Every life has milestones. Too often those events and memories are lost when a person dies. Here’s a simple solution. Take a few minutes to write out a brief chronology of your life. Most of us are too humble to think these that details matter to others, but they do. Imagine, for example, if you knew exactly where your great grandparents lived 100 years. Or where they went on their honeymoon in their Model A Ford.
I started this simple record keeping for myself last year. Since then I find myself drawn back to it from time to time, adding more events and details.
Here’s a sample of what your chronology could look like:
1950 Born, Indianapolis XYZ Hospital
1957 Started at Grade School #1 on 1st and Main Streets
1966 Enrolled at XYZ High School
1967 Bought my first car, a 1965 Volkswagen
1968 Our family drove to the Colorado Rockies in our station wagon for a two week vacation
1968 Finally made the honor roll my junior year, I was a late bloomer in the classroom
1970 Graduated from XYZ, enrolled at XYZ College in Chicago
I guarantee that you can write out the highlights of your life in less than an hour. Now imagine how helpful that simple list would be when anniversaries, funerals or other events come up. Imagine too how interesting it will be for your great grandchildren to see where you went on your honeymoon!
Bruce W. Buchanan
Bruce Buchanan is the owner of Flanner and Buchanan and also Buchanan Group, Inc. Bruce focuses on communications and customer experience issues for the company. He spent fifteen years in the communications field, including ten years as owner of his own business, after completing his Master’s Degree in Journalism at Ohio University in 1982.
As Easter rounds the corner, learn about the early burial traditions revisited in today’s “Green Burial’ movement. Join us Saturday April 7th at Washington Park North 2706 Kessler Blvd. West Dr. Indianapolis, Indian 46228 from 9-10a.m.. Seminars include products, industry trends, and conclude with an optional tour of Kessler Woods. Leave a lasting legacy of accountability and ecological responsibility
Many of our locations are getting a facelift. Not just a new coat of paint or new carpet like most funeral homes, but changes that TRANSFORM the facilities so real celebrations of life can take place.
Here is one example. Our Carmel (Indiana) funeral center now has a baby grand piano in its spacious lobby. The old “family room” in the chapel is now a “bistro” with tables for serving food and drink. We call this our Event Suite approach, which is “a flexible celebration space for any event or gathering.”
Our client families are asking for more service options, especially when cremation is involved. Flanner and Buchanan is dedicated to serving every need that families have when a death occurs. We are improving every aspect of our business, from the transfer team that picks up the deceased, to the event space where a celebration of life can occur.
At our Washington Park North location we went even further. We removed a large casket display room and converted the space into an Event Suite. Clients will now be able to choose from three distinctive different rooms. One of the spaces, The Garden Room, even offers an outdoor courtyard option.
Bruce Buchanan is co-owner of Flanner and Buchanan and also Buchanan Group, Inc. Bruce focuses on communications and customer experience issues for the company. He spent fifteen years in the communications field, including ten years as owner of his own business, after completing his Master’s Degree in Journalism at Ohio University in 1982.
Last July, Julie and Tim Sherer from St. Monica parish took care of their funeral arrangements through us here at Our Lady of Peace, along with an Abbey casket from St. Meinrad. In 1997 they had put their cemetery arrangements in place. They were raising a family and had only lived in the Indianapolis area for a few years when they made those cemetery arrangements...in their late 30s!
After getting beyond some of the other expenses of life, such as education, weddings, etc., they decided they had put off arranging the funeral side of things long enough. When they completed the funeral side, they were now in their early 50s. Sorry Tim and Julie, if I let a cat out of the bag!
Tim and Julie are a great example of dealing with something that has to be dealt with, sooner rather than later.
They have secured the peace of mind for themselves and their family, which comes with planning the inevitable, ahead of time. On the business side, they have guaranteed their prices now, opposed to what they will be if they live several decades longer.
Tim and Julie pretty much have it down to a phone call being made to put things in motion. That’s as good as it gets.
Don Masten is the manager of Our Lady of Peace Cemetery on the north side of Indianapolis. Don is also a Family Service Advisor and has been assisting families with their cemetery and funeral arrangements for over 17 years.
About three weeks ago, Susan Stewart (a family service adviser) and I were contacted by a woman in Florida about holding a memorial visitation and Mass of Christian Burial at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens for her daughter. Our challenge was to coordinate details long distance. Susan promptly emailed photos of Good Shepherd and Our Lady chapels to her. The woman also sent her sister-in-law to Oaklawn to look at both chapels.
The woman arrived in Indianapolis a few days before the Mass and came to see the chapel options in person. After Susan took her to both locations she returned to the office and said both felt claustrophobic. She said she would be more comfortable switching the Mass to a church, even though the obituary had already been published in the Star. Susan and I assured her that a perfect Mass could be held in Good Shepherd by "painting the picture" for her.
Over the following two days the Oaklawn staff transformed Good Shepherd into a "sanctuary" like the one she had envisioned. Jack, Tim, Jim, and Mike physically moved the heavy altar from Our Lady to the Good Shepherd chapel. Mike brought in a piano and hired Betty Staples to play traditional Catholic hymns. Father Phil Bowers from Holy Spirit Geist came to Good Shepherd and celebrated the Mass. Another member of the family did the traditional readings. The woman’s daughter’s favorite flowers were daisies, so a large basket of daisies was placed next to her urn, and guest relations staffers Nancy Elson and Carl Stewart handed a daisy to each person attending the service. The daughter had been a cheerleader at both Lawrence North and Indiana University, and many of her cheerleading friends attended the service. It was a heart-warming experience.
The family told us how extremely pleased they were with the creation of this “perfect” setting. I am so proud of our staff for “going the extra mile” to make it happen.
Carson Smith, a very traditional kind of guy, knew that his younger unconventional brother Robin deserved a send-off that reflected how he lived. He asked Flanner and Buchanan’s staff to create one for him.
Dressed in modest Harley wear, Carson welcomed more than three hundred of “Robo’s” (Robin’s) friends to his memorial service. Setting the mood for the memorial event was not any easy task but was accomplished with the assistance of family, friends and the Flanner and Buchanan team. Everything went off like clockwork.
To accomplish its goal our team transformed our entire Broad Ripple facility; complete with full buffet and bar. Robo’s Harley collection was displayed on chairs, stairs, and tables throughout the building. From shirts to mugs, friends were encouraged to take a piece of Robo with them as they left. Three hours of continuous hugs, laughter and stories ensued. Rarely, have I enjoyed myself so much.
Yes, I said enjoyed. From 8 p.m. to approximately 10 p.m. Carson, Robo’s older conservative brother, set the tone for everyone in attendance. I emphasize that point because Carson stepped out way beyond his own grief with the assistance of funeral director Andy Clayton, the Flanner and Buchanan team, and his family. Carson shared stories of Robin as a younger brother, as a college misfit, and as an unconventional community spirit.
Over several hours Carson opened the microphone to family and friends to learned how much “Robo” had impacted people’s lives. I was one of those people and as I listened, I could feel “Robo” grinning and nodding from above - still dressed in his Harley leather. Carson certainly received a gift from the unique cast of characters gathered at the event. He learned that his brother fully respected and loved him. Carson repeatedly heard that “Robo” valued his opinion and counted on him to be there if and when he needed him. Flanner and Buchanan had helped Carson say good-bye to his parents and now good-bye to his only brother. I believe he’s come to view Andy Clayton as an extension of his own family.
Thanks to everyone for helping me say good-bye!
I have an interesting story to share. I was speaking to a prospective bride recently about performing her wedding at the Community Life Center at Washington Park East Cemetery. I came to learn from her that our Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Center at Washington Park East happened to host the funeral for her father. That event helped motivate her to attend our bridal show this past February, where we met at my Celebrant wedding booth.
The upshot here is that she decided to have her wedding with us and I will be conducting it as celebrant.
Her experience of coming to Washington Park East for her father’s funeral, seeing the facility and meeting our people, showed her the complete value of what we have to offer. It is rewarding to see our customers go full circle from funeral to wedding and wedding to funeral. Of course we believe it is only natural.
Not long ago a woman walked in wanting information on cremation. I took her into the front office to sit down and talk. I asked her what type of cremation service we could provide her. She answered that she was following her husband’s wishes; he did not want a funeral. All he wanted was to be cremated, have a party, then have his ashes spread in the ocean.
I presented her with some options; I actually started with our direct cremation fee, explaining what was involved. I then presented our memorial service package. She immediately stopped me, because, as she had told me earlier, he did not want a service.
My response was; “No, but he does want a party.” I asked if she had priced out how much it would cost for a party at some of the event places here in Carmel. With little hesitation she asked to see our facilities. We were remodeling our western event space into a multi-use bistro at the time, so I asked to envision what it would be. She walked around, looked over the room and said she needed to think about it.
We went back to the office where she asked several questions. We compared charges for direct cremation and memorial service packages. After a little time, she opted for the memorial service package. She then decided she wanted to look at urns.
Author - Jerry Roberts is a funeral director and the manager of Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers - Carmel. He has led many of the company’s cremation service initiatives during his 28-year tenure with Flanner and Buchanan.
As the rain hammered the roof, I couldn't help reflecting on the families who are having funeral services today. I imagined a surviving spouse panicked about their family’s cemetery services and confused by alternative options their family might need to make.
So I thought I’d jot a quick note to reassure our readers that every day we are prepared to adapt to the weather. Our staff, much like local mail carriers, performs their services in all kinds of weather. In the spring they are able to work through heavy to moderate rain. Summer brings intense heat. Fall ushers in blustery winds and, of course, winter in Indiana has all mixtures and levels of snow, sleet and ice.
Each morning our cemetery grounds team advises our funeral staff on issues that might cause an inconvenience to our families coming to the park that day. Together they help reach a workable solution and your funeral director will call with suggestions before your service.
In any case, our team will be there to help your family for peace of mind and safety. If you are having a graveside service at one of our traditional cemeteries we will generally have a large tent assembled for your service. This tent can be modified to address issues of rain, snow, or wind. Artificial grass carpeting will be placed around the grave to protect your guests from the excessive moisture or cold ground during the service. The director may encourage your family and friends to gather closer together to shelter them from the wind or cold. The grounds team will advise your funeral professionals with the best route to approach the burial section if there has been excessive rain or ice. On occasion, and for the safety of your guests and our staff, formal services may be moved inside to an adjacent cemetery facility. If there is enough advance notice, we can also provide internet transmission of the services for your family’s convenience if they cannot be there for the service due to health or distance.
This is Indiana and the weather can change quickly. If there are severe weather alerts or warnings issued, our staff will adjust service needs with you and your guests’ safety in mind. Please dress appropriately for the weather and trust us to handle the rest.
Author – Barb Milton is the Vice President of Community Relations for Buchanan Group, Inc. Barb’s extensive industry background makes her a preferred guest speaker throughout the country regarding final expense decisions.
Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Centers
For all of my 28 years as a licensed funeral director in the state of Indiana I have been asked this question. For me the answer is simple, “I decided to do something where I could help and hopefully make a difference.”
I came to the funeral profession without the benefit of having other family members in the business. As one of five children, and the son of a minister, I was taught at an early age the value of helping others and of being of service to the community. So, when this vocation sparked an interest in me, it seemed a natural fit.
I feel an awesome responsibility has been given to me to care for families in their time of need. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work at Flanner and Buchanan for the past 23 years and I am proud to say when someone asked what to you do for a living, “I’m a funeral director.”
I started in the profession at the age of sixteen. There was a gentleman in our church who was attending mortuary school. He had traveled a long way in order to do so. This sparked an interest for me.
Over the years different mentors have taken the time to teach me the wide range of skills needed to be a funeral director. From mowing the lawn, landscaping, car washing, shoveling snow, to working visitations, working in the preparation room; and then helping families make arrangements.
Even today I look back on lessons I learned in those early years. Situations where I have needed the benefit of my mentor’s wisdom to serve a family at the highest capacity of service they expect.
My profession has afforded me so many opportunities within our community and our profession -- all a part of giving to a profession that blessed me so richly. I love the challenges of my profession and what it holds in the future. “What made you want to be a Funeral Director?” It’s simple, I want to help.