A man at a table with two laptops

 

Written by Jacob Terranova

 

Couldn’t make it to Boston for the 2017 NFDA Convention? Or didn’t have time to go to all the workshops? We’ve got you covered with highlights from some of our favorite workshops we attended.

 

This is part three of a five-part series about some of the informative 2017 NFDA Convention workshops.

 

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Transforming Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma

In this session given by Beth Reynolds-Lewis and Kay Glidden, two certified compassion fatigue specialists, we learned that self-care is crucial for today’s funeral directors. Unfortunately, self-care is not something that’s typically taught within the profession.

 

The lack of understanding surrounding self-care can lead to negative effects for funeral directors, mainly compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma. Let’s talk about what they are.

 

Burnout can happen to anyone, in any job. It’s a physical and emotional exhaustion that results from prolonged stress and frustration from one’s job.

 

Compassion fatigue is more extreme. It has similar symptoms as burnout but results in the profound stress that caregivers experience when caring for people firsthand. Compassion fatigue is common in the funeral profession. It’s also found in other caregiving roles, such as hospice, nursing, and other medical fields.

 

Vicarious trauma is when caregivers/funeral professionals experience a shift in their worldview when working with people who’ve experienced firsthand trauma. It’s essentially a dramatic change in your personality and perception of the world. And it can be damaging to your personal and professional relationships.

 

While they are all different, burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma all have similar signs and symptoms. They can include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Cynicism
  • Loss of hope
  • Anger and irritability
  • Absenteeism
  • Compromised care for clients
  • Negative self-image

Try taking a moment to fill out this quiz. It will let you know your professional quality of life and whether or not you’re at risk of compassion fatigue, burnout, or vicarious trauma.

 

Also, check out NFDA’s new Work/Life Resource Program. The new program offers several free resources to NFDA members and their families. According to the NFDA, the program is designed “to help members find balance between a fulfilling career and meaningful life outside of the funeral home…”

 

The Work/Life Resource Program includes counseling services, education and family care services, financial counseling, legal services, and several online resources that cover depression, stress management, communication, and much more. Click here to learn more about the program’s benefits.

 

It’s Easy Being Green: Getting Started With NFDA’s Green Funeral Practices Program

James Olson, the owner of Olson Funeral Home and Cremation Service, walked us through several ways a funeral home can adapt to the green movement — and grow their business by doing so.

 

Olson mentioned there are five areas for “greening” your funeral home. Below are the five categories and suggestions for each:

 

Funeral Home Office

  • Commit to a paperless office.
  • Switch to green vehicles and hearses.
  • Practice waste prevention and composting.
  • Use recycled water.
  • Join a local co-op for organic foods and flowers.

Funeral Home Facility

  • Use alternative energy sources such as solar power from the utility company, or install your own solar panels.
  • Install timers, dimmers, and motion sensors on lighting. In the session, Olson said that by using a dimmer to dim the lights to about 50%, you can save on average $12 a year per light. He then said he installed them on all 112 switches in his funeral home. That’s saving more than $1,300 annually.
  • Use flow restrictors on faucets to limit water waste.

Funeral Products

  • Offer families eco-friendly caskets.
  • Use caskets from recycled wood and other recycled or reclaimed materials.
  • Invest in alternative urns such as paper, seagrass, and bamboo.

Prep Room

  • Practice dry ice embalming.
  • Invest in a waterless aspirator.
  • Use formaldehyde-free embalming products.
  • Start using corn starch body bags.
  • Look into cremation alternatives, such as alkaline hydrolysis and EcoLation.

Cemetery/Burial Solutions

  • Look into natural burial grounds in your community. And if there aren’t any, ask how local cemeteries can help accommodate the green burial movement. Olson mentioned that there are hybrid cemeteries available that offer both green and traditional burials.
  • Offer traditional burial linens and shrouds — those typically offered to specific religious groups — to every family you serve.
  • Olson also mentioned multiple urn burials — around 24 or so urns per gravesite. His idea was to have cemeteries charge for each time they place an urn in the same burial site. It would make more money and use less land than the current method, which limits the number of urns allowed (typically two per gravesite).

In addition to the above advice, Olson also discussed the NFDA’s Green Funeral Practices Certificate Program. The program helps establish green practices for your funeral home. It also benefits your business by creative positive media exposure, showcases your community compassion for the environment, and offers a unique selling point over your competitors.

 

Did you attend any of these NFDA Convention workshops? What did you learn from them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!