Deidre Blair


I surf the Internet a lot.  Mostly, I’m looking for stuff I can steal borrow for this blog.

Here’s a round up of some sites I especially enjoy and an itsy-bitsy reason you should love them too:

 

RESPECTANCE.  These folks were at the NFDA Convention in Vegas.  Their blog details the great stuff they saw and people they met at the show. 

American Heart Association

Their site (the “MySpace of Funerals”) is the kind of thing today’s youth will be (and is) using to commemorate their loved ones.  This is truly the future of grief and memorialization.

VIEW FROM A HEARSE.  The online blog home of Bruce Goddard.  Bruce is a humorist, author, motivational speaker and undertaker.  He talks about funerals, his family, his views on everything under the sun and a lot more.  Sometimes I disagree with him.  Sometimes I laugh.  Other times, his sharp observations make me cry.  Bruce is awesome.

MY FUNKY FUNERAL.  Who are these people?  I don’t know yet, but I love the site.  Their blog is full of exciting stuff about famous funerals, wacky funerals and exciting new products.  They encourage their visitors to “go out in style and punctuate your life with a smile!”

FINAL REFLECTIONS.  Deidre Blair, one of our contributors, writes this blog from the perspective of an event planner.  Deidre’s ideas are spot-on and the kinds of things our hard-wired, funeral-focused minds often miss.  Her posts on after-funeral receptions are a must-read.

EMBALMED TO THE MAX.  Written by a mortuary science student, this blog features some wacky (but interesting) articles about funerals, death, the industry and more.  It’s nice to get the perspective of a newcomer to the industry.

IN REPOSE.  My friend and our contributor, Candace Craw-Goldman, writes this insightful blog from the perspective of a consumer and photographer.  Candace’s photography is luscious and thought-provoking.  Her photographs of people and animals are particularly impressive.  But even more inspiring is her writing about this industry.  Her website, In Repose, helps people memorialize their loved ones and write their own final tributes.  Many of her blog posts deal with the things she’s learned serving her customers.  Read it.  You’ll love it.

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We’ve added a few readers since the NFDA Convention in Las Vegas, so I’ve prepared this “tour” to familiarize them with the surroundings.  (Regular readers, please excuse the refresher course)

Final Embrace is a blog, which means all new articles (also called “posts”) will appear at the top of the page, with older articles moving down.  Picture a long scroll, where the newest writing is at the top and the older writing is rolled onto the scroll as time progresses.

Posts are also grouped by category.  On the right side of the blog, there is a list of “categories.” 

With titles like Advertising, Big Ideas, Cremation Issues, Meet Your Maker and more, these categories will help you find other articles about topics that interest you. 

And don’t forget, each article has at least one of the categories listed just below the title, so you can click from an individual post to find related articles.

Worried about getting bored with my writing?  The BE OUR GUEST columns are written by a group of other, more interesting writers.

From Kim Stacey (funeral home copywriting) to Deidre Blair (event planning) and from Don Shell (life story writing) to Robin Richter (human resource issues), we’ve got articles on every facet of the funeral industry.

Here’s just a few of our categories and recommended articles contained in each:

ADVERTISING
Kim Stacey on Advertising Language
“Doing Your Best” vs. “Being the Best”

BIG IDEAS
How to Fix the Modern Funeral
Michael Manley on a Possible FBA Buying Collective
Creating a “Must-Have” Funeral Experience

COOL PRODUCTS
My Take on Plush Teddy Bears Keepsake Urns
One Size Fits All. Really?

CREMATION ISSUES
Eulogies are for the Living
Surprised, She Asked “You can have a viewing with a cremation?”
Candace Craw-Goldman Shares “The Tin Can”
No One Wears Shoes Here

EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
How Do You Act When No One Is Watching?
How to NOT Mess Up a Job Interview

FUNERAL MARKETING
Don Shell: “It’s not about the casket™. No, really.”
DAILY NAG: Make Eye Contact

LEGAL ISSUES
Nigerian Scam Letter Turns to Funeral Homes
Why We Don’t Sell American Flag Cot Covers
Someone is Educating Your Community. Is it You?

MEET YOUR MAKER (Interview Series)
2007 NFDA Convention: Remembrace Reproductions
EXHIBITOR SPOTLIGHT: Pictures in Motion
Interview with Urn Maker, Spirit Remains
EXHIBITOR SPOTLIGHT: Info On Hold

PODCASTS
PODCAST: The NFDA Interview
Our Podcast Vault is Growing!
PODCAST: Meeting the Needs of the 21st Century Consumer

RECOMMENDED READING
Now Everyone Can Visit Fallingwater
Candace Craw-Goldman on “Baba’s Story”
Deidre Blair on Reception Layout
Funeral for a Lakota Warrior

WHO ARE WE?
Quilted Mortuary Cot Covers
Where’s Toto When You Need Him?
A Death in the Family: Part 2
Our Cot Cover on NBC
Revamped Treasured Memory Bear Site
Next Stop: Las Vegas!!!

We appreciate your time on our site.  Don’t forget:  there are over 600 articles and podcasts available. 

ENJOY!

We leave tomorrow for the NFDA Convention in Vegas!

 I’m leaving my office assistant, my two sewing workers and my business partner in Central Florida to keep making product and prepare for the coming onslaught of orders!

I put out feelers to my blog contributors to see who’d like to accompany me to Vegas. 

The requirement?  He/she had to pay for own lodging and meals.  I promised to provide at least one meal and a plane ticket.

Master storyteller and awesome writer, Don Shell of Lifestory Network funeral homes, couldn’t attend. 

Kim Stacey, our resident copywriter and regular contributor to Funeral Business Advisor, Mortuary Management and others, couldn’t attend because of family obligations. 

Event planning expert, Deidre Blair, is in Paris!  Guess Vegas can’t compete! 

Our good friend (not yet a contributor, but soon, I hope!), Shirley Rowe of Rowe Photography Studio is so swamped with business that she can’t get even a day away!

I was finally able to convince Robin Richter, our H.R. expert, to give up a few days and trek across the country with me.

So we’re leaving tomorrow on what will most likely be the biggest week of our small company’s life.

We’ll update the blog while we’re there.  So look to this space for info about the convention, our daily sales totals and more!

Wish us luck!

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 Deidre Blair of Final Reflections, shares some oft-overlooked considerations when creating a after-funeral reception with a buffet-style serving setup:

A funeral home employee set up this space to accommodate 75 guests for a post-funeral gathering.  This photo shows you what not to do when setting up a gathering in your home.  

If you feed more than 35 people, there should be two lines for guests to go through the buffet.  In this photo there is only one line and the guests will block the empty chairs while waiting in line for food.

This is a buffet lunch, meaning the guest serve themselves.  The server is taking up precious space behind the serving table.  He should be out in the dining area assisting the elderly with their plates or clearing dirty dishes. 

There should be low tables in a room this small.  High top tables make it more difficult to move about.  There are too many different table heights in the space.  The table linen on the high top table is too short, thus exposing the metal legs.  The vases on the table are out of scale.  A low container with billowing flowers would be more appropriate.

There are two high windows which you can not see in this photo.  The artificial lighting speaks loudly in this room without the tiny candle votives on the table.  Candles should not be lit in the daylight.  The arrangements, in the left hand corner of this photo, are too clustered.  The arrangements should be scattered around the room. 

The shiny damask linen on the table is too formal for this daytime gathering.  A single linen is plenty.  An underlay and overlay for this gathering looks terrible.

I was asked to create seating for 75 guests in the same room.  I focused on the deceased passion.  He was a gardener and loved sunflowers.  I took small vases, places natural color rocks in the bottom of the vase.  I put one sunflower in each vase.   

I placed the silverware and napkins at the table, giving the guest one less thing to carry from the buffet table.  You cannot see the buffet table, but it is in an L-shape.  I set up the buffet near the entrance door.  Guest approached the table from both sides making the waiting time seconds instead of minutes to get their food.  

The clean lines and simplicity of this table setting makes the room more spacious and attractive.

  A widow at 36, Deidre sought out a different type of service to commemorate her late husband.  Drawing on her skills as owner of Awesome Events, Deidre created a memorable early morning golf course service, complete with memorial items attached to golf cart steering wheels and lunch in the clubhouse.

Deidre brings her knowledge of event planning to the funeral industry with Final Reflections, a service designed to help funeral directors more effectively serve families after the interment or cremation.  You can visit her blog or call Deidre at 866-254-6691.

In yesterday’s post, titled I Don’t Ask for Much, But…, I let you know that I really, really, really wanted a Flickr Pro Account and I was hoping one of my amazing readers would buy it for me.

AND SOMEONE ACTUALLY DID!

Deidre Blair, the creative and fabulous event planner behind Final Reflections, bought it for me.

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Only one problem – now that I know I have the awesome ability to simply ask for something and one of my readers will buy it for me, I don’t know if I can control myself.

Ooooh…. I think I’ll Google the new 2-door Mercedes.

I’ve lured so many great writers to the blog (Kim Stacey, Don Shell, etc.) that I’ve added separate links for each of their growing collections.

If you look at the categories to the right (choosing a category helps you find other articles that have been assigned or “tagged” with a theme) you’ll see links for the following writers:

Kim Stacey, funeral home copywriter and owner of Marketing Funeral Services
Don Shell, Lifestory Network writer
Robin Richter, HR Expert and “Queen of the Scrappers
Bryan Chandler, owner of Chandler Funeral Home and Cremation Service
Candace Craw-Goldman
, photographer and owner of In Repose
Deidre Blair, event planner and owner of Final Reflections

 Of course, we’re still looking for a “few good writers” who want to share their insights.

So drop us a line or comment hear if you’ve got something to contribute, a product to share with our readers or an interesting story to relate.

My friend and reader, Deidre Blair, is no stranger to the funeral industry.

A widow at the age of 36, Deidre used her experience as the owner of Awesome Events, an event planning company, to plan her husband’s memorial services.

Held at the first hole of his favorite golf course at sunrise, Deidre’s husband was honored and memorialized by friends and family who drove golf carts to the service.

After a few months had passed and Deidre had some time to reflect, she noticed that few funerals were as personal and specialized as the one she was able to provide for her husband.

So she did some research, readied a new division of her company and prepared to launch Final Reflections to the general public. 

A few years ago, when Deidre was launching her new service, I got a call from her.  She wanted to bounce the idea off of someone in “the know.”  To be fair, I’d never met her and was a little wary of this “outsider” pumping me for details about how funeral professionals think and how the general public would relate to her service.

At the time, Deidre was planning to sell her event services directly to the consumer.  She thought she could work as a liaison between the family and the funeral home.

I shared my misgivings with her.  And I asked her to consider a few things:

People already have enough to do when it comes to planning a funeral in a few short days.

Most people have never hired an event or wedding planner.

Most people are already wary of the price for a funeral.  Add in a special event that might cost thousands and you’ve got huge sticker shock.

No funeral director wants to split his possible profit with an outsider.

Funeral directors don’t take well to being told they don’t know how to plan funeral events.

I can’t imagine any funeral director will want to recommend you to a potential family.

Deidre listened and still chose to sell her service directly to grieving families.  She had hopes that funeral directors would share her brochures with their clients.

I got a call from Deidre in May of 2007, updating me on her progress.  Turns out some of the things I said were true.  Others, not so much. 

But instead of giving up her plans, she altered them.  She figured that she needed some experience, so she went to work for SCI at their largest area location, learning how funeral homes (at least SCI) run funerals and how they interact with potential clients regarding special memorialization options.

She also found a few areas where her expertise would come in handy.

So she’s relaunched her service, this time making funeral homes her prospective clients.

Deidre Blair and Final Reflections now offer event planning advice (through her great blog) and provide turnkey systems for funeral directors who want to offer post-funeral receptions and specialized funeral services.

Check out Deidre’s blog here.  And if you’ve been thinking about offering receptions to your clients, give Deidre a call at 866-254-6691.  She’s got some great ideas and the skills to back them up.

(Editor’s note:  Deidre has graciously agreed to write some short articles for Final Embrace.  Look for those in the coming weeks!)