2013-05-22 “The Lesson”

In Ontario, maintaining a Funeral Director’s License requires ongoing education and so a couple of weeks ago Gail and I did some training in London that will maintain our own personal Funeral Directors licenses. Although there was formal education that day, the greatest lesson came from the man I sat beside.
Many years ago, some people thought that it would be a sound business plan to own multiple Funeral Homes. They became known as “the syndicates” and they went around the country buying up as many Funeral Homes as they could. Owning multiple locations would allow them to have centralized services so that for instance, embalming could be done in one site eliminating the need to have embalmers in each location which also eliminated jobs. It also meant that shared resources such as cars which would minimize overhead and maximize profits. It meant that if one Funeral Home was busy and another one was not, that staff would be shifted around day to day as required.
The gentleman I sat beside works for one of the “Syndicates” and manages two Funeral Homes. When I told him about the Blenheim Community Funeral Home, he said “oh, you provide personal services”. He went on to say “we do hundreds of funerals and so to me you’re just a number. My company is on the stock exchange. I have to answer to investors”. How sad.
I believe in serving families with dignity and respect. Sometimes doing what I do means long hours and little sleep but at the end of the day, it’s important to me that I can walk down the street and look you in the eye with a clear conscience. I have never tried to talk anyone out of what they wanted or sell them something that they didn’t need because it would increase profit. Aunt Grace used to teach us in Sunday School “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and so I do. I treat every person who has died the way that I would have wanted my Mom to be treated and I loved my Mom very much. I believe in what I do.