Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How flexible are you?

Scott Darby,
Media Manager and
Certified Funeral Celebrant,
Camino del Sol Funeral Chapel
and Cremation Center
I am the last of my generation to join the family business. Before training to become a funeral celebrant, I had a thirty-year career experience that consisted of performance, theatre technology and finally event coordination. I consider myself to be somewhat of a Renaissance man, having had my hands in several pots along my career trajectory. I have lived in Chicago, New York City, Austin, and currently Phoenix. I come from the worlds of audience satisfaction and customer service.

We’ve all read the trade magazines and it’s no secret that cremation has taken over as the preferred method of disposition. This may not be great news to many of us in the business of memorialization. Me? I see it as a challenge. Coming from theatre and hospitality, I am used to hearing, “This is what we need. How do we make it happen?” I want to bring this attitude into the funeral industry. Instead of looking at this information as a hurdle, I challenge you to see it as an opportunity to make memorialization better than it has ever been.

I remember a car drive I recently took with my sister, Karen. We were driving down a palm tree-lined street. It was the beginning of monsoon season. I love a good thunderstorm and was expressing my excitement about the coming weather. The monsoons in Arizona can get pretty severe with high winds, rain, amazing lightning shows and huge claps of thunder.

I said to Karen, “I can’t believe there are so many palm trees around. They must get destroyed during the monsoons.”

“Actually,” she replied, “that’s why they are so tall and thin. They are very flexible and bend with the wind. They do very well in the weather.”

Since we are being honest, I have to let you in on a secret. I’m not supposed to be living in Phoenix. By now, I was supposed to have a very successful career as an actor on Broadway, and be lounging by my pool in the Hollywood Hills, reading scripts for my movie debut. What happened?!?
I tell you this story to drive home the importance of taking risks and being flexible with the results. Be the palm tree that bends in the wind and survives the highest of winds to grow even taller.

People and companies are working differently than they have in the past. The internet has made the mobile workplace not only tangible but successful. Small businesses have to fight for their market share against corporations. There’s no way around it, we have to learn a new ballgame. This sounds daunting, I know. But the way I see it, we have the chance to create an even deeper meaning for memorialization and its importance to society. The world is open to us. It is an exciting time to be in our industry. Let’s shift the paradigm from, “That’s how we’ve always done it,” to “This is what we need. How do we make it happen?”

Cremation is a new frontier and I beg of you, don’t waste this opportunity. I implore you to be willing to take a few curveballs in the face. I promise you, after getting a few in the kisser, you’ll learn how to dodge them.

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

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