Sharing the Message of “How Can I Help?”

October is a fine time to travel to Atlantic City, as I had the opportunity to speak at the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association Convention and Expo.

This year’s convention was held at Harrah’s and featured a huge exhibit hall that gave participants a first hand look at what new and up and coming products and services are being offered in the funeral industry, as well as a number of speakers who provided presentations and information for continuing education credits.

I was asked to deliver my “How Can I Help?” presentation on the first and second day of the conference.

This talk is an extension of my best selling book “How Can I Help?”, and in it I talk openly and honestly about losing my son, some of our best friends and my career in the course of a year’s time.

I also discuss the importance of stepping out in love and compassion to offer comfort, support and love to those grieving, no matter how scared, or ill equipped someone may feel.

But one of the most helpful parts of this presentation is where we talk about the missteps many  people do and say that are not so helpful and then I offer tips on how to course correct those awkward moments so we can do and say things differently, making them much more helpful.

 This talk is one of my most well received, and what is most moving to me, are the stories many of these funeral professionals share with after I’m done speaking. They tell me about their own person struggles with loss and grief or about families they have served, that have changed them in some manner.

One woman told me how she is now feeling called to do more in the area of providing grief services, because of the time she takes with families as they grieve. She says despite her colleagues joking with her about the extra time she takes with people, she feels it is necessary to allow them time and provide them an opportunity to feel the waves of emotions that come over them.

I have to say that this makes me giddy with excitement and I wholeheartedly agree with the way she is helping people through the funeral process. To be able to give this gift to families is a real blessing that I am sure will pay off in the future.

Another man shared with me a story that happened very early in his career. He told me about what a pastor said to a family during the funeral of their infant daughter who lived for only 27 minutes.

That Pastor asked the family, “If God had said to you, I have a beautiful daughter for you. But she can only stay for 27 minutes. Would you still want her?”

He told me that question had stuck with him throughout the years. So much so that he would occasionally visit the little girl’s grave over the years.

He then said, I know her parents have since died but sometimes I go and place something on her grave.

These are just a few of the many stories these amazing men and women have shared with me. I think it is important for you to know that they care about what they do and see what they do as not just necessary but very important work. Many believe it is mission driven.

What they do daily is challenging and some days might seem like it’s next to impossible to bear. It’s work most of us don’t like to talk about let alone do.

To each and every person that came up to talk to me, I thank you and I hope that I was able to touch your hearts in some small way in the time we spent together.

And if I encouraged just one person to step out in love even when they are afraid, then I feel I have successfully done my job.

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