Many people are apprehensive about going inside a funeral home. This is a fact well known to the funeral directors and staff who work inside of them.
In this article, we look at how the team at Meridian Funeral Home in Chorley, Lancashire work to reduce peoples’ anxiety through service, new ideas, warmth and kindness.
I spoke to Meridian Funeral Home’s owner Carl Kenyon and his son Brett Kenyon, who commented on the difference between how people felt before they came inside to how they felt afterwards.
“At Meridian House, we try to help people not be frightened of coming into a funeral home. Before they entered our premises, most people say that they felt very apprehensive about what to expect. Still, when they were leaving, they felt so much better. They did not realise that it would take away their anxiety.”
I asked Carl what he and his team do to make the experience for people one which would reduce their anxiety.
“This is a topic which Brett and I and the rest of our team discuss on a regular basis. We are still working at making Meridian funeral home feel like a place where people feel at home, but at the same time keeping everything professional. People are invited into Meridian without arranging a funeral. This will help them ease any worries that they may have, answer questions, or have a name put in the book of remembrance. We ask people to phone beforehand to make sure someone is available to see them.”
The book of remembrance is one of two ideas which appear to be really resonating with Meridian’s customers. The second idea is a ‘Memory Tree,’ where families can leave a message on a leaf on the memory tree.
Jacqueline Linn from Meridian commented, “People really like the memory tree. They may have seen it in one of our Facebook posts, and we get messages on there and people phoning up to ask about it. These are people who don’t have a funeral to discuss, but they still feel comfortable calling us to talk about how they can add a memory to the memory tree. On other occasions, we have had people visiting us who are going through arranging a funeral. They see the memory tree and ask about it. We get lots of nice comments like, “brilliant idea,” “fantastic idea,” one lady said, “it gives so much comfort, especially in these times. I can’t get out because of Covid, and I feel that I can’t grieve as I’d like to.”
Christine Jolly also works at Meridian, and it is one of her jobs to add new information to the company’s Facebook page. Christine has noticed how people are quite happy to engage with a funeral home using social media. “This is helping break down the barriers that perhaps used to exist more in the past to not only reduce the fear of funeral homes but actually giving people comfort by engaging with each other on social media and the Meridian team about people they have lost, and also the memorial book and the memory tree.”
As Jacqueline noted, “People who might in the past have seen funerals as a cold business, now see a warm business.”
Brett agrees, “Ours is a fourth generation business, so as a family we’ve been doing funerals in Chorley for a long time. It is so good to see people engaging with us, perhaps more than ever before by visiting us even when they don’t have a funeral to plan for and of course through social media on Facebook which has been amazing.”
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