovate which allow us the opportunity to continually reinvent ourselves. Theodore Roosevelt stated: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you're at."


Do we recognize where we're at? Do we know what we have? If not, I am fearful of uncertainty and human nature leading us down the dreaded path of what we have always done vs. what we can (must) do in order to move forward.


Are you aware of the Funeral Service Foundation's research published in the fall of 2012 titled "A Study of the Market We are Losing."? If you haven't, I recommend you sit down with a nice hot cup of Open Your Mind herbal tea and wander through 82 slides of relevant information. You can find it on their web site here: http://www.funeralservicefoundation.org/


As with any research you can find flaws, you can question numbers, and you can use various filters of interpretation. I suggest you simply use one filter... your gut. Try to quiet the noise of what things used to be, what you wish they were, or the ever present "it's not that way where I come from". Simply use your gut and reflect the research information posed against what you have witnessed happening within our profession over the past several years. The consumer research tells a story in both words and pictures. The story is compelling. Today, more than ever before, you and I (Funeral Service and Cemetery Professionals) are clearly a consumer option - not a necessity, not necessarily a want, nor a desire - but an option.


We often get caught up in comparing ourselves against other cemeteries, funeral homes or nontraditional providers. The consumer of today that is walking through your door, calling your phone or clicking through your website uses a different yard-stick to measure you or your company. The consumer expectation is built on a foundation that exists outside your world. It is one built upon a plethora of experiences, influences, products and services that have nothing to do with you. Yes, what we provide is unique and often once in a lifetime...but the tools of comparison and expectation the consumer has onboard calls upon everything else they do in the retail and service world, outside of your walls.


Wilbert 4-2012  123.3 million people in the US (roughly half of all Americans) have or use a smart phone. The prediction for tablet sales for 2013 is roughly 173 million. The world is at our customers' finger tips. The best deals, the best reviews, the widest array of options - it is all there. The experience they had while at the Apple store, the barista that knows their name and their drink based on the season and time of day, the hospice worker that was certainly sent directly from heaven, the ability and anonymity to make life-altering choices and purchases all with the click of a mouse; this is your consumer, this is their yard stick.


Look at this foundation research, look closely at what the consumer thinks, feels and imagines about us.


Do I have immediate answers or solutions?...Heaven forbid! I once had an original thought, but it perished from loneliness in my head. I do however have a continued passion to learn, to gain understanding and insight as to what we can do to remain relevant and vibrant. What I do have and what I know we all have is the ability to leverage one another's knowledge, experience and willingness to fight, to never give up. As an association we must stare into the mirror and openly and honestly evaluate the image looking back at us. The ability to learn is the foundation of every other talent. Are we willing to learn what the customer is trying to teach us?


Only you get to decide when your life's work is done....


Time to do some learnin'...and some thinkin'... Now, go download the research, get your mind open and ponder the possibilities.


And be sure to attend the 20th annual WCCFA College of Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Studies on March 13 at the Lynnwood Embassy Suites. It's the best opportunity you'll find this year to get in on that future you're going to shape for yourself. More about the program below!


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"The Power to Tax is the Power to Destroy" - Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall - ca. 1818
By Paul Elvig


The Washington State Legislature recognized Justice Marshall's "power to destroy" observation in 1901when it specifically exempted dedicated cemetery land from property tax. (RCW 68.24.240) The Legislature was concerned about the long-term viability of cemeteries not operated by governmental taxing agencies. The debate at that time (as it should be today) was that non-governmental cemeteries will become a problem of local government in the event they financially drown in taxes. Good thinking, good governing!


Early legislators authorized local governments to charge "fees" charged for services provided and required, i.e. business licenses, water, sewer connections, etc. These obviously were not taxes. State law allows county, cities and towns to impose fees. (RCW 35.67.200-290) But, this was from a mindset dating back over a hundred years.


Batesville NEW 12-2012 Comes now, Waste Water Management fees. You think fees are not taxes ... think again. King County (always eager to lead the way) has put a new face to fees ... and it may not be long before your county says, "not a bad idea." Waste Water Management is now the environmental vogue. "Fees" are being assessed on all parcels of property recognized by the Assessor as a parcel, parcels including the tax exempt ones. We want waste water managed, don't we? So, what is waste water? Just check Title 9 of the King County Codes and Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 21.33. It's not what you think ... IT'S RAIN WATER RUN-OFF. Since when did rain become "waste?"


The BIG question King County cemeteries are asking is "What rain water runs off from a cemetery?" Really! Where's the runoff? Where are the floods of water that spring forth from tax exempt cemetery land? Cemeteries by their very nature absorb rain water ... happily so. It beats having to irrigate! And, we don't irrigate with "waste."


Cemeteries in the Seattle area have received "fee" statements connected to their property tax statements depending upon the size of the cemetery and parcel in amounts of $30,000 to $130,000, some higher, some lower. Yes you read it right! Attorneys who have looked at this tell us there is little cemeteries can do about it ... just pay up! The next big question, "With what?" What's a "small" 30-acre cemetery burying less than 50 a year to do?


Cemetery dynamics in King County (and elsewhere) have radically changed in the last half century. The early 1900s saw cremation at 3% of all dispositions. Now, over 70% and in some cases over 80% opt for cremation. That's right! Seven of every 10 deaths in Washington are now cremated. Where is the cash flow cemeteries need to operate and be above water...so to speak? Endowment funds fall far short of meeting the maintenance needs of the tax exempt cemetery.


PCM 1/2 page What is heartbreaking today is that in private conversations between cemeterians, cemeterians whose properties are burying less than 100 cases a year, you hear the un-thinkable discussion: "What if we have to shut down?" "Who will handle future burials, records and oversight of this cemetery?" Such conversions are not idle talk. They express genuine worry and concern for the immediate future.The cemetery barely breaking even, i.e. making zero to $70,000, profits cannot absorb $100,000 water runoff fees. Today there are not enough customers to whom to pass along the cost.


The Legislature must be approached ... approached soon for immediate relief from fees that strangle and cripple tax exempt cemetery land. Absent relief, laws need to address who (what governmental agency) takes over an "active" abandoned cemetery. In seeking change, will there be support of the State Funeral & Cemetery Board? Will local environmentalists become concerned about possible loss of open space? Will Senators and Representatives care? Will community leaders see the problem? Don't count on it! We hear, all too often, from many of the factions, "People should really be going to cremation." "We are running out of land aren't we?"


Tax exempt! What a good idea! The legislature a hundred years ago was very concerned about the issues cemeteries may face a century later - now, as it happens. But, today from clergy to environmentalists to the social "do-gooders," the talk is cremation. Have cemeteries become a nuisance? Should they just "go away?"


We are living in an age where ties to our family history are more distant than ever before. Are cemeteries really important to our society? We believe so ... but, are we in a small minority? What do we know? We're just the keepers and preservers of those histories.


In 1988 State Attorney General Ken Eikenberry stated in an opinion offered regarding short plats and "fees" charged, "Where counties, cities, and towns charge fees for short plats in amounts designed to cover the actual cost of administering a regulatory program, such fees are authorized by statute and are not an improper form of taxation. However, where fees for short platting are designed to raise revenue over and above the actual costs of administering the regulatory program, the fees are a form of taxation in excess of the local government's statutory taxing power." Was anybody listening? IS anybody listening?


Justice Marshall ... he knew what he was talking about. The "power to destroy" is real and is upon us.



"All 'er nuthin" is the wrong theme song for offering celebrant services


A celebrant is only useful when you have a family who seems allergic to the idea of a religious funeral, right? Wrong. Offering an "either/or" menu of celebrant/religious services shortchanges families - and your bottom line.


Those of us from Oklahoma are very proud of the famous Broadway musical of the same name. while it is not true that we still ride around on horses and bring guns to picnics and weddings, we still gt a little misty eyed when the famous title song revs up and we sing about the wind sweeping down the plain.


A less well-known song in the midst of all the cowboy stuff in the show is titled "All Er Nuthin." For those of you unfamiliar with western slang, that translates to "All or Nothing." It's kind of a cute throw-away song in the middle of the story where one of the characters tells his erstwhile girlfriend that she has to choose between being in a relationship with him fulltime or not at all.


Premier New Jan-13   For the 13 years we have been training, promoting and growing the concept of celebrant funerals in North America, that sentiment has been the pervasive theme that we hear from funeral professionals. That celebrants are only offered to the perfect Wiccan/atheist family who says they want absolutely no God, no Bible, no nothing in the service.


This view says that celebrants fit a very narrow niche, that celebrants are a novelty act only thought of when no one else will fit at all. At one of my services, the owner of the funeral home walked up and whispered to me, "You are a good fit for this funeral home because I think at one time in his life the deceased was an atheist."


Oh, really? The misconception is that celebrant-led funerals are an "all er nuthin" proposition, appropriate only when the family wants no mention of religion in the service.


Let me share with you an alternative (and appropriate) way to determine when a celebrant is a good choice for a family.


On a scale of 1 to 10


I was conducting staff training about celebrants and how to use them for a large funeral home in Ohio. The owner of the firm has a couple of celebrants on staff and wants the rest of his directors to understand what they do, how to offer their services to families and how to get out of the rut of reaching for the rent-a-minister file as soon as a family that they do not attend church and/or do not have someone they want to conduct the service.


matthews 3-2-12 During one of the training sessions, a staff person asked, "On a scale of one to 10, how religious does the family need to be before you do not offer a celebrant?"


For a moment, I did not know exactly how to answer the question because I had never thought of it in those terms before. I decided the real question being asked was, "Can a celebrant say prayers, read scripture and incorporate religious elements into a service, or should we call in a minister to take care of that?"


That seems to be what many funeral directors think, but is it true? Are celebrants good only for completely secular services? Aren't prayers best left to the professionals? The short answer: No.


In looking back at all the services I have conducted over the years, over 90 percent of the families have asked for some traditionally religious elements to be included. Whether that means saying an opening prayer, reading a particular passage from the Bible, playing of a hymn or ending with a blessing, people don't have to want a minister-led service to find comfort and meaning from those special pieces.


Ask any celebrant and he or she will tell you stories of sitting with families who were very specific and clear about not wanting any type of religious or church-related parts to the service and then asked for a scripture passage to be read and selected "Amazing Grace" as one of the songs to be played.


I recently did a service for a family who had no church affiliation and requested a celebrant for the service because they did not want a minister of any kind. During the family meeting, they told me that a long-time friend of the family was going to sing two songs, "The Lord's Prayer" and "Victory in Jesus," followed by the daughter of the deceased reading the 23rd Psalm. And then at the end of the service, everyone stood and sang his college fight song and we handed out black and orange ribbons to honor his passion for his university.


At a service I did for the tragic young man who died from a lifetime of drug abuse and a hail of police bullets, one would have assumed that there would have been no religious elements. But the mother of his children asked me to find a passage from scripture that spoke about a troubled soul. And at our closing, we all stood together and recited "The Serenity Prayer."


And so, my answer to the "scale of one to 10" question is simple: There is no scale. A family who wants to have a denominationally specific service probably is walking in with a minister and/or a church in mind, a church they attend or have some type of relationship with.


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Don't look for the easiest way to make the sale, look for the best way  


The opposite of making a sale the easy way isn't doing it the hard way, it's doing it the best way. It takes some work, but it gets results.


A Jethro Tull song released in 1969, "Nothing Is Easy," suggests that if you just take it easy, everything will be OK. This is an idea that obviously appeals to a lot of people, whether they're familiar with the lyrics or not. How many of us have heard that if we follow things "my" way (the successful company sales system) way, it will be OK?


I've had sales people ask me, "David, what's the easiest way to make a sale?" Here's the easy answer: "The easiest way to make a sale is lower your price to a point that you make no profit."


This is never a good option, but boy does it prevail in the funeral business. Time and time again, I'm confronted with price objections by potential clients who have shopped the market and, values be damned, have found a lowest-cost provider who will give them "no frills" death care.


But also I hear plenty about lowest-price providers who have gone out of business, "weren't there" when they were needed or up-sold emotionally vulnerable families at the time of need.


In my experience, there is no easiest way to make a sale, but there are best ways to make a sale. These best ways force you, the preneed sales counselor, to think through the entire sales process, delve into your communications toolbox and place yourself in harmony with the customer.


So, to paraphrase the Tull song:


Nothing is easy.

But if you take your life easy

And stop all that hurrying,

You'll find the best way.


The days of salespeople manipulating the customer - in any business - are over. That mentality of "finding the pain" and "forcing" the close does not lead to sales success. Consumers today are savvy. They want value from a company that has values, sold by a person who exudes those values.


Look into yourself and become at one with the values of your company. And if you find those values negative and not pro-consumer, get out and find someplace else to work.


There are many best ways to make a sale. My advice to sales managers is to convene a meeting of your sales team and discuss best practices. To help you get the conversation started, here are several which have worked for me:


Have your reputation precede you into your first meeting with a potential customer. You must zealously develop and maintain a positive reputation. Your word of mouth, your Google ranking and your social media presence canhelp generate sales. This applies to both you personally and to your company. Your potential customers will research your reputation.


There is the online presence you can't control (but you can overcome), such as unwarranted complaints published online. I've had prospective clients say to me, "I've read several complaints about your company."


LEES-4-2012 When I hear that, I ask, "Sir, did you say 'several?' We handle nearly 75,000 cremations a year." I then reach for my calculator. "Now, how many complaints did you read? Let's compute the percentage..."


However, there also is social media you can control. Do you treat LinkedIn and FaceBook as online resumes and substantiation of your personal achievements and positive qualities? Do you post references on LinkedIn? Does your company have video brochures or infomercials on YouTube? Do you blog, tweet or have a personal website?


Recently I closed a sale because the son of a prospective customer looked me up on LinkedIn and decided I had the credentials and character of the type of person from whom he'd like to purchase his father's preneed plan.


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The photo depicts a project completed late 2012 at Holyrood Catholic Cemetery in Seattle Washington. The objective was to produce a near duplication of a portrait we were given for Our Lady of Sorrows. This particular project was unique as it solved a problem..."How do we use a blank wall with no depth to create a marketable space that is beautiful and functional?" Oregon Memorials employed a blend of technique and product to produce these 4" thick niches holding 220 cu in urns. The shutters are Jerusalem Gold marble trimmed with Classic Verdi marble. The Glass Art® image of Our Sorrowful Mother was applied to a 2cm slab of green granite.


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PreneedBest Way 


My Neptune Society office consistently receives calls from people who viewed our "story" on YouTube about the Neptune Reef off the Florida coast and want to know how they can be interred there. The video also enhances our credibility as a socially and environmentally responsible company.


Sure, there are plenty of octogenarians who don't know how to turn on a computer, but some do, and the baby boomers have a growing sophistication regarding online media. I'm amazed when I walk into restaurants and coffee shops and see the number of senior citizens reading from iPads, tablets and smartphones.


The new media are here. The number of inquiries we receive via the Internet is growing. Our potential customers are embracing new media as a research tool and checking you out before you even knock on their door.


Be known as a valued and friendly resource. Do you know everything about veterans' affairs? Have you read up on grief counseling? Do you know what the competitive offerings are?


Here's what I do: I make one-sheet papers about topics such as "Cremation and Catholicism," "Your Veterans' Benefits," "A Company You Can Trust: Here's Why." I even created a "fun" piece listing all the deceased celebrities who've used Neptune Socieyt.


I clip newspaper and magazine articles and turn them into sales leave-behinds for private distribution only. Recently there have been two great articles about funeral services and cremation in The New York Times and USA Today.


Each sales piece is proffered to ameliorate objections and is slugged with my company's logo and my contact information. Now I'm known not only as valued and friendly but also as informed and passionate about the product I sell. I take the extra step to earn the status of trusted advisor.


Koppenberg 1/4 page Meet with the actual decision-maker. Who writes the checks in the family? Are you meeting with both husband and wife? Do the kids need to be involved? Do not waste your time make presentations to the person who does not control the decision.


Value your time; try to always to a one-call close. Of course sometimes this is just not practical. For instance, if the person says "I want to talk to my kids," then ask for their names and numbers and/or find out when the conversation will take place and make an appointment to come back.



For those of you who want to try another trial close in this situation, here's a line one of my sales reps has used: "I understand you want to speak with your children, but wouldn't it be better to tell them what you've done to make their lives emotionally and financially easier when you're gone, rather than ask their permission?" The client agreed and the sale was closed.


Don't act like a "know-it-all," or be cocky or condescending. Relax throughout the warm-up and the entire sales presentation. Try to make the customer feel like the smartest person in the room. Find some common ground before you start the selling process.


How probing is your warm-up? Discuss things you both know about. Take that commonality and implement it into your plan discussion. Ask intelligent, emotionally engaging questions that draw out both needs and buying motives.


Discuss what motivated the customer to make an appointment with you, and then turn that motivation back toward the previous points discussed that promote commonality with you, your company and your plan.


If you answer an objection with a question or retort, as I did in some of the examples above, change the tone of your voice; become gentler, not confrontational. The right tone and modulation can cause people to be more attentive to your presentation.


Present ideas that favor the customer. Know the full breadth of your offerings and the business climate within which you function. Develop a plan in your mind during the warm up.


Lead the customer toward endorsing and executing your plan throughout the discussion. Convey the value of your plan rather than its features and benefits, and then focus on outcomes and ownership.


While respecting the value of the customer's time (and yours as well), make sure you answer all questions and potential objections in your presentation. At the end of your presentation, the client must feel an unwavering sense of commitment to the plan you preented. Why? Because if spoken to correctly, he will feel it is his plan.


Ask for the order. If you don't ask, you don't receive. Throughout the presentation, even in the warm up, you should have been doing trial closes.


I always want to feel that I've trial-closed and then asked for the order numerous times. But I always do it in a way that "asks" or promotes agreement. That is, I'm always testing the ideas I've put forth and, most important, asking for commitment to move forward.


You will be successful in getting the order when you:

  • Create an atmosphere in which the customer wants to buy.
  • Transfer the passion of your belief in your company and yourself.
  • Are certain you have removed all risks and removed barriers from your prospective customer's buying process.


Finally, ask yourself, "Am I always doing my best for every customer, every time?" Your preneed customers do not need a salesperson. What they need is a superior product and a company with great service provided by a trusted and empathetic advisor. Do you exude those "best" characteristics? Is that you?


Remember and just say to yourself: "Nothing is easy... I'm successful doing things the best way."


Author David Minkow is sales manager, southwest Florida, for Neptune Management Corp., Planation, FLA. Among many accomplishments he is a preneed sales agent and licensed real estate associate in Florida. This article is sourced from the January 2013 ICCFA Magazine in its entirety with permission.


Celebrants Celebrants, continued

But many people in the growing segment of the population who identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious" do not want to avoid religious components that might be comforting and appropriate to their lives and their loved ones.


What they want to avoid is that minister who gives the same funeral every time, or gives an alter call or preaches them into heaven. When they say their loved one did not want a funeral, what they are referring to is the impersonal "same song, second verse" experience that is the only point of reference they have for what a funeral can be.


Celebrants can accommodate any requests, needs or selections the family has, including religious ones. Yes, we can pray. Yes, we can read scripture. Yes, we can introduce "Victory in Jesus." Our mantra is clear, focused and unwavering: We are here to meet the needs of the family. Every family.


The service before the service


There are a growing number of firms who are finding a great opportunity to fulfill both needs, especially for families who are planning a liturgical funeral service.


Pontem new 9-2012 The Catholic Mass or the prayers of the Episcopal service can be meaningful and special for a family. However, in most cases, those types of services preclude the inclusion of personal stories, a video tribute, favorite songs and other personalized elements. Don't Catholics also need healing memories and words? Why not offer the best of both worlds?


Celebrants can put together a personalized funeral/tribute service that is presented the night before the church service. This can be in place of a rosary service or wake, or can be held during visitation.


Placing a line in the obituary that reads "The family will be receiving visitors on Thursday 5-7 p.m., a tribute service to honor the life of Jane Doe will be held 7-8 p.m.; the Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Charles Church at 10 a.m. on Friday," can let people know that something special will be taking place at your place of business that might be worth attending.


I recently had the opportunity to do just such a service for a family. Their mother had grown up in the Catholic Church and had been very active in her earlier years. As she aged, she quit attending and actually become involved in a Methodist church. But she had been quite adamant that she wanted Mass celebrated when she died.


 However, her daughters wanted a chance to tell stories, to create a special moment of memories, to have a video tribute and to play the music of their choice.


So, about 150 people gathered the evening before the church service for a celebrant-led funeral. We told the story of her life, we handed out Scrabble tiles because she had been such an avid player and, at the end, we all stood up and sang "The Fishy Song," because she had sung it to her three daughters when they were growing up. The next day, family and friends attended the Mass and came away from the experience knowing they had honored this unique woman in every way possible.


Many funeral professionals will attest to the fact that it is becoming more difficult to find priests or deacons who are willing or available to attend wake or rosary services. Using a celebrant to create a personalized and touching service before the liturgical experience is a wonderful way to meet all the needs of a grieving family.


Sharing the stage


In some cases, I have led services that included the clergy rather than organizing a service completely separate from the religious one. Some examples:


The service was for a 31-year-old gay hairdresser who had died from a suspected drug overdose while visiting his parents one weekend. He was a beloved and loving person with 500 30-somethings who came to say goodbye to their friend who was gone too soon.


His mother had grown up Catholic and had had him baptized as an infant. Life got in the way and she left the church. However, when she walked into that bedroom and saw her only son dead, her first thought was to call a priest to administer last rites. Some beliefs and rituals in our lives never leave us.


The family requested a celebrant to perform the service because they wanted his big, wonderful life story told. But the mother wanted a priest to say the final prayers and blessing.


The funeral home contacted one of the retired priests in the area, who agreed to come to the service. This sweet man of the cloth sat on the platform with me for the entire service.


I have to tell you, I was just a little nervous as I told the story of this adventuresome man, who came out during high school, who had a life partner of eight years, who worked as a make-up artist in Hollywood before coming back to be a premiere and outlandish hair designer in our city.


We played the Beatles' "Let It Be" and Rufus Wainwright's version of "Hallelujah." I had no idea how my priest companion was handling all of this; he was sitting behind me, so I couldn't gauge his reaction.


When his turn came, he was perfectly gracious and kind. He had asked the mother what her son's saint was and spoke for a few minutes about the deceased's life and how it related to his saint. He said the prayers and closed the service with a blessing.


I sat there on the podium waiting. As soon as the final amen was pronounced, he whipped around to face me. "Here it comes," I thought. Imagine my surprise when the first words out of his mouth were, "How did you do that? That was incredible, and I have no idea of how to do something like that!"


I smiled and said, "Come to our training and I'll teach you how to do that."


Though he had been to the house only a couple of times during the deceased's final days, the family had really connected with the hospice chaplain and asked that he be a part of the service.


The chaplain read a passage of scripture the family had selected and offered an opening prayer. Then he sat on the podium with me through the rest of the service, as he was going to be involved in the graveside service, as well.


When the service was completed, he said, "I need to get your card. There are so many families we serve in hospice that I am not equipped to serve at their funerals. I am comfortable with any type of religious service, but have no idea where to start for a service like this."


The deceased had grown up as the daughter of an evangelical tent revival preacher but had long ago left that life. At the time of her unexpected death, she had not attended church for years. The family asked that one of her father's life-long friends - and fellow evangelical minister - have a chance to speak at the service.


I told the story of her life, the family had a wonderful video tribute, we handed out smiley face stickers and asked each person to honor her memory by smiling at others. And then it was time for the preacher.


I sat down with trepidation, because I truly did not know where the service would go from there, and the family had been very specific about not wanting anything in the service about religion.


The friend and minister got up and grabbed the microphone and, in his best preach-em-into-the-aisles voice, said "Wasn't that a wonderful service? I don't think I have anything else to say except that we will all miss Jane every day for the rest of our lives." And then he sat down. Really! He. Sat. Down.


Lesson learned: Make celebrant services a mainstream offering


So, what have we learned from these stories? There can always be a mixture of the secular and religious. Celebrants can share time, podium and platform space with any clergy the family would like to include in the service.


Often ministers have a great appreciation for the time, effort and skill celebrants put into services and wish that they had the same experience and training. Often they recognize their limitations and comfort levels and are thrilled that someone is there to fill that gap, to go where they are not willing to tread. Sometimes we can render them speechless!


And so, I hope you can see that it doesn't have to be "all er nuthin." Having celebrants available creates limitless opportunities for expanding your service offereings.


But you have to make a celebrant-led service one of the first options you present to families rather than a last desperate pitch you make before the family walks out the door. You have to present it as an option any family might want to use, rather than reserving for the times when the family says, "we don't want a religious service."


Celebrants can share, collaborate, enhance or supplement services to fit just about any family who might walk into your arrangement room. Your families, your community, your staff and your bottom line will thank you for it.


Article by Glenda Stansbury, CFSP, who is vice president of marketing for In-Sight Books, Oklahoma City, Okla. She is a licensed funeral director and embalmer and trains people as Certified Celebrants. Her article is sourced from the January 2013 ICCFA Magazine and is reprinted in its entirety with permission.  


Assorted Useful Links


Washington State Funeral and Cemetery Board


WSFDA: Washington State Funeral Directors Association


ICCFA: International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association


CANA: Cremation Association of North America


NFDA: National Funeral Directors Association


CAO: Cemetery Association of Oregon


OFDA: Oregon Funeral Directors Association


MBNA: Monument Builders of North America


PNMBA: Pacific Northwest Monument Builders Association 



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Bulletin Board




Combination memorial park, funeral home, on-site crematory and reception center offering an opportunity for a self-motivated, competent team-worker to assist us with our before-need and aftercare programs. We offer an excellent opportunity for follow-up, file uploads and a staff that believes in pre-funding options. Aggressive commission schedule for funeral and cemetery. Email resumes to kirk@hawthornefh.com or call 360-424-1154 to schedule a time to visit.


Kirk S. Duffy, Funeral Director/President

Hawthorne Funeral Home, On-Site Crematory and Memorial Park - Mount Vernon, Washington

Gilbertson Funeral Home - Stanwood, Washington

Stanwood Cemetery Association, Inc. - Stanwood, Washington

Hawthorne Pet Loss Service and Crematory - Mount Vernon, Washington



Do you have a job opening you need to fill? A piece of equipment to sell? Text advertisements are FREE in the Insider. Just click on the Bulletin Board logo to email your ad to the WCCFA and watch for it in our next Insider.
16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012 
P: 360-668-2120 or 888-522-7637 F: 360-282-6535 

THE WCCFA INSIDERis published by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. News articles and press releases are welcome and are published on a space-available and suitability basis.


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