Month: May 2016

How to Write Better Obituaries

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This article originally appeared in the March issue of Mortuary Management. Writer Kim Stacey will be hosting OGR’s June 16 webinar and takes the time to share how to write a better obituary.


Late last year Jessica A. Smith of the Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) asked me to be a course leader for a 2016 OGR-sponsored webinar about writing obituaries. The webinar, titled “How to Write an Obituary Worth Reading,” is slated for mid-June, and “will look at the factors which make a good obituary” as well as “provide a forum where funeral professionals can share their obituary-writing experiences and learn from one another.”

The topic was prompted, in part, by the recent rise of the “viral” obituary, where the story (or the personal agenda of the writer) resonates so deeply with readers that the obituary is shared — using popular social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter — by millions of Internet users.

article-0-1BC0557D000005DC-592_634x403You know the ones I’m talking about. Think back to 2013 when the obituary of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick was published. This scathing “tribute,” written by her surviving adult children, included sentences like these: “Everyone she met, adult or child, was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit,” and “We celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty and shame that she delivered on her children.” It also featured a call for “a national movement and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.” This lurid story, combined with the expression of vengeful desire and the direct “call-to-action,” made this obituary an overnight global sensation.  Read the rest of this entry »

How Funeral Professionals Can Make Their Businesses Thrive

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Do you ever feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all you need to or like you’re treading water and barely keeping up with your competitors? For small business owners, scheduling time for success makes all the difference according to Clay Clark, founder of Thrive15. Clay has built several successful companies over the past 15 years and plans to launch more using time-tested strategies. His keynote at OGR’s Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase highlighted six of these strategies, which will help funeral service professionals increase the gross revenue of their businesses by ten percent this year.

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1. Develop a growth mindset. Read the rest of this entry »

Would You Hire a Photographer for Your Funeral?

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Photographing a funeral might be considered unorthodox, but some families are opting to hire a photographer to capture their loved one’s funeral. While it may not seem culturally normative today, it should not be considered taboo. You might be surprised to learn that funeral photography is rooted deep in funeral tradition and has been around for a long time.   Read the rest of this entry »

How Can Your Funeral Home Improve? Families Speak Up

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Each year, OGR nominates a few funeral homes for providing exemplary service and then awards three of those member firms with the Exemplary Service Award.

Recipients are chosen from comments received from families through the Family Contact Program. Below are a few lessons this year’s winners have learned about providing exemplary service and the benefits of family feedback. Do you have anything to add?

Lesson 1 – “Hear” Between the Lines.

Tapping into the needs and wants of strangers is an extremely difficult job. When meeting with funeral directors, many families may naturally be vague communicators or be so overwrought with grief and stress that they are not able to express themselves clearly. Often times, people are unfamiliar with the funeral planning process and aren’t sure what kind of funeral service they want for their loved one.

Take this lesson from Judson Caldwell of Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home in Covington, GA on how to approach communication with families.


Caldwell & Cowan Staff

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