Posts Tagged ‘Beyond Indigo Funerals’

What to Say?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

crying  angel, figure on  Ixelles Cemetery (French:   CimetiereDear Kelly: I read your column on listening. However, sometimes one just must say something. What are the appropriate words to say when someone is grieving?

Dear Reader: Sometimes it is really hard to say just the right words to a person who is grieving. It can tend to be an awkward moment for both parties involved. The person who isn’t grieving stumbles around and tries to find something they think won’t offend the grieving person. This isn’t surprising since we aren’t taught how to grieve or to help a grieving person. At Beyond Indigo many of our grieving members talk about the words that are not helpful. One of our volunteers, Jim, lost his son two years ago and this is what he says about certain pat phrases people have given him and his feelings about these sayings.

“He (She) is with God!”  I am sure that is the case, but they shouldn’t be with God; they should be here with us. (more…)

Loosing Your Life Partner

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Question: So Many people lose their significant others. How can I help them cope?

Answer: No matter how long you have been married or living with your mate, their death comes as a shock. Your partner was your mate in life to help enjoy the good times, to endure the bad and make each day a little brighter. When you loose your mate you experience grief in different ways then if you had lost a parent, a sibling, a friend or a child.  Many times you have to restructure your life to reflect that there is just one person instead of two.  Depending on whether you are male or female will also determine how you respond to the loss of your mate. What makes losing your mate so different then other types of grief?

1.  If you are man, society may have a different assumption on how you should grieve and be less accepting of your grief. You might hear:

  • Be strong!
  • Don’t cry!
  • Move on why are you still sad?

You may actually have to tell people it is okay for you to grieve and you will cry if you want to. Remember people are uncomfortable around grieving people if they themselves have never grieved.

If you have been a caregiver you might be eating worse then when you were married or had a mate. Perhaps you have tended to have a less balance diet and have been eating many of the fried foods. Perhaps you aren’t eating many meals, or are skipping eating significant meals.

2. More Health Risks. People who hae lost a mate seem to be more likely to get sick physically and mentally. This is not overly surprising because of the intensity of grief you are facing but it is worth noting.

  • You have a greater chance of being depressed, even up to a couple of years after the loss of your spouse.
  • Elderly individuals may suffer low-level depression that could go unnoticed and be related to grief.
  • There is greater chance of suicide later in life…especially for mean without partners.
  • You immune system is weaker.
  • There is a higher chance of turning to addictive substances such as tobacoo, drugs and alcohol, which make you a risk for other health concerns.
  • If you had a great marriage or partnership, it is more likely your health will suffer after the loss.

Now it is important not to allow yourself to become depressed just by reading what can happen to your health. Cheer up. Forewarned is forearmed. You don’t have to be sick if you are aware of your health and keep an eye on it. Make sure that you eat well, or at the very least are mindful to eat something, sleep and drink plenty of water. It is the simple things that work, but they are also so easy to forget. If you start not feeling well don’t shove the thoughts aside thinking things will get better . Go to the doctor and be proactive instead of trying to get well later.

3. Adjusting is individual. People grieve at their own rate. People also adjust differently.

  • The younger you are when you have lost your mate the harder it is for you to adjust. The theory is that not only have you lost your “present” but you have also lost your “future”–depending on where you are in the life cycle.  People who have been married for 30 to 40 years have already lived a larger part of their life. Younger people have lost the future in children, grandchildren and other family events.
  • Remember each loss is not just a single loss. You have had multiple losses. You have lost the person to have a conversation with over dinner. The person to help you get dressed for fancy occasions or help with the maintenance of your house, doing groceries, laundry and bills. Be prepared for the pain from these losses to show up when you least expect it.

Going on in life without your mate will probably feel like you are starting over in some ways. It is hard journey to walk but it can be done. Remember to watch your health, have a good support system, and take care of your first. Grief is not a destination but a journey.

What is Value?

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Lately I have been struggling with the word “value”. We have been born in interesting times where everything changes. As soon as you buy the new “must have” it is instantly out of date. You drive a brand new car off the dealer’s lot and its value has depreciated by thousands of dollars. If so much is changing so quickly, where do we find value in what we buy for either our businesses or ourselves?  How do we know we are giving a solid value to our families with our services? What products or services can a service business comfortably purchase? Are we so used to helping others that we forget that there are services to help us.

This question of value caused me to search for the definition of value in the dictionary – on the Internet. I realized I did not own a hard copy dictionary anymore. Clearly, I do not see the value in keeping one on hand. I went to http://dictionary.reference.com/ and this is what it said:

  1. An amount, as of goods, services, or money, considered to be a fair and suitable equivalent for something else; a fair price or return.
  2. Monetary or material worth: the fluctuating value of gold and silver.
  3. Worth in usefulness or importance to the possessor; utility or merit: the value of an education.
  4. A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable: “The speech was a summons back to the patrician values of restraint and responsibility” (Jonathan Alter). (more…)

Death of a business

Monday, April 29th, 2013

A friend of mine was over recently for brunch. It was good to touch base with him to see how he was faring because he has just suffered a loss. Not a loss of a loved one or friend but the loss of his business. Death is not just about the loss of someone you have loved. Death is a transition and occurs in many places in our lives. Many times we experience these types of deaths and don’t even realize that we are walking through a grief journey over this loss.

As I sat there listening to my friend I could tell he was going through many of the same emotions as if a family member had died. He was experiencing:

  1. The loss of the future where his hopes and dreams had been invested. No longer would he be able to watch this creation, this entity grow. (more…)

Do’s & Don’ts

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Since people in our culture have not had much opportunity to be socialized regarding how to act at a funeral or how to be helpful to the bereaved, it falls upon professionals to assist people in these areas.

Below is a list that can be copied and given out at services, left at churches or presented in school classrooms. In the instances of particularly harsh or draining deaths, I would suggest that information about that loss is placed first on the handout. This helps the people who are grieving so that they do not have to repeat the same story ad nausea.

People on Beyond Indigo (www.beyondindigo.com) have told us repeatedly things that were NOT helpful for them while they were grieving.

Don’t Talk About God: Please don’t tell us our loved one is with God. We really would rather have our loved one still here with us on earth. Especially in the case of a deceased child the reminder he/she is not with us just hurts us more.

Don’t Bring A Ham: Right at the time of loss everyone feels like bringing us a meal. Please, if you know we have food to feed an army save your generosity for another time. I will be grieving for three to seven years. A meal will be really nice once everyone leaves after the funeral. (more…)

Moving On

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Question: After the funeral is over, families and friends resume their normal lives leaving many widows or widowers adrift in a home full of memories. Often their homes are packed full of things that need to be sorted through and given away. Some widows and widowers choose to move to another domicile due to finances or to be nearer to family members. This task often appears overwhelming. How do they tackle this big hurdle of moving or cleaning out their home? Any suggestions?

Answer: When a loved one dies a person usually suffers multiple losses. Part of these losses requires changing the way he/she lived before the loss to make a new life after the death. At some point, people are going to make this change by moving, or giving away items. They may need to sell possessions to make ends meet. This can be an extremely daunting task. Here are some suggestions that might help your families.

  1. Before A Death: If you are anticipating the death of a loved one, and it seems appropriate, discuss your future plans before he or she dies. Get their opinion. Talk to them about your ideas. Let them help you decide what personal items should go to people and/or organizations.
  1. Determine if a move is really necessary: Consult with a financial planner/CPA/relatives. Look at income and expenses to decide what the best possible method of living for you will be.
  1. Moving is a big change. Death is a big change. If possible, do not try to move closely on the heels of your loss. If possible, give time for the dust to settle, for a new routine to develop, and to look at places you want to go. Time will give you a more objective view of your situation.
  1. Make A List: Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish within the next year regarding your housing situation. Be specific. Make goals month by month. Enlist a “helper” to give you support. This could be someone to tell about your goals, and to help chart your progress each month. Look for someone to come into your domicile to help you organize, lift, sort, and remove.
  1. Inviting Friends & Family: If your loved one has died recently, invite friends and family over to take mementos NOW that belonged to that person. Have them go through clothes, tools, kitchen appliances, hobby materials, etc. and take what they want. Give the rest away to a worthy organization. Many organizations will come to your home and pick items up from the curb.
  1. Cleaning House: Prepare for your move by throwing lots of unnecessary things away. Think in terms of recycling vs. giving or throwing away. That is, if someone else can use it, that has recycle value. If not, throw it out to make room for fresh air and space in the rooms as well as your emotions.
  1. Thinking About The Move: Take this opportunity to look at your lifestyle. Do you like to golf, swim, play cards, or socialize? Any one of those types of activities could determine the type of housing looked at for a future place to live. Do you like a religiously oriented community? Do you want to share meals with other people?
  1. Your intuition: When considering any changes, remember to listen to your intuition, and let yourself be ruled not only by what your “head” says you should do, but by what your “heart” or “gut” tells you is the best choice for you. Ultimately, no matter how much advice you get from others, the choices to make changes are yours, and you can reach inside yourself to find the right answers.

Fasten Your Seatbelts – Google Changed Again

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Just as we were enjoying our summer, Google went quietly about making some significant changes to its algorithm that heavily impacts local businesses. If you want to understand how to keep being “seen” in Google, these new changes must be adapted in your practice’s online marketing program.

First Change: Google Search Results Went Hybrid

This past year, when we used Google for an online search, the results would show paid advertising at the top or far right (which only 25% of people click on), with local search results shown next — listed in packs of 7 or 10 and accompanied by corresponding map markers starting with the letter “A,”, followed by organic (non-local) results. Google has now integrated organic and local search results together, which currently display on the search results page in varying ways — in packs of 3, 5 or 7 for example, depending on the search query. Search results are still formatted with paid advertising at the top or right under the map on the results page, but you’ll now see organic results listed BEFORE, and blended with, local search results. How does a business become listed in this new hybrid format and at the top of local search results? What we have learned is to focus on the following:

  1. It is crucial to have a custom-designed website that can be optimized (coded) down to the page with local search terms, specific relevant industry keywords (funeral, cremation, obituary.), and appropriate geographic regional terms.
  1. When choosing location keywords, check how close your business is to the center of the city. To do this, go to Google Maps (maps.google.com) and type in your city and state; e.g., Minneapolis MN. Google will then display a marker on the map with the letter “A” — where it considers the center of the city to be located. This letter “A” is what Google calls the “centroid.” The closer your business is to the this centroid, the more “votes” your local business listing receives toward being near the top of local search results for that city. With this approach, Google is attempting to make the search experience most relevant to the searcher’s query.
  1. Plentiful (five or more) positive online reviews help maintain good positioning in Google Local Search. Google purchased the Zagat review site and is now incorporating these reviews into Google local listings. Reviews are becoming increasingly important. Having reviews associated with your business listing is yet another key ranking factor and one of the many signals Google looks for.

Second Change: Google Changed Mobile Search

Estimates indicate that by 2014–2015, more searches for information will be conducted on mobile devices then on a computer. Google has already started to adapt to this change by integrating online reviews with local search results for mobile devices. To see how this works, pick up a smart phone and search for your town, state, and funeral homes (example: Maple Grove MN funeral homes). Google shows a list of search results for this query. When a searcher clicks on one of the businesses listed, Google sends the searcher to information that is from the Google+ Local pages, including associated reviews for this business listing.

Many funeral homes I have seen are struggling with online reviews, claiming their Google+ Local page, and actively monitoring and engaging with people in this format. However, Google just forced your hand from reluctance to action. If your business doesn’t take control of it’s local listing page, encourage positive reviews, and interact with your customers in this arena, then searchers will see whatever Google happens to display on this page. Whether it is accurate, positive, engaging, or not — searchers will make their decision on credibility based on what they view. What does your listing say about you? The first step is to claim your business listing at www.google.com/placesforbusiness.

Third Change: Google Merged Google Places, Google+, and Zagat

Google recently began changing Google Local listings to Google+ Local, meaning it’s in the process of merging the Google+ interface with Google Places/local search listings. In addition, Google has now integrated Zagat and it’s way of rating businesses. Reviews on Google formerly used a star rating from 1 to 5 stars. The rating system has now changed to Zagat’s method, which is based on  a number system of 0 to 3 for individual reviews. Google takes these ratings, averages them, and then multiplies by 10 to arrive at an overall score.

These major changes are all happening at the same time. What does it mean for your business?

  1. Take the time to set up your Google+ page, since it also affects your Google+ Local area. Keep an eye on this area, as Google will continue making modifications as it rolls out the integration of these three platforms.
  1. Make sure you’ve chosen the most relevant category for your business listing, add any appropriate information as well as photos,, encourage positive reviews, and respond in a professional, educational fashion to negative reviews.

Finally, remember that your online marketing program is like driving a car. You need to know how to drive the car and fill it with gas, as well as know when to take it in for an oil change — but you’re not expected to build the car.

Content – Treat It Like Royalty

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Yawn—content is so boring, right? Why should we care about content? Throw a few words up on the page, call it good, and move on. Hold on! Not so fast. Content is the star player in any online marketing program. Key functions of content are:

  1. Search Engine Optimization Placement: Content plays a major role in how/where your website is placed on Google. In February 2011, Google made a change to its algorithm, emphasizing high-quality content as a key search engine optimization requirement. This change was called Panda. Bottom line—template content is out and original content http://www.beyondfunerals.com/blog/2012/10/content-–-trea…t-like-royaltyis now “in.”
  2. Education: As consumers, we know about cars, food products, cleaning products, and beer because of the amount of advertising we have seen on these subjects. However, we know minuscule amounts of information about funeral homes and their services and why we should pay for it. We just know as a family member that we “sorta need it.” The job of content is to educate people about what the service is, the benefits of the services, and, frankly, why people should pay to have that service conducted.
  3. Engagement: If the content on your Internet marketing platforms is stale, boring, flat, and so on, then why should the consumer read it? The content needs to be written correctly in the proper style for the platform (website, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, eNewsletter, YouTube, newsletters, and so on) where it is placed, and it needs to ENGAGE the reader. If the content is not compelling, why should the consumer read it and, more importantly, why should they come back?

Placement for Engagement

Multiple times I have been asked: “Can I write the content once and copy and paste it across all my platforms?” No. Resist this urge to write material once, check the box, and just plaster it out there willy-nilly. You will lose your audience. Each platform has its own style and guidelines for the way content should be displayed, the length, and the tone of how it is delivered. Sure, the message across all the platforms can and should be the same, but the exact content in each place needs to be avoided. General guidelines are as follows:

  1. Online Review Areas: Everywhere people can leave you reviews online must be managed and monitored. The content on these pages needs to be accurate and updated on a regular basis. Once a review is left, then a thank you note needs to be given for positive reviews and an educational note placed for a crabby review. Each thank you/educational note needs to be unique to the post and should not be a standard reply.
  2. Website: Most funeral directors websites I see fall down on the job when explaining the services they offer and why people should use them. Website content needs to be 400 to 500 words per page, needs to educate the family member on what the facility does and why they provide those services, and it needs to be optimized (coded) to be found in Google. The content style needs to be informative and educational in nature. Because protocols do not change every week in the funeral home, do not expect to change content about what services you provide on a constant basis. Instead, a blog should be used for weekly educational updates. 
  3. Blog: Confusion reigns over what in the heck a blog is. Think of it as an online magazine that is educational in nature. Resist putting cute updates about the office pet on a blog (those type of updates go on Facebook/social media). Focus on short paragraphs, bullet points, and easy to understand educational topics that are timely. For example, during the holidays would be a post about reaching out to loved ones especially the elderly.
  4. Social Media Platforms: A good framework for the tone and style of social media is a coffee shop. Conversations on social media areas are fun, chit chatty, ongoing conversations with a hint of education thrown in for flavor. Numerous times I have heard funeral directors say they wrote a beautiful article that is educational in nature and are disappointment nobody thought it was useful on Facebook. However, the picture of the office cat doing something cute went viral. The educational piece is great but needs to be placed on a blog. Correct placement is everything with content.

Monitor Its Success

Marketing needs to be monitored to make sure it is generating the results that are desired. Are people engaging with the content? Are they reading it? Is the post/page/tweet being passed to other people? To find out, monitor the statistics. Each platform mentioned above has its own statistics program that is included or can be added to determine the success of the created content. Monitoring, adjusting, and changing the content based on results is an ongoing process—but a necessary one.

Do you own your domain?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Most people think they own their own domain name but they do not. A quick and easy way to check is to go to www.GoDaddy.com  and type in your domain name in the box in the middle of the page.

Another page will come up saying the domain name is already taken. In tiny letters next to the name it will tell you that you can view the domain’s WHOIS listing. Click this link. GoDaddy then will display the information about the domain name and who owns it. (If multiple requests are made at some point an intermediary page will come requesting that you enter the letters seen in the graphic box. This is a spam filter protection).

Look for the word REGISTRANT. Under or next to this word should be the name of the business or one of the owners name’s. If someone else’s name or business name is listed here then your company does not own its domain name. The company/individual that is listed there owns your domain name instead.

Don’t own your domain name? There are a few options open to you. First, you can ask nicely to have the domain name returned to your ownership. Some companies will say then they can’t manage your domain name without it being in their name. There isn’t anything to manage except to pay the Registrar (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Etc.) when your domain name is about to expire. Another myth that is perpetuated by some website vendors is that they cannot manage your website without being in control of the domain name. This is false. Your domain name should always be in your own name.

If the vendor will not turn over the domain name to you then you need to see if your business name is trademarked. If it is then you have a high chance of getting it back. By law the vendor has to sell your domain name back to your company for cost if certain criteria are met (For more information go to http://www.icann.org/en/udrp/udrp-policy-24oct99.htm). If your business name is not trademarked then the only other recourse you have is through legal action or the selection of a new domain name.

Funeral Directors vs. Grievers: How each views the world

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Older couple with laptopAfter speaking to hundreds of funeral directors in 2011, our Founder/CEO Kelly Baltzell, MA pinpointed several differences between funeral professionals and members of grieving families.

Funeral directors tend to be check-the-box, face-to-face people. They like to cross out items on checklists and be “done.” Even though they may have a website, they don’t take it one step deeper to see who’s visiting it or what kind of results they’re getting. Many funeral home owners also still advertise in the Yellow Pages, even though only 5-10% of them actually use the Yellow Pages to find information.

Grieving individuals, on the other hand, seek online obituaries/memorials, grief support information, and message boards. They have smart phones, make constant online searches, and use social media. Sites like our very own Grieving.com and Facebook.com/mygriefsupport bring them a significant amount of comfort and healing.

Many funeral professionals think that their clients aren’t online and that people over the age of 40 don’t use the Internet. They also use social media sparingly and haven’t warmed up to the concept of Facebook. This data sheet from the Pew Research Center shows for certain that people of all ages use the Internet.

Families and grieving individuals love Facebook because they find great healing from connecting with family members, friends, coworkers, and businesses.

Funeral professionals must make the most of their online presences if they want to form meaningful connections with families. What does your Internet presence say about your business? Time to find out and take action in 2012. Contact Kelly at 877-244-9322, ext. 1 or kelly@beyondindigo.com for a free consultation.

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