Update on ad campaign
The results of the survey we sent out recently regarding a possible ad campaign sponsored by the WCCFA are in, and the members have spoken. At least, the few who responded. Fully half of them said they would not participate in the campaign in any shape or form. Due to the initial expense to fire up a campaign, and the general sense of apathy on the part of the membership, the board has decided to shelve the idea for the time being. If more interest surfaces the ideas can be re-explored.
We worked with two advertising agencies and both submitted excellent proposals. Both have experience with our profession and I would recommend either of them:
n Katz was a guest speaker at this year's Annual Convention.
Our Web site is now actively undergoing a complete re-design and re-branding using our new logos and colors. It will also be written in newer more user-friendly code that will make it much more dynamic. We are exploring the best way to list members for ease of contact by the public, and are investigating offering a supplier-of-the-month ad marquee program that could bring in a little more revenue.
If any of you are technically inclined and would like to volunteer as a "Web master" for the WCCFA please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Cemeterian's Best Friend,
By Paul Elvig, Cemetery Law Expert-at-Large
STATUTES YOU MAY NOT HAVE
READ OR THOUGHT ABOUT
Have you heard this one before? "How can I be assured that our kids or even grandkids will not come along and change what we are doing ... we don't want any of them burying additional remains in our special burial site?" (As my mother would say, "Your kids and my kids fighting our kids.") This kind of question comes up more and more as we deal with the new normal for a lot of families: second and third (or more!) marriages.
There is an answer provided that your cemetery might wish to consider in RCW 68.32.160 Conveyance of plot or right of interment to cemetery authority, effect. A cemetery authority may take and hold any plot or right of interment conveyed to it by the plot owner so that it will be nontransferable. Placements shall be restricted to the persons designated in the conveyance. Notice the word "may"!
If your cemetery so wishes, it may accept title transferred (back) to it with restrictions that the transferring party wishes to impose. This is much like a party selling commercial property with restrictions, i.e. no taverns, etc. Families who buy, say, 4 graves, using the two center graves for burial, wishing to keep the two "end ones" forever free of burials, can thus keep such as a private oasis within a multitude of burials. They can assure themselves the descent of title provision of the law will not occur as the ownership has been returned to the cemetery with restrictions attached. If you are willing to accept such, note within your records that the title is now owned by XYZ Cemetery and has a 'no further burials' or 'sales restriction' as a condition of transfer. Treat such as a regular transfer of title so that further generations can't line up for a descent of title.
When does a person "lose" their vested right? The following statute is a little confusing because the word "may" appears in an odd way within a sentence seeming to direct what will happen when the vested owner is buried elsewhere. RCW 68.32.140 Termination of vested right by waiver: "A vested right of placement may be waived and is terminated upon the placement elsewhere of the remains of the person in whom vested." "May be waived and is terminated" could be read several ways. Don't take changes. Using your rules and regulations, address issues like these where the law appears confusing.
Who's representing whom ... you? RCW 68.32.100 addresses the problem of multiple owners, even a half-dozen or so. The following RCW shields the cemetery from liability should one of several owners authorize a burial without the consent of the other owners. This is a critical piece of protection for cemeteries as we so often run into "owners" scattered all over the country or having divorced one another. RCW 68.32.100 Co-owners may designate representative. "When there are several owners of a plot or right of interment, they may designate one or more persons to represent the plot or interment right and file written notice of designation with the cemetery authority. In the absence of such notice or of written objection to its so doing, the cemetery authority is not liable to any owner for permitting the placement in the plot or right of interment upon the request or direction of any co-owner of the plot or right of interment."
"We have decided to bury Mom's remains on Dad's grave ... It will be so nice to have them joining one another again." Heard this one before? Be sure that your rules and regulations address the matter of a person buried who holds a vested right to the spot of burial as to what additional authorization may be made. Read carefully the following: RCW 68.32.150 Limitations on vested rights. "No vested right of interment gives any person the right to have his or her remains interred in any interment space in which the remains of any deceased person having a prior vested right of interment have been interred." Again: No vested right of interment gives any person the right to have the remains of more than one deceased person placed in a single space in violation of the rules and regulations of the cemetery in which the space is located. Take a close look at the forgoing statute. Over-looking or over-riding it may be a law suit waiting to happen should a forever angry brother be involved. Guess who gets sued? Deep pockets! I know, you don't have deep pockets. All the more reason to educate yourself on these RCWs.
And when that accountant or attorney is asking of you the value of unused graves at the time an estate is being settled the following RCW should be pointed out. RCW 68.32.170 Exemption from inheritance tax. Cemetery property passing to an individual by reason of the death of the owner is exempt from all inheritance taxes. This little footnote to cemetery law has not been changed in 70 years. It is surprising how many attorneys are not aware of it!
Again, editor reiterates: Don't be bullied by a know-it-all (or know-very-little) attorney, either. If your common sense gives rise to questions about instructions an attorney may be giving you, ask for the specific citation in the RCW that grants him the authority to so direct.
Next in line we will deal with the most exciting of all, Order of Interment - General.
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Offering a grief support program is good for business and your families
Putting some effort and imagination into a robust aftercare program can help families, forge strong community bonds and keep your funeral home or cemetery top-of-mind with families.
The funeral ran without a hitch. The interment was smooth and trouble-free. The family has gone on to their funeral meal with family and friends. Our job is done. Another successful funeral and burial has taken place. Nothing left to do but a little paperwork and putting down grass seed. We go home with the satisfaction of knowing that we have helped another family during a difficult time and secure in the thought that they will turn to us again when our services are needed.
This is the approach many funeral homes and cemeteries take. Work with a family for a short, intensive moment in time and then on to the next family who calls. The family may appreciate your kind support and caring professionalism, but what if you could take what you do for them a step further?
Wouldn't you like to create lasting relationships with those you serve? Wouldn't you like to be the place they mention when talking to their family and friends about where to go for support through the entire grieving process? Even better, wouldn't you like to build relationships with area churches, hospitals, hospices and other professionals? Get free positive publicity? Have access to a wide variety of groups? Build your preneed lead list? Feel good knowing you are doing the right thing? You can accomplish all of these goals with an aftercare program.
Going beyond one service or a card
With the holiday season approaching, many of you are probably thinking that you already hold a remembrance service for those you have served in the past year. Maybe you send out a card remembering each family as they face their first holiday without their loved one at their celebrations. If so, you already have the beginnings of an aftercare program. If not, why not start now?
This is the time of year we begin to formalize our plans for 2014. We lock in our budgets, prepare our marketing plans and lay out our event calendars. By including a grief support program in your 2014 plans, you ensure that your business remains relevant to those you serve and create a way to reach out in new ways to potential customers.
Offering an aftercare program requires the desire to do it, a person with the right skills to implement the program and a plan of what to include in your program. While I cannot help you with the first two steps, I can certainly advise you in the implementation of a successful aftercare program.
Since 2006, I have been running an aftercare program that has reached more than 25,000 people in my community. I have built a network of over 60 grief professionals in my area who meet regularly and refer clients to one another. I have appeared on local television and radio as well as in print media promoting our events and getting free publicity for our cemetery.
I have been a guest on many national radio shows and telecasts sharing tools for grief support, and have spoken at conferences and written articles on the subject. I am proud to have built one of the most comprehensive grief support programs of any cemetery in the country. More than that, I am humbled to know of the lives that have been touched through this work.
Despite all that I have done, I will let you in on a little secret: I am not that special. You can do the same and more. It isn't complicated; you just have to get started or build upon what you already offer.
Some programs for you to consider
Choose one or more of the following offerings to begin or enhance your aftercare program:
Link to rest of article
It seems like there's a blog for everything these days. From recipes to music reviews, parenting to pet care, blogs provide tips, tricks, photos, anecdotes and more.
With history to share and events to promote, not to mention photos of lush landscaping and beautiful monuments, it makes sense for cemeteries to dive into the world of blogging. "I think this is something cemeteries should be doing," said Krystal Penrose, inbound marketing manager and blogger for funeralOne. "It helps them humanize their brand, and you can see the beauty of the cemetery. It softens the image, and makes (the cemetery) seem more approachable."
Blogging can also remind the area residents about a cemetery's historical significance, and it can change perceptions about the cemetery being a sad and scary place. "Blogging can spark ideas," Penrose said. For example, if a cemetery hosted a wedding and then (with permission) blogged about it, "That would go viral for sure," Penrose said. "It's different, it's a new way of looking at things, and I think talking about doing things differently brings a lot of attention."
Plan Now, Blog Later
Before you jump on the computer and write your first blog post, remember that there are plenty of things to consider. The first, and possibly most important, question to ask yourself is whether or not you and your staff have the time and energy to start and maintain a vibrant, engaging blog. "If you start a blog without thinking or creating a plan, and taking time out of every day or week to blog, it's not going to go well. You're going to lose momentum," Penrose said.
If you and your staff don't have the time to blog, look into hiring an intern or mortuary science student to come in once a week and handle the responsibility, Penrose suggests. However you choose to dole out the responsibility, there should be one specific person who is responsible for editing, posting and sharing content, she said.
A good way to avoid running out of steam or allowing your blog to slip through the cracks is to set up an editorial calendar. It doesn't have to be complicated, Penrose said, and some blogging platforms, like Wordpress, include an editorial calendar in the platform. "A lot of people say they don't have time, but if you plan what to write about ahead of time, that gives you a strategy," she said.
Penrose suggests starting out with writing one blog post per week. "You want to focus on making your content awesome at first," she said. Then, once you get the hang of it, you can go up to two times a week, or even four times a week." funeralOne's blog is usually updated twice a week.
Monika Berens, an editor with Mysendoff.com, added that it's more important to provide great content on your blog than to post frequently. "It is better to post, say, two or three good stories a week, rather than a story a day that you rush to write," Berens said, adding that the average blog post is not long - generally between 200 and 500 words.
"Every story has to be informative and well-written," Berens continued. "If you are rushing to write something just for the sake of having a post, people will stop reading the posts if they're not interesting." Spelling and grammatical errors should also be avoided. "Some people who read blogs love to complain about that, and then the whole focus of the blog (if comments are allowed) is hijacked by grammar," Berens said.
Link to rest of article
|Keeping ahead of the curve |
Cemetery Q & A and facing the challenge of a rising cremation rate with Keenan Knopke, Curlew Hills Memory Gardens
When Curlew Hills Memory Gardens started operations March 1, 1979, the goal was simple - create a place that provides the most comprehensive memorial care at a beautiful location, and bring peace of mind to thousands of families in the area. More than three decades later, the goal remains the same, even though the cemetery customer has changed, cremation rates are rising and the family-owned business is facing increasing competition. Curlew Hills CEO and president Keenan Knopke explains how the business is staying ahead of the curve.
What are the biggest challenges cemetery operators are facing today?
In general, it's the growth of national cemeteries and the fact that they are doing a good job of providing our veterans with a free burial. It's challenging to compete with any cemetery that is giving something for free, especially when that free is high quality.
The next thing is the future cost of health care and where it's going. Here in Florida alone they're talking about a 10 to 40 percent increase in health care costs ... but no one can answer a question about what that increase will be.
The third thing, it's not so much a challenge but an opportunity, is meeting with cremation families and meeting their needs. The needs are the opportunities we in the cemetery industry must continue to explore.
How do you face these challenges?
You focus on your heritage, and you stay in touch with the families that you've served in the past. It's important that you focus on branding your business, not the products you sell. More than anything, you have to keep your brand top of mind. In our area, when people need a funeral home, cemetery, crematory and pet services we want them to think of Curlew Hills. It's not about who has the lowest price or the best deal today - for us it's keeping our name top of mind. We do that by being a part of the community. You'll find us at the senior centers, advertising in the community newspapers, the occasional billboard and on cable television. Our message is consistent ... we talk about tradition and how Curlew Hills is your neighbor and part of the community.
It takes a while to build a brand that is top of mind. You can't spend millions and buy top of mind overnight; it is something you have to work at and work at. And part of building your brand is deciding what you're going to stand for - you don't try to be for everybody. For us, it's providing quality, value and a high level of service and charging a fair price - that's our focus.
Cremation rates continue to rise and Florida's rate is hovering over 50 percent. What do you do to reach these cremation customers?
The beauty of cremation is the opportunities are virtually unlimited; it's a blank palette. You sit with the family and say, 'Tell me a little bit about what you were thinking.' And then you bring out the brush and begin painting. Do they want visitation? Do they want the service at home? And so on. What we in the industry are able to offer is our expertise; provide the resources for whatever a family wants.
Too many times when a family says `cremation' they think direct cremation because that's all they know. And too many times when a family says `cremation' we in the industry don't think they want anything but a direct cremation. But what we've found out is that families want something more; they just don't know how to say it.
There are many fun and unique things that can be done to celebrate a life. We need to start talking about cremation and memorializing a life in the same sentence. It's not an either or - and families need to understand that.
Are cremation families and traditional ground burial families different? If so, how?
In some ways they are different. Many cremation families think the cremation is the final end and it somewhat surprises them when you ask, `What are you going to do with Mother's cremated body?' While cremation is a method of disposition, it's not the final disposition, and for some families that comes as a huge surprise.
We try to have many options available to our families. We have niches, private family columbaria, glass-front niches, a scattering garden and lake scattering in one of the ponds on our property. You always have to be on the lookout for what is different and what may be appealing to other people. It can't always be about what you like: You have to take the 'you' out of the equation; if you don't, you only have a mirror of yourself, and not everyone will like that.
Link to rest of the story
|DOL Funeral/Cemetery Board to meet December 10 |
The Washington State Funeral & Cemetery Board is meeting Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at the Department of Licensing, Olympia. The agenda is available here.
Board members are attending this meeting via conference call. Guests are welcome to attend in-person at the Department of Licensing.
Link HERE to a draft copy of the Sept. 10, 2013 meeting minutes.
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|PIMA hosting Matthews Cremation Certification Training January 15, 2014|
Those who wish to acquire certification may do for $150.00. Lunch will be included. Please contact Mark Huntsman at 425.314.4591
to get questions answered and to make arrangements for attendance.
for the agenda.
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Quiring Monuments featured in Washington Post article re: QR codes
WCCFA member Quiring Monuments was featured in an article in the Washington Post's 11/20/2013 issue. The article, "Arlington National Cemetery debated allowing QR codes on tombstones. Does technology belong in cemeteries?", features several paragraphs about Quiring's use of QR codes on headstones. Quiring Monuments pioneered the use of QR codes in 2011. Arlington Cemetery has opted not to offer the QR codes presently, although a spokesman for the VFW commented positively on the concept.
You can read the entire article at this link.
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Ten things to hate about me:
Confessions of a funeral director
"I hate this guy" he wrote, referring to me. This past weekend I was on the front page of NBC's news site and the hate remark was in reference to the content of the article.
I get it. I put myself out on facebook, twitter and my blog and not everyone will like me. BUUUTTT, it still kinda hurts.
In addition to that remark, this last month has brought some disapproving assessments such as "You're a disgrace to the funeral industry.", "You should quit.", "(your content) shouts inappropriate and trashy," and that I'm "completely nuts." Because the value of the conversation about death and funerals outweighs the negative comments, I'm okay with the criticism. In fact, I welcome it, knowing that criticism and even hate are all part of this important conversation.
But, if you're gonna hate, let me help. Let me help by attempting to put your feelings into words. I think we can have a better conversation if you know WHY you hate me. So, here are ten:
One. I represent a rather avant-garde approach to death and funerals.
I like tradition. Most of us do. Tradition becomes a part of who we are. And when some young guy like me comes along and starts talking about and questioning a part of your tradition, it's like I'm questioning and talking about you. It's like I'm demeaning you and your tribe.
Two. I don't treat death as sacred as you might like me to.
In my opinion, death and the funeral industry aren't like the sacred Ark of the Covenant...something that can only be talked about and handled by the professionals...something that's hidden behind layers of veils. I've removed the veil. I don't treat it like it's a distant abstraction. I think it's real and near. I weave humor into it. I don't think it's only for the professionals. In fact, I think - in one way or another - we all have a right to talk about it. And yes, even Tweet about it.
Three. I'm a millennial and I tend to be postmodern.
I just make the millennial cut. As far as being postmodern, that has little to do with age and a lot to do with perspective. I do not see things in absolutes like you may. I see the world differently. I'm not looking for metanarratives; I don't believe that one size fits all, and so I don't believe one type of funeral ritual is good for all. I see multiple stories, many narratives and I realize that each narrative, each community is looking for something different in both life and death.
Four. I'm writing my blog for millenials and postmoderns.
My generation isn't interested in the funeral business as much as they're interested in the people of the funeral business. I - my story, my narrative, my life, my thoughts - will be the foundation of my sustainability as a funeral director. Not necessarily marketing, the new "personalized" merchandise, the next great package or even an awesome webpage (my website looks as dated as a Nokia clam shell). My story - good and bad - will shape my future in this industry. And being able to tell that story in social media is the means to that end.
Five. I'm willing to be transparent.
Maybe even too transparent? Because I think transparency is akin to vulnerability. And vulnerability is one of the keys to connecting with postmoderns and millennials like myself.
Six. I'm a bronie.
Just kidding. Okay, maybe I like My Little Ponies a tiny, tiny bit.
Seven. I like Mother Earth.
I don't think that this world is something we should use and abuse because there's another, better world in the life beyond. I don't think earth is a playground that we can mess up because REAL life starts after this one. I believe this world is special...that we should treat it as such. And while I serve, honor and respect people who want embalming, I'm moving towards natural burial as a more environmentally friendly and psychologically healthy method of disposition.
Eight. I'm a heretic.
Yes, my desire to move away from industrialized funerals, including embalming, is considered heresy for some. You're welcome to burn me on social media, just don't use real fire. Please. I have skins. I burns. It hurts.
Nine. It's not just that I'm a millenial and postmodern, it's also that I'm young and have a platform.
I'm not using my platform to "tell everyone how it SHOULD be done." I'm sharing my thoughts and inviting a conversation. I want the conversation, even if it leads down path I'm not comfortable with. Just so we're clear. And yes, I'm young. I'm 32.
Ten. I like Nickelback, The Twilight Series and... I'm not a big fan of cats. Sorry.
This entry was posted by Caleb Wilde on November 18, 2013 at 9:25 a.m., and is sourced from ConnectingDirectors.com.
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George Nemeth, Sr.
George Nemeth, Sr. passed on into the Lord's welcoming arms on October 29, 2013 at the age of 87 with his loving family by his side. He was the father of WCCFA Secretary-Treasurer George Nemeth, Jr.
George, Sr. was employed by Holyrood Cemetery from May of 1959 through February of 1988. He was Holyrood's grounds superintendent for the majority of those years. He was born in Budapest, Hungary February 11, 1926, and escaped to the United States in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution with his wife Ilona and son George, Jr. He had a daughter, Susan, born in the U.S. in 1960 and has two grandchildren, John Nemeth and Stephanie Hoffman. George, Sr. was married for 63 years to the love of his life, Ilona, who survives him. He had a strong faith in the Lord, loved his family, and had a passion for winemaking, fishing, and soccer.
George will be missed dearly and his generous ways and strong love for family and friends will always be remembered. Funeral Mass was celebrated Saturday, November 9, 2013 at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Seattle. Mr. Nemeth Sr. was interred at Holyrood Catholic Cemetery, Shoreline.
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Get your 2014 music license now! |
We have again joined forces with the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association's Music Coalition. We are pleased to inform you that your membership in the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association now entitles your company to music licensing with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for only $258 for the 2014 calendar year. If you have not already purchased or renewed your Music License for 2012, simply complete the 2014 Music License Application and return it to ICCFA with payment, and your music license requirement for 2014 will be covered. Please note that the $258 price will be in effect until January 25, 2014. After January 25, the price increases to $270 per location.
Click here for application form.
Music licensing is the law, and failure to obtain a license where one is required can be costly: Copyright law provides for damages similar to fines of up to $30,000 for each song that is infringed. If your cemetery, regardless of size, hosts performances of copyrighted music - whether the music is performed live or played from recordings - music copyright owners say you are legally required to pay an annual licensing fee.
Click here for application form.
As a partner in the Music License Coalition, WCCFA now provides our member companies the opportunity to be in full compliance with the law and ensure you are covered for any music a client family might request. Licensing directly with the agencies this year would cost nearly $600 per location, so the Coalition price, which requires no additional membership fee, is still the lowest available in the funeral industry.
Click here for application form.
The Music License Coalition is a partnership of numerous associations representing the cemetery, cremation and funeral service industry and administered by the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. Its goal is simply to continue to attract more licensees, thereby increasing compliance within the profession and qualifying for even bigger volume discounts in the future - so your company can save even more money!
Click here for application form.
Please note that if you receive another 2014 Music License Coalition Renewal notice for $258 licensing from another Coalition organization, you only need to pay once and you can simply remit payment with whichever invoice you choose. Some cemeteries may be on more than one Music License Coalition partner membership list. As long as you pay the low $258 fee for each location where music is played, you can rest assured your company will be covered with ASCAP, BMI and SESAC for 2014.
Click here for application form.
If you have any questions, please call us at 360.668.2120. We look forward to your participation and support of the WCCFA/Music License Coalition program.
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Washington state Department of Health releases
2012 mortality statistics
The 2012 mortality data for Washington State has been finalized. Attached you will find three reports: 1) counts by funeral home, 2) counts by autopsy and disposition by county of residence, and 3) counts by autopsy and disposition by county of occurrence.
Please feel free to contact me if your e-mail address has changed or if you would like to have anyone else from your facility or department receive these reports. Also let me know if there is anything else I can assist you with.
Amy J. Poel
Center for Health Statistics
PO Box 47814
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 236-4326
Fax: (360) 753-4135
Physical Location: 101 Israel Road SE (Town Center 1) Tumwater, WA
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the largest mass grave site
in the U.S.
In a long but fascinating article on the blog Gizmodo.com, we learn the history of Hart Island, which has served as New York City's Potter's Field, or burial site of over 900,000 unclaimed deceased remains, since 1869. The island has variously served as a prison for Confederate soliders, a workhouse for the poor, a women's asylum and a Nike missile base during the Cold War. Interesting tidbit: the only memorials on the island are handmade crosses made of twigs and small offerings of fruit and candy, left by the prison inmates whose weekly task it is to bury the dead for the princely sum of fifty cents per hour. The article is full of links to all sorts of interesting articles and Web sites, and your Editor highly recommends you read it.
Link here for the entire article.
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| Support |
Every family receives several cards from our cemetery in their first year following interment. The week following their service, they get a condolence note with forget-me-not flower seeds attached.
Four to six weeks later, a full grief support packet arrives. It contains information about our programs, along with a special tri-fold containing area grief support program information. For our out-of-town families, a letter is sent offering our sympathies and offering to help them connect with grief support services in their community. As the one-year anniversary of the death approaches, we send out a "thinking of you" card.
The result of this outreach is heartwarming. Not only to people respond by attending programs, they also let us know how much they appreciate our caring gestures. One woman in Arizona even took the time to send us a photo of her forget-me-nots growing despite the hot desert sun.
Grief support groups
We run traditional grief support groups, both in the afternoon and in the evening, for anyone who wishes to attend. There is no charge for the program and no requirement that their loved one be buried in one of our cemeteries. "If your heart hurts, come to us for help," is our motto. Every meeting includes time to share and offer support, as well as tools to help people cope with the overwhelming pain of grief.
You will need a trained grief facilitator to run a group. If you do no have someone on your staff who is qualified, you can invite area grief support professionals to speak and help run the meeting. You can then choose a staff member to also attend and be the person who gets to know attendees and can help the guest speaker during the meeting.
Hold special events featuring a speaker who has expertise in the field of grief. Be sure to think outside traditional genres and bring in people who can adapt their specialty to help the bereaved.
We have invited dieticians, art therapists, personal fitness trainers, acupuncturists, music therapists and other holistic practitioners to teach participants how to make it through grief in a healthy way. We have drummed, drawn and danced during these well-attended events, and attendees always leave feeling enriched and enthused about putting these practices to work.
Our widowers gather every month to eat lunch, play cards and share a common bond. New friendships are formed and old ones reignited. For those who do not feel comfortable attending a traditional support group, this is a place where they can come and share an afternoon of laughter while knowing they can also share their feelings of loneliness and loss and be understood.
Fifth Tuesday potluck dinner
Food is a big theme in our programs. From the cookies over which attendees share conversations after programs to our highly anticipated potluck dinners, food brings people together.
Why the fifth Tuesday? One of our groups meets the first and third Tuesday each month. When a month rolls around that has a fifth Tuesday, they don't want to wait three weeks to get together. So, each of them brings a drink or dessert and pays $8 to cover the cost of the dinner provided by a local restaurant. At a recent event, a widow approached me and said, "You don't know how much it means to not have to eat one more dinner home alone."
If you don't have a place to hold a dinner, approach a local restaurant, church or banquet hall and reserve a room for a meal that provides nourishment for the body and the soul.
Sunday afternoons can be the most difficult time of the week when you are grieving. Traditionally a day for families to gather, many no longer have family in town and they go home after church to an empty house with nothing but their memories to keep them company.
That is why we go on monthly outings. We have visited basilicas, taken boat rides and attended theater productions. Every event ends with dinner at a restaurant. Attendees cover their own costs, so there is no expense to the cemetery other than the staff time spent making arrangements. They all have a wonderful afternoon together that they talk about long after the day is done.
All ages can come together and participate in a drum circle. With so many grief support programs geared toward a particular age group, families are often segregated in their support groups. I have had 2-year-olds and 87-year-olds participate in the same circle. A trained facilitator comes with her drums and we play our feelings into a better place. Tears flow, laughter grows and all leave feeling better.
Heavenly Hearts choir
Music has the power to heal, and by singing together we heal from the pain of grief. Led by a widowed musician, we select songs from a wide variety of genres. From "Silent Night" to "Lydia the Tattooed Lady," we sing our pain away. Rehearsals are filled with laughter as we stumble over lyrics, learn unfamiliar harmonies and raise our voices in memory of those we love.
Recitals are attended by friends and family and followed by a dessert buffet. One widow at her first rehearsal began to cry and told the group that this was the first time she had been able to sing since her husband died.
There are additional programs we run from time to time, such as walking groups, a laughter club and community remembrance services, including our pet remembrance service. New programs are rolled out as the need arises. Our program changes and grows, along with our contact list as we reach out to the community, asking people to be a part of what we offer.
Our phone continues to ring with those who have been referred to us and are looking for help. We have become the resource for all things grief-support related in our community. Most of all, we only have to look into the faces of those we are helping to know we are providing a valuable service, and that it is the right thing to do.
Source: ICCFA Magazine, Nov. 2013 by Nancy Weil, in its entirety with permission
Nancy Weil is director of grief support for eleven cemeteries in the Mount Calvary Cemetery Group and the Catholic Diocese Cemeteries in Buffalo, New York. A professional speaker and consultant, she speaks to business and association audiences who want to learn how to live without stress, create an aftercare program and harness the power of humor to increase sales and customer service. She is the author of the book "If Stress Doesn't Kill You, Your Family Might," which is filled with effective tools you can u se to reduce stress in your life. Weil has a degree in business and has received certifications as a Laughter Leader, Grief Management Specialist and Certified Celebrant.
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Lots of Ideas for Content
Too often, Penrose said, cemeteries and funeral homes blog about boring topics. "The content on your blog should be helpful, educational, inspiring, and funny," she said. Cemetery professionals should consider blogging about topics such as the cemetery's history and famous residents, current or past events the cemetery is hosting, genealogy, headstone rubbings, facts about cemeteries and resting places around the world and maintaining grave sites. "It's all about using your expertise creatively, and writing about what's relevant to the industry," Penrose said. "The best writing out there is done by someone who's truly passionate about that subject or topic."
Christiana Pena, director of programs with The Woodlawn Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, N.Y., said Woodlawn started its blog to share its work with a broader audience. "So much goes on at Woodlawn, from the care of our physical resources to the work of our staff and volunteers on programming, genealogy, etc., and so little
of that is known by the general public," she said. "The blog gives voice to these individuals and is a platform to enable sharing of new and interesting information about Woodlawn."
|The Woodlawn Cemetery|
Woodlawn's blog focuses on several topics. "We highlight the ways in which we're actively researching and sharing the history of the cemetery and its 'permanent residents' with both our lot owners and the general public," Pena said. "What's more, we connect the cemetery with contemporary time. In doing so, our goal is to illustrate that though we're 150 years old, Woodlawn is still relevant to our current lives." The blog also serves to highlight the work of Woodlawn's volunteers. "So much of the conservancy's efforts in regards to research and programming relies on our corps of volunteers," Pena said, so she's always happy to be able to feature them in the blog. "Hopefully it encourages others to volunteer their time and expertise, too."
Anthony Desmond, vice president of operations with Cypress Hill Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y., sees the cemetery
's blog as a way to make announcements, connect with the community and promote events. By doing so, Desmond hopes to spread awareness about Cypress Hill to people who might not necessarily be in need of a cemetery, to show them that the cemetery does more than bury the dead. "I would say the most important
|Cypress Hill Abbey Mausoleum|
part about our blog is trying to add information that will bring different people to the cemetery or our website - people that aren't normally there," Desmond said. "We want to show the community that Cypress Hill is more than just a place of sadness and mourning. It can be a place where people have a positive experience."
However, Desmond says, he is careful to avoid doing anything to offend people who may be in mourning or working through grief. "You don't know who's visiting your website," he said. "If they are mourning, you want to be sensitive to that and keep things very straight."
Emma Stern, volunteer and administrative coordinator with Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, manages the cemetery's blog, and said a good way to avoid offending people is to know your audience. "As a historic site that focuses on creative programming, we are able to post pictures of visitors picnicking amongst tombstones, while watching a night-time horror flick," she said. "Our audience generally appreciates fun, edgy and off-the-wall content. This may not be the case across the board."
It's possible to be sensitive without being depressing, though. In fact, Penrose believes it's important to refrain from posting too much depressing content on your blog. "People are already depressed, and making them more depressed when they land on your blog is never a good idea," she said. Instead, try posting inspirational and uplifting content. "If someone buries a loved one in your cemetery, they can go to your blog when they're feeling dow
|Laurel Hills Cemetery|
n, and know there are inspirational posts that will help them overcome grief," she said. If you're able to post uplifting and even fun material in the right way, it can help your relationship with the families you serve, because "you don't seem so corporate or intimidating to them," Penrose said.
Blogs are also excellent platforms for sharing photos of the cemetery. Laurel Hill Cemetery takes advantage of Tumblr's image-centric platform, using it to share all sorts of photos of the 177-year-old Victorian cemetery's 78 acres. "Visitors travel from all over the nation and sometimes internationally, just to photograph the site," Stern said. "Tumblr is a wonderful platform for posting and sharing these photos - it's always great to experience the cemetery from a visitor's perspective." Stern added that the cemetery has seen a huge increase in picture taking over the years, whether it's someone snapping a photo with their cell phone, or an experienced photographer using a single-lens reflex camera and tripod. "Hundreds of images are submitted to staff throughout the year and we needed an image-centric platform, like Tumblr, where we could easily sort and share our visitors' images," she said.
Promoting Your Blog
Blogging without promoting is "like writing a wonderful book and never publishing it," Penrose said. Just as there are plenty of topics for cemeterians to blog about, there are a number of ways to get the word out about your blog. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are always useful - and free. "Excerpts from blog posts could be added to Facebook pages and Tweets," Berens said.
Penrose said the best thing you can do in terms of promoting a blog and getting more visitors is to get subscribers that sign up for weekly updates, or receive email updates when you post a new blog entry. "No one is going to want to subscribe to your blog if you make them answer 20 questions. They just want to put in their name and email address," Penrose said. Adding your blog's URL to business cards, email signatures and anything else you share is also an easy way to get the word out without spending extra money.
Woodlawn's blog is promoted through several channels, Pena said. In addition to featuring blog headlines in its monthly e-newsletter and cross promoting through social media, the cemetery welcomes guest bloggers, who then share their contributions with their own contacts. Stern said Laurel Hill promotes its blog similarly, and because many of the photos it shares are submitted by visitors or volunteers, those contributors often repost the links on their own social media pages. "It is a great way to have images of Laurel Hill go viral and to spread the word about our organization," Stern said.
Source: American Cemetery Magazine Oct. 2013 reproduced in its entirety with permission
By Laruen Moore
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|Ahead of the Curve |
In 2009, you developed a new section called Hellenic Cemetery "Morpheus." Can you talk a little bit about it?
It came about because about six miles north of Curlew Hills is a community called Tarpon Springs, which has a large Greek population. The city cemetery there was almost sold out and some community leaders approached us in 2007-2008 about the possibility of creating a traditional Greek section in the cemetery. We are the closest cemetery to Tarpon Springs, and after some discussion we decided to go ahead with the project. What we did was create a Hellenic cemetery, a traditional Greek cemetery, inside Curlew Hills. It has monuments and Greek columns and we will shortly begin construction on an archway. The cemetery has been promoted within the community and it has been a huge success in that in a 70 percent cremation market we've sold almost 500 traditional grave spaces with monuments, and in most cases funeral services and caskets, too. It's one of those unique situations when you can find the right group and work with the community to become a resource because they know that you will follow their traditions and you will continue to be a provider into the future. It follows that we are looking for our next group.
What sets Curlew Hills apart from other cemeteries in the Pinellas County area?
What sets us apart is that we are involved in the community. As an example we built a 9/11 memorial in conjunction with the Palm Harbor Fire District with a piece of steel they received from the Twin Towers to honor the lives lost and so our community will never forget what happened that day in New York. You'll find our staff out and about in community events. We're just a friendly, small family business in Palm Harbor that is involved in its community. What we've come to realize is that you have to take the chance on the things that involve money that don't provide an instant return and rely on the community that when they're ready to talk they'll come to us. It's a different way of spending money, but it has been successful for us ... and it continues to be successful.
Much has been made of the SCI acquisition of Stewart Enterprises. Stewart owns many cemetery properties in Florida, and there's been talk that SCI may want to divest itself of some of these properties. Do you think this will happen?
The only people who know what's going to happen are in Washington. They're the ones who are going to make the recommendations and decisions. I think SCI will work to keep as many Stewart combinations (cemetery and funeral homes) as possible. SCI has some very large combinations in Florida as well, that I think they would want to keep.
If SCI decides or is forced to sell some cemeteries in Florida, what does it mean for locally-owned cemetery operators like yourself?
If an opportunity presents itself in a model that makes sense, we would be interested; if it doesn't make sense, we won't be in the game. We would be looking at opportunities that do not take business away from our current businesses, and I would think anyone looking at the possible divestures would consider it the same way.
What does the future hold for the cemetery industry?
There are a lot of challenges facing the industry ... cremation, religious cemeteries and growth of national cemeteries. We have to stay fresh, explore new opportunities and services. Years ago my dad taught me when you park in the same place and you walk in the same door, that area looks great because you pay attention (to that area). But he told me at least once a week you need to walk through the front door to make sure your front door is as good as the side door that you come in and out every day. Most managers think they are too busy, but you have to look at the customer side. What do they see when they pull up ... if they don't like what they see, they're doing to drive on. Simply said, you need to be the leader and let your community know you are, otherwise you are just like everyone else, but with a different address!
article by Pattie Martin Bartsche for American Cemetery magazine Sept. 2013 in its entirety with permission
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Call for Speakers!
The 21st Annual Spring College will be held in March and we're looking for speakers and topics.
The College features three separate "tracks" of concurrent sessions which change hourly, allowing for up to 18 sessions in total. We cover cemetery operations, death-care issues, sales, governmental and legal affairs. We try to have all our presenters from within the association because who knows more about what we do than we do?
Here are some of the requests and suggestions for topics and speakers from the last two years' worth of post-conference surveys. If you see a topic that's near and dear to your heart and would like to be a speaker, or have a speaker to suggest, please send email to email@example.com
- Panel of cemetery presidents and managers discussing their issues
- Marker care
- Office politics/inter-office drama
- V.A. Benefits
- How to work with TV and print news media - dos and don'ts
- More from Elvig
- Sales opportunities - 20 ideas in 20 minutes - door-knocking
- Laws - rules - funeral director apprentices
- Retired death-care employers
- How media, public opinion, societal mores and government all contribute and dictate how one works in the profession
- LGBT issues in family law in regards to next of kin rights of disposition
- Burial at sea
- Green funeral homes
- OSHA, WISHA and funeral home standards
- History of our profession
- Mock legal setting
- Cremation options
- Marketing that works
- Employee growth
- More connection between funeral & cemeteries
- More on governmental affairs & DOL
- Comparison between private and public cemeteries - different hoops
See you in the Spring!
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Do you have a job position to fill?
Cemetery or funeral home equipment to sell?
Are you looking for a job?
Classified ads for WCCFA members are FREE.
Send your information to the WCCFA at firstname.lastname@example.org
EINAN'S FUNERAL HOME (RICHLAND)
SEEKS LICENSED FUNERAL DIRECTOR/EMBALMER
Einan's Funeral Home and Cemetery is in search of a qualified licensed funeral director/embalmer who can embrace the culture of our company. The candidate we are looking for should have excellent interpersonal skills, a professional demeanor and understand the concept of working together as a team. This is a hands-on position that requires organization and communication skills. Applicant must be proficient in all aspects of funeral services including meeting with families, arranging and directing, and outreach through the community. Experience with food service and receptions a plus but not required. We provide an excellent benefit package and salary based on experience and ability.
E-mail resume to email@example.com
LEAD SALES PERSON
IN RICHLAND, WASH.
| Well-established leader in Cemetery, Funeral profession in need of self-motivated, caring individual that is willing to be trained for advancement in our sales department.
· Full-time career opportunity
· High income potential
· Excellent benefits
· Leads provided
· Flexible hours
· Local travel
· Comprehensive Training
· Complete support staff
If you have strong communication skills & dynamic personality and a Life Insurance License please e-mail resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org
|LAKE WASHINGTON TECH SEEKS EMBALMING LAB INSTRUCTOR|
Lake Washington Institute of Technology is seeking a part-time embalming instructor.
Link here for complete information.
The WCCFA Insider is published ten times per year by and for the members of the Washington Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association. Portions of the information in this publication are taken from other sources which we believe to be reliable and which are not necessarily complete statements of all the available data. The services of an attorney or an accountant should be sought in connection with any legal or tax matter covered. Conclusions are based solely upon our best judgment and analysis of technical and industry information sources.
MAIL ONLY 16212 Bothell-Everett Highway, F183, Mill Creek, WA 98012
Phone 360.668.2120 or 888.522.7637 Fax 360.282.6535
News articles, editorials, press releases, commentary are all welcomed.
For information about membership, advertising or editorial policy,
contact Judy Faaberg, Executive Director.