Published: May 20, 2020
by Joy Herndon, Director

Many families are extremely hesitant when the time comes to make funeral arrangements for a loved one. It can be intimidating for grieving families to walk into the funeral home. Most individuals have the pre-conceived notion that funeral homes are spooky and funeral directors are creepy. In addition, families have no idea what to expect. They are almost always a little lost. Families coming in to make funeral arrangements have experienced a loss. Weather it was a hospice death that had been expected for months, or a sudden death. The loss and grief are still there.  

To ease some of the tension, we would like to go over some specific goals of the initial Arrangement Conference.     

First, we will offer a brief introduction to our staff. If everyone has not had an opportunity to met the Director and other members of the team, we take a little time letting you get to know who we are. You have placed a great amount of trust in us. You deserve to know who we are.  

Next, we move to the Conference Room (coffee and bottled water are readily available). We begin with a conversation about your loved one. To properly guide you thru telling their story, we need to know about the person, from the family’s perspective. We’ll ask you, “If they were still here today, what would they be doing?” Or we may say, “Your mom will best be remembered for her what?” This conversation naturally leads us to completing the death certificate information.

We then begin discussing service options. We discuss public and private services. You may already know just what your loved one’s wishes were. We help decide the day, time, and location of the Funeral Service. Some things to consider when deciding the date, is it someone’s birthday or anniversary? Or will the location work for the number of guests expected? Will you have a hard time worshiping at your church the following Lord's day if your loved one is viewed there for the funeral? We also address the notion of private family time with the deceased. Family viewing may take place on a separate day than the Funeral. All these decisions are specific for the family situation.    

Once the above decisions are made, we begin to put all the information together and write the obituary. We include family members who have preceded in death, survivors, service arrangements and other information. The obituary is an opportunity to paint a picture of the beautiful life lived. 

Other decisions covered during the Arrangement Conference are merchandise decisions: casket, vault, stationary… We can also cover permanent memorialization choices such as monuments and headstones if the family has a need. Most of the time, during the initial meeting, we do not go into details of a headstone. That can be covered later. We mainly ask about the plot marking, and if a date-of-death engraving is needed.

After all the selections have been made, we finalize the contract, discuss payment options, gather signatures on legal documents, and review a final checklist to insure nothing was missed.

Questions are encouraged throughout the meeting. We repeat ourselves often and send home everything we covered in writing. We send you home with an organized folder containing a printed obituary, service arrangements, General Price List, copy of your contract and any other documents we discussed. Also know that we are not here to rush a family. Not all the decisions have to be made immediately, or even during the initial meeting. We do not expect your mind to be as clear during this time as it normally would be. We make a checklist of items that are still needed, such as photos, DD214, clothing or other items. We also cover additional contacts that we will make for you including clergy, cemetery sextons and others.

We understand the difficulty of coming to the funeral home. Some families prefer we go to their homes to lessen the abrasiveness of the situation. We are happy to oblige. We follow the same basic agenda whether we are at the funeral home or your home. It is our job as Funeral Directors to gather as much information about the deceased as possible and guide the family thru a meaningful service. We strive to exceed the expectations of each family we have the privilege and honor to serve. 

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