Frazer Blog

Lifelong Learning: Recap of Our Favorite 2020 Virtual NFDA Sessions

by | Oct 26, 2020 | Funeral Personalization, Funeral Profession

Woman working from her couch

Just like that, the 2020 NFDA Convention has come and gone. With the virtual format, the NFDA sessions were still as interesting and engaging as usual, even though they weren’t in-person.  

The NFDA sessions covered a variety of important topics, from connecting with the LGBTQ+ community to practicing self-care during these uncertain times. In case you couldn’t attend all the sessions you wanted to, we’re doing a brief recap. 

Below are the highlights from a few of our favorite 2020 NFDA sessions! 

Connecting with the LGBTQ+ Community 

This session was led by Sara Murphy, Ph.D., CT who is a lecturer of thanatology at the University of Rhode Island and Funeral Director Tim McLoone of Fluehr Funeral Home. With this being the first-ever NFDA session to focus on this important topic, they were honored to share their knowledge. Below are a few tips and advice they shared. 

Educate Yourself 

To connect with and better serve the LGBTQ+ community, educate yourself and your staff. The LGBTQ+ community is constantly evolving, so it’s important to learn the proper vocabulary to use, how grief may look different for someone who identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, and other important subjects.  

For example, the LGBTQ+ community is more susceptible to disenfranchised grief. If someone isn’t accepted by their family after sharing their identity, they may not have the family support they want when grieving a loss. To make sure everyone has the support they need, create an educational grief guide.  

To prevent a hostile work environment, have clearly defined policies in your employee handbook stating that you don’t tolerate discrimination. This goes for when meeting with families and interacting with your coworkers. 

Show Your Support 

To show your support, find ways to show you’re accepting of all. For example, each state has different rules regarding death certificates. Because of this, those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community may not be properly identified and honored on their death certificates. To show your support, reach out to your state’s association to ask for the inclusion of all identities.  

There also are other small, yet impactful ways you can show your support. One idea is to fly a rainbow flag outside of your funeral home. You also can include a rainbow flag on your funeral home’s website.  

Becoming a Champion 

Led by Professional Speaker, Sportscaster, and Author Howard Kellman, this session went over the core principles of becoming a champion. Below are a few of the principles he covered: 

  1. Practice positive thinking — Remember, you’re in control of your own thoughts and attitude. When you’re feeling down, make a list of the things you’re grateful for. 
  2. Try something new — Push yourself to try new things and continue learning. You’re already doing this by reading this blog post. Great work! 
  3. Embrace teamwork — Together, everyone achieves more. Instead of tackling everything on your own, work together as a team to be more productive. 
  4. Listen to others — For teamwork to be successful, you need to listen to each other. A good rule to remember is to not listen to respond, but rather listen to understand. 
  5. Set goals — Kellman said that goal setters tend to work harder and achieve more than those who don’t set goals. They can even be small goals working up to a bigger goal. 

One last note that he left everyone with was to follow the platinum rule, not the golden rule. The golden rule is when you treat people the way you want to be treated, while the platinum rule is when you treat people the way they want to be treated. 

Buying or Selling? Acquisitions During a Pandemic 

This session was led by General Manager of Live Oak Bank Tim Bridgers, and he discussed some tips for succession planning or acquiring a new funeral home. He did such a great job of laying out all the steps that it made me want to start planning for selling the funeral home I don’t even have! Below are a few key takeaways from his session: 

Succession Planning 

For succession planning, Bridgers recommends beginning this at least three years in advance. Although, he said it’s never too early to start and the earlier, the better. You can even start thinking about it during your first year of business. It’s also important to note your reasoning for wanting to sell. This way, everyone involved has a clear understanding of your decisions, and you can make sure they’re what’s best for you and your funeral home. 

Acquiring a New Funeral Home 

Like with succession planning, have a clear understanding of your decisions. Also, make sure you have the time, savings, and resources needed to handle taking on another business. It may help to have an accountant, who preferably has experience in the funeral profession, help get all your financial files in order. 

COVID-19 Impact Summary 

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, write a clear and transparent COVID-19 impact summary. This can include how it has impacted your funeral home, the steps you’re taking to remain successful, and your post-pandemic plans. The more organized you are and the more planning you do, the easier the process will be for everyone. 

All Stressed Out and Ready to Blow 

Nancy Weil, the founder of the Laugh Academy and an OGR Member Resources Director, shared some simple, yet impactful strategies for relieving stress. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we know funeral directors and the families they serve are under more stress. By just taking a few minutes to do one of these exercises, it can help reduce your stress

First off, it’s important to know what triggers your stress. Maybe it’s a family who doesn’t get along during the arrangement conference. Or maybe it’s the long line at the coffee shop when you’re already running late. Then, ask yourself, is this a problem or just an inconvenience? And treat it accordingly. Also, know how your body shows stresses, such as if you get headaches or stomachaches, and listen to what it needs. 

To reduce your stress, try one of these activities: 

  1. Breathe — One breathing method is to take deep breaths and sigh when you exhale. Or you can hold your heart firmly while you breathe in and out. 
  2. Visualize — Close your eyes and picture your ideal calm setting. Is it your cabin? Or maybe, like me, it’s a beach. Remember, you can mentally go here whenever you want. 
  3. Move — Any type of exercise can help reduce your stress. For example, it can be as simple as taking your dog for a walk or trying a virtual yoga class. 
  4. Talk or Write — You can talk about your feelings to a trusted loved one. Or you can get your feelings out by typing them in a blank document and then deleting it. 
  5. Laugh — Weil said that laughter is just another way of breathing. To make sure you laugh at least once per day, have a go-to list of funny shows and videos to watch. 

What were your favorite NFDA sessions from the 2020 convention? Share them with us in the comments! 


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