How Can I Help? – NFDA Conference

It’s a question we should all be asking when someone we love and care about is going through a difficult chapter in life.

That’s why I was so excited to share this message with funeral directors from all around the world at the 2022 National Funeral Directors Association’s annual international conference.

Professionals in end-of-life care, death care, and after-death care from all over the world gathered in Baltimore, Maryland to connect, learn, share and grow. 

Caring and compassion is what they are all about. They work with grieving people every single day, and yet, even the most well-trained, most compassionate people still can struggle with supporting those who are in so much deep pain.

In my talk, based on the research I gathered and published in my book by the same name, I shared reasons why people back out of your life when you are grieving, as well as provided ways to offer support that really works. I also provided ways to work around sayings and actions that can be mistaken for a lack of caring and compassion, that many of us get caught up in.

As well as providing free resources anyone can use to help support people in their grieving journey.

I attended my first NFDA conference in Chicago in 2019, thanks to the generosity of funeral director and now friend, Tom Sproles from Indiana.

After attending that event, I was delighted to have been chosen to speak at their next conference scheduled for New Orleans. Unfortunately, it was canceled due to the pandemic. The next year I presented virtually, so I was especially excited to present this year in person and get to meet person to person with so many of the people I had previously only been working with virtually.

The entire conference was set up seamlessly.

From the time I arrived in Baltimore, I was able to check into my hotel, register for the conference, and pick up my access badge within minutes.

I headed straight for the expo hall to see if I could connect with people I knew and make new connections. 

The moment I walked into the huge expo hall I saw the friendly face of fellow grief care advocate Dr. Jason Troyer.

Then I headed over to the Career Center Cafe to hear my friend Tom Sproles talk about leadership.

That’s where I also got to meet the amazing Sara Moss, the Associate Director of Education for the NFDA. I had been working with Sara for a few years and yet this was the first time we met in person. 

I got to meet and learn about therapy dogs that were being trained so they could be delivered to a town in West Virginia, and caught up with Mike Crummit from right here in the Ohio Valley.

I then headed over to the Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions exhibit to reconnect with Brent Baird. Matthews Aurora sponsored my talk at the Ohio Funeral Directors Conference in May and Brent made my introduction and it was great to catch up with him again.

 The first day ended with dinner with fellow speaker Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death.

 We talked about how we both had former careers in television broadcasting and somehow ended up as authors and speakers in related fields. Gail writes and talks about  “end-of-life” issues, I talk about graduating from grief.

Early the next morning, I headed over to the convention hall for my presentation “How Can I Help?”

The best part of the experience for me was meeting with people after my talk who shared so many personal stories of grief, loss, and hurting, helping and healing.

When it all comes down to it, we all hurt and we can all do something to help each other heal. My message was shared to encourage people to not let fear stand in the way of stepping out in love.

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