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Empathy Blog Aug 9, 2021

Beyond the ceremony: Extending funeral homes’ support for families

Empathy was created to help families deal with loss, because losing a loved one is hard enough without the added burden of unfamiliar tasks, tricky bureaucracies, time-sensitive decisions, family tensions, and difficult conversations. 

This enormous challenge becomes obvious to most families right away, as all of these issues intersect in planning a funeral. While still in the intensity of fresh grief, they are suddenly tasked with planning a major event, a ceremony with many moving parts. 

They suddenly need to make a myriad of decisions and deal with a laundry list of logistical details: ordering flowers and programs, arranging for transportation from the house of worship to the cemetery, and even figuring out what their loved one will wear. And they need to do it all in a way that makes everyone feel comforted and supported, and that honors the memory and the legacy of their loved one.

Luckily, many families carry all of this out with the help of a funeral director, who provides all the guidance and resources they need, as well as a comforting voice and a steadying hand on their shoulder. Funeral directors’ whole job is to be there for families at this difficult time, making sure the burden of thousands of details, decisions, and duties doesn’t overwhelm them.

But anyone who has suffered a loss knows that these tasks don’t stop once the funeral is over. The funeral is just the first of many decisions and tasks that families continue to have to deal with for months to come—18 months on average, for a total of over 500 hours of added labor. Every new day can bring a new set of responsibilities. One week they’re searching for hundreds of important documents. Then they’re closing every account their loved one left open, canceling every subscription, ending every membership. Months down the road, it’s paying taxes, or going through the long, involved probate process.

The funeral is just the first of many decisions and tasks that families continue to have to deal with for months to come.

Each step on this arduous path involves the same difficult decisions, family conflicts, and emotionally draining conversations as the funeral. Most families are wholly unprepared for the level of effort or the commitment of time it will take; many tasks leave them stymied, not even knowing where to begin. What support there is out there is often limited to certain tasks and situations, or it is just hard to find or to follow. And that is where Empathy comes in.

Just like the funeral director offers the guidance, resources, and comfort families need for that first huge hurdle, the Empathy app is the steadying hand on the shoulder and source of constant support for families in the weeks and months that follow. A seamless union of tech solutions, like tools to simplify tasks, and human support, via our real-time helpline, Empathy is always there for bereaved families in whatever way they need.

Because of this, Empathy is truly a complementary service to those provided by funeral homes. For generations, funeral directors have been providing guidance and care for their local families from the moment they experience a loss, bringing them together with their communities to mourn and honor the dead. But then each family member returns to their respective homes and, separately, comes face to face with these detailed, often-isolating tasks and responsibilities. 

Just like a funeral director offers guidance, resources, and comfort for the funeral, the Empathy app is the steadying hand on the shoulder in the weeks and months that follow.

Technology like Empathy gives funeral directors an opportunity to extend that sense of communal care into the weeks and months that follow. The app becomes a bridge, remaining there for families when they need guidance, information, and emotional support. It also allows them to navigate the tricky details with other members of the family, no matter how far they have traveled from one another, through the app’s collaboration feature.

That is why we are proud today to announce our partnership with StoneMor, the operator of 70 funeral homes and over 300 cemeteries across 24 states and Puerto Rico. StoneMor will now provide Empathy as a service for all families who hold funerals with them. It is a groundbreaking union that joins local communities and relationships to universally accessible, far-reaching tech solutions. 

Empathy partnering with funeral homes represents a unique and exciting union of the local and the virtual, technology with a human touch, that deepens and brings out the best aspects of both. It makes good on that elusive promise of our ever-evolving society to produce technologies that support us universally without losing touch with the local, the personal, or the human.

Together with StoneMor, Empathy will be able to bring our personalized guidance to even more families, right at the time when they are often most in want of it. Extending our reach, by offering support right away during the intense emotional and logistical effort of funeral planning. It’s one important step on our journey to changing the way the world deals with loss.

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