Funeral homes, it can be said, are mostly in the business of helping people to cope with grief. And fortunately, most funeral directors and others who work in the funeral industry can be counted upon to speak with their customers with plenty of compassion and patience. Most funeral home websites in today’s world have links to plenty of resources and other information about grief. Many even have specially trained counselors on staff (or available on a contract basis) to help as needed when their clients encounter problems in coping with grief. Here is a brief guide to some of the ways that funeral homes can help with grief in many cases.
More and more funeral homes today are opening their doors to support groups that meet regularly to help people who have suffered a loss and are grieving. Many times the funeral home personnel actually lead these meetings (and some funeral homes even hire formally trained counselors to do that), but in other cases, the funeral homes simply donate meeting space for the groups and/or provide publicity support for the group’s activities (often in the way of distributing literature about the grief groups but in a few cases the funeral homes even mention the group meetings in their radio, television and newspaper advertising). These groups are available to help people with a wide variety of grief-related issues. There are groups that focus on the needs of widows, others that focus on parents who have lost a child, and still others that focus on children who have lost their parents. And, of course, there are some support groups that simply exist to help people learn to cope with grief in general.
Most funeral home employees today are well versed in the particulars that psychologists and other experts have discovered about the grieving process. In fact, in just about every funeral home operating today, a customer can readily find a pamphlet, or in some cases, an entire library of books and articles about the grieving process. This process involves various steps that many funeral homes specifically train their employees to be sensitive to. This process includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. When funeral homes first encounter their customers many of them are in the first or second stages of the grief process, so workers at these establishments must be especially sensitive to the emotional issues related to those two stages. But, that said, one thing all experts assert about the grieving process is that all people experience them differently, and not necessarily in any particular order. So, while it is true that people who have recently lost a loved one tend to find themselves in either the denial or anger stages by the time they begin dealing with a funeral home, those stages may also begin manifesting themselves later in many people’s behavior. So, funeral homes are typically equipped (training wise) to relate well and properly comfort people who are in all stages of the grief process. There is one thing that experts say is true about the grieving process: everyone who grieves does end up going through each of the stages, at one point or another.
Providing personnel to speaking at public events is another way the funeral homes help with those who are experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one. While some cynics will certainly dismiss such efforts as nothing more than public relations, funeral homes who do send their funeral directors (and in some cases, trained counselors who are on their staff) to speak at civic group events and other public outings, are providing a valuable outreach service to many people who may be experiencing the negative affects of grief without even realizing it. Grief, by its very nature, can last for months or years (or occasionally even decades) after the death of a loved one, and many people who suffer from it do not realize that their negative feelings and behaviors are directly related to grief. Consequentially, these people would not likely turn to a funeral home (or any grief expert) for help in coping with their grief, were it not for the speaking outreach programs that, more or less, send the experts to them.
As we’ve indicated above, some funeral homes – usually the larger ones in large metropolitan areas – have formally trained grief counselors on their staffs. But, even if they don’t, nearly all funeral homes are happy to make a referral to a professional grief counselor should the need arise. Anyone who is suffering from the effects of grief and is having difficulty coping with that grief alone should not hesitate to contact a funeral home for a referral. No funeral home employee should charge for a referral, but, if the funeral home provides the counseling itself, there may be a professional fee associated with the service. There are also those who are uncomfortable speaking with someone about their grief, or the emotions that they are undergoing. For those individuals, the world wide web may be of great benefit, as there are countless non-profit organizations that host websites, specifically to provide information about grief. A grief website can be a wonderful source of information, and can even the just what one needs to motivate them to reach out to others for healing.
One final important thing to remember about funeral homes and grief is that, while some funeral homes do offer what they call “grief counseling” directly to their customers, this service may not always be what it seems. Unless the person providing the counseling is a fully-trained, certified counselor, clients should be wary that grief counseling may also be a very subtle, ethically questionable, way to convince customers to buy funeral services that they may not otherwise be interested in. Fortunately, most funeral homes do not engage in this sort of misleading type of sales tactic, but customers should be on the look out for it, nevertheless.