When a grieving family walks through your funeral home’s doors, they are entering your care. You try to ease their burdens, whether it be by planning a memorable tribute and peaceful reception or by providing comfort and emotional support. MKJ has even worked with funeral homes that go a step further to care for clients, by having formal grief resources, including aftercare programs, support groups, and grief libraries.
Caring for families is a foundational part of the funeral business and it is a foundation we share with hospice care providers. Hospice is the long-term care of a patient with a chronic or severe condition that primarily focuses on pain management. While not always the case, a majority of patients who enter hospice do pass away while in the program, in fact, 44.6% of all deaths in the United States occur in hospice, according to John Hopkins Medicine. In 2011, 1.65 million people were in a hospice program. 83.3% of those patients are 65 or older, and more than 1-in-3 are over 85.
Hospice care is designed for patients that are approaching the end of their lives. In the funeral industry, we mostly deal with grief after a loss, but hospice care handles “anticipatory grief” or grief for a future loss. Different hospice programs counsel families through this process in varying ways, but one hurdle they all must conquer is acceptance. Understandably, it can be very difficult to accept that a loved one is going to pass away. In fact, one exercise many hospice programs use to help families reach acceptance is planning a funeral. Prearranging a service helps the reality of the situation set in, but it also gives patients and families a sense of control. At a time when so many options have been taken from them, patients get to make choices for themselves as they personalize their service. They get to choose how they will be remembered, and families can find peace in the knowledge that all their loved one’s wishes will be honored.
Making funeral arrangements is such a vital component of handling anticipatory grief, which is why it is so important that funeral homes work with local hospice programs. Simply making information about your preplanning services available can help families and patients deal with an approaching loss. You can host preplanning seminars at a local hospice facility with professional MKJ presentations and branded brochures. For those homes with an MKJ custom website, hospice-specific resources can even be added online, possibly on a preplanning page.
If your home wants to do even more to comfort families in hospice, our “A Guide for Helping Through the Final Stages of Life” is the perfect marketing program. The guide delicately answers all of the difficult questions families have about preparing for a loved one’s passing, including advice on when to enter a hospice program and how to approach the topic of preplanning. When you order these guides for your home, MKJ will personalize them with your logo and businesses information, to match your branding. We can then work with you to organize an event to introduce the concept and partnership to local hospice leadership to start to form referral relationships.