Being a Funeral ‘Hero’
If you can’t save the day, at least save memories

The season premiere of my favorite show, Heroes, is on tonight.  Hopefully you’ll watch it.  Aside from being one of the best escapist thrills on television, the show succeeds by truly humanizing the superhuman, the way those popcorn comic book movies flooding the multiplex so rarely do.The Heroes writers weave a wide variety of real-world drama into an otherwise otherworldly good time, touching on everything from marital strife, to teenage angst, drug addiction and even death.  OK, that last one gets touched on quite a bit (and not always in an “open casket” kind of way, either), but in one episode last season, the subject provided an especially poignant moment.

“Death is what connects us all,” the über-hero, Peter Petrelli, compassionately explained to the daughter of his hospice patient.  “It’s what reminds us that life is so important, and why we need to be good to each other.”

Death is what connects us all.  That’s a sentiment most of us in the funeral profession would be hard-pressed to argue with, now wouldn’t it?  Death does connect us all, and more importantly, it’s what reminds us that we’re all connected.

OK, maybe that’s splitting hairs, but I don’t think so.  When someone dies, people are more affected than connected.  It was the person’s life, not death, which truly connected them.  The memories of the person, the shared experiences, the degrees of separation between people, are what keep them connected, as long as those memories are saved.

What do you, as funeral professionals, do to help save those memories?  At Life Story Funeral Homes®, our entire focus is remembering the life that was lived, and preserving those memories for future generations.

For example, what do you know about your grandparents?  Maybe you know them quite well.  But what about your great-grandparents?  You probably don’t know very much. Don’t you wish you did?  Wouldn’t you like to read their Life Story®? Of course you would.

What do you, as funeral directors, do to help save those stories?  Do you offer video slideshows, or “personalized” funerals, complete with Grandpa’s golf clubs?  Those are nice features to offer your client-families, but honestly, they only scratch the surface of who the person was.

No matter how “personal” you make the service, it is in itself a very two-dimensional event, which the people in the pews and chapel chairs interact with only passively, and fleetingly.  Death connects us all, but it’s our shared experiences – our memories – that keep us connected in life.

It’s up to you, the funeral professionals, to help people save those things that are dear to them.  It’s up to you to be the heroes when people need you most.

 Don Shell is a staff writer for Life Story Network®, a Portage, Michigan-based multimedia company serving 15 independently-owned funeral homes in the Midwest. For more information, visit http://www.lifestorynet.com/, or email Don at donshell@lifestorynet.com.