Thursday, April 23, 2015

To memorialize, or not to memorialize?

Karen Darby-Ritz,
Advance Planning Manager,
Camino del Sol Funeral
Chapel & Cremation Center
To memorialize, or not memorialize; that is the question. I'm taking some liberty with a quote from Shakespeare, but this question is definitely on many people’s minds.

I’m located in Arizona, where our projected cremation rate is nearly 67 percent this year. When I’m out in our community, people often ask me, “Why does memorialization matter?” Instead of being discouraged, I light up. I know that memorialization matters, and now I have an opportunity to share my passion and educate.

So what do I say?

First, memorialization gives us an opportunity to share our legacy. It’s important for future generations to know each of us existed. We have a rich history, and a cemetery or memorial park is where our history is permanently and publicly recorded.

Second, memorialization will help your family heal. When you give your family and friends a place to visit, share stories and acknowledge special dates and holidays, their healing process can continue in a healthy way.

Also, there are so many modern memorialization options. Your permanent memorial can be traditional or include color photographs that capture milestones from your life. It can be a in the ground or up on a niche tower; on a memorial rock or as part of a private estate monument.

Lastly, you matter! Deep down inside we all want to feel as if we had an impact on the world; if not the world at large, OUR world. We want to feel as though we’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Permanent memorialization is a way to leave your mark and remember that you mattered to so many special people.

So, to memorialize, or not to memorialize? There’s no question in my mind. The answer is a resounding, "YES!"

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Photo booth pictures become timeless memorial

Do you remember when Donna Darby-Walthall put out a call for great stories about memorial designs? We have our winner! It's Missy West, West Memorials in Memphis. She shared a very personal story about the memorial she created for her dad and brother:

"I have been a memorialist for 14 years and by far the most satisfying and happiest marker I have ever designed was for my brother and my dad.

"My brother, Brad, died in a motorcycle accident when we were teenagers. In 1986, his marker was chosen from a catalog. It was 'pine cones,' the most 'masculine' border suggestion the funeral home could offer. Interestingly, my brother and I kept up the yard at our dad's house. We would fight about whose turn it was to do the part of the yard where all the pine trees grew.

"When my dad died, he wanted to be buried with my brother. I knew exactly the picture I wanted to use for the marker. The picture was taken in a photo booth, in an arcade, on the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a fabulous vacation. The photo strip was a family treasure. It hung on several refrigerators or kitchen cabinets over the years. I submitted the very simple design to Trigard.

"I was with a client and my graphics department sent a text asking me to come back to the office - there was a surprise from Trigard.  I could not get things wrapped up fast enough.  I tore open the box and the marker was exactly the way I envisioned.  I cried and laughed.

"My husband, Paul, and I were in SC to arrange the inurnment of my dad's ashes. While in the funeral home, Paul took my brother's old marker from the granite base and replaced it with the new marker for my dad and brother. I was so thrilled to see it in place - I laughed and cried.

"I have a very strict rule for myself, as a memorialist - I never say 'I understand' to a family. It lessens the story being told. You truly do not understand how they feel, their love for a person, the sadness in their heart, the hope that they have for the future. No one could have understood the happiness I had the day I stood at my brother's and dad's grave. The piece of art I designed for these two guys from the picture that made us all giggle was right at my feet, just as I understood it should be."

Missy West
West Memorials, Memphis

Missy, we are so pleased to help you and your family celebrate their lives and transform those cherished family photographs into a timeless marker. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story!

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Can taking a vacation really be good for business?

Sheryl Baumeister,
Human Resources Manager
I'll bet you've seen the commercial with the cute kids who encourage us to take one more day of vacation - with some help from MasterCard. After hearing that more than 400 million vacation days go unused in America each year, one kid says, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

So, is this a credit card marketing ploy to get us all to run up debt, or does taking a vacation offer real advantages for you and your business?

Four in ten U.S. workers are leaving paid time off days on the table at the end of the year. At Trigard, every November/December presents a challenge to get the vacation hours whittled down below the “rollover” number. Some organizations don’t allow rollover and employees have to “use it or lose it, making the end of the year even more critical.”
As it turns out, taking a vacation can actually help your physical health. The stress of working any job can take a serious toll on your heart. Taking a vacation every two years compared to every six will lessen the risk of coronary heart disease or heart attacks.

Count on being more productive upon returning from vacation. Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.

One of the biggest benefits of taking vacation is how much it affects familial relationships. Family vacations increase family bonding, especially when a lot of the activities have to do with talking about memories or even sharing stressful moments together.

When you step away from the problems and stresses you’re facing, you’re bound to get a better perspective and come out with a more satisfying answer. Working all the time and getting things done might make you think you’re the king of the world, but your brain is feeling something different. Vacations can help you reset your mind.

Starting to feel a little burned out? That’s a perfect reason to take a vacation – especially because slowing down and stepping away will actually help reignite your passion and dedication. Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.

One of the main benefits of vacation time is that it can improve your mental health. Feelings of calm arise and relieve the stress, which allow the body and mind to heal in ways that couldn’t if it were under pressure.

So, as the chorus of adorable, heart-string-tugging children say in the commercial, “We’re not asking for much, we just want one more day.” Be sure you're taking it - and encouraging your employees to do the same!

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tips for a profitable Memorial Day

Jason Murphy,
Director of Family Services,
Sunset Funeral Home
and Memorial Park
Memorial Day is quickly approaching. Is your cemetery or memorial park ready? Here are some things that consistently work for us during the biggest weekend of the year.

Special Memorial Day visitor discounts. Every year, we offer exceptional savings to anyone who visits our memorial park during the holiday weekend. We include them in a newsletter that is distributed at our gates. Don’t forget to include an expiration date on your coupons to create a sense of urgency and drive sales during the summer months.

Walk the grounds. Send your sales staff out to walk your grounds to identify markers that need to be refinished, could be upgraded with a medallion or should be placed on granite. That list can be an incredible source for leads. Send letters to next of kin about the applicable offers you’re offering during Memorial Day. These aren’t huge sales, but they add up and can potentially lead to larger sales and pre-planning contracts once you get them in your office.

Get your gear ready.
It seems obvious, but make sure you have all of your tools and equipment ready in advance. We make sure we have golf carts ready to transport our staff or help a visitor explore the cemetery. In the carts, we have gentle cleaning supplies to help people make their loved one’s markers shine. We also have plenty of cemetery maps. Even if a counselor is helping someone identify a grave space, any face to face interaction increases your chance for future sales.

This year, make Memorial Day extra special. You have the opportunity to show off your beautiful grounds and to impress the families that visit. Make it count!

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at