Would you want this job?

     Wow, who is going to answer that ad?

     The job title is “Family Service Counselor”.

     It could be an ad written for just about any cemetery or funeral home in the country.  These positions are filled with some of the most caring men and women in your community; and maybe even a friend or relative of yours works as a counselor. Almost all of them never knew that the job existed up until the time they answered the ad for the job.

     Very few young people ‘decide’ when they grow up that they want to become a family service counselor, or more succinctly put, a person who will ‘council a family on making cemetery and funeral arrangements’.   At the time of need, funeral arrangements must be made with a licensed funeral director.


Imagine every day that you get up and go to work that you know you will be meeting with sad people throughout the day. Every day you will try to guide a family through the difficult process of  ‘final disposition’  as the law likes to put it.  Break that down to ‘disposal of the human remains of a loved one’ and it is easy to see why survivors are not always very nice to family service people. Whether consciously or sub-consciously, people walking into a cemetery office know that they are about to turn their loved ones over to strangers who will inter them or cremate them or otherwise be ‘responsible’ for seeing to it that dad or mom or sis will never be seen again.

     Logic dictates that the counselor had nothing to do with your loss, but it is sometimes necessary to vent, and who better than the stranger who seems to be more concerned with all of his or her paperwork and making sure that the bill gets paid than they are concerned with what is going on in your heart and mind and soul?

     For those of you who have read this far, and are aghast at the seemingly insensitive language being used, I apologize. You can use all the flowery words that Webster’s holds within its pages and the words will not lesson your indescribable pain – the pain of knowing that such an important person in your life is gone. Only hours before a child was playing on the floor, laughing and being such a joy and just like that, a TV falls off a dresser and lives are changed forever.

     So many of our good citizens are out of work as this new year dawns upon us. Who doesn’t know of someone who has not been touched by the loss of a job during the past couple of years?  So, a position of family service counselor opens up and you apply for the job and son-of-a-gun if you don’t get hired for the position.  Nobody knows if they will like the job, or if the job will like them.  There is turnover in this field because it is a tough business. Not many people can empathize with a family who shows up to make cemetery arrangements and be good at all the detailed work involved.  As unfortunate as it may be, the cost of dying, or of final disposition, can be ridiculously high depending on choices made.  But what isn’t?

     In the case of Calumet Park Cemetery, there are more than160 developed acres of land ( 400-plus total acres owned by CPC ) to be maintained. There are more than five miles of roadway which need to be open for traffic 365 days of the year; bad or good weather.  There are thousands of trees, shrubs, hedges and fields upon fields of grass that must be cut each week throughout the growing months. There are  750 – 800 new families that need immediate attention throughout the year with tens of thousands in and out of the cemetery during the warm weather months who want all the resources of a cemetery to be available at their beck and call.

     Meeting with families, handling burials, and being available to help locate loved ones graves added on to the everyday upkeep of a cemetery and funeral home and it is surprising that it costs so little to make cemetery and funeral arrangements.  Everything and everyone has to be at their best, both the cemetery and funeral home personnel, at all times.

     Whether one burial is scheduled or 1,000, devotion to each family served is the hallmark of a well run and caring enterprise, and is expected. Whether one burial is scheduled or 1,000, all the grass still has to be cut, hedges trimmed, personnel paid, and on and on and on, all to ensure that you will be properly and courteously served when your time of need is upon you.

     So, those special people that run Calumet Park Cemetery and Funeral Chapel ask that you please be as respectful to them as you would like them to be to you.  They are just regular folks trying to earn a living so they can take care of their own families.  They want to be acknowledged as people there to serve you, and they are willing to accept your new reality and your struggle to understand why this death has occurred?  They don’t have the answers to such deep questions.  They are good listeners, though.  They do understand that the people they meet under such dire circumstances will act differently than they might act during normal times in their lives. They truly do want to help make the days following a death go as smoothly as possible for you and your loved ones.

     It is hard to believe that any person would continue in the position of family service counselor with all of the challenges faced every day unless they let the business get under their skin. For the true counselor, the business is one of helping their fellow man.
All the paydays that come and go have little meaning for a true counselor who answered the ad and said  “Yes, I am that person.”

     For such people, the big payday comes when they get their first genuine hug from a husband or wife or brother, sister or friend for a job well done. So, be kind to your family service counselor, and should you get a call from one who wishes to help you finalize your own arrangements in advance, look kindly upon the caller as they really want to help you help yourself.

     A phrase that is almost never heard by a family service counselor is this: “I wish I would not have taken care of this before I needed it.”  There is a depth of truth to the adage “It is better to have it –  final arrangements –  and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

     For those who have the courage to plan this part of their estate, you will be rewarded with peace of mind. Only before the time of need will you be able to arrange exactly what you want your funeral to look like, you will control the amount of money being spent, and once agreed upon, the price will never be higher.  Most importantly, though, you will spare your loved ones of having to make such tough decisions on the worst day of their lives because you cared enough to meet with a family service counselor or with your funeral director and made things happen. These caring family service counselors and funeral directors are very good and honest and hard working people are people like you, just regular folks doing needed and necessary work.
If you like what you hear, give a gift of love to your family that may not be appreciated until the time of need.
Since none of us knows when that time will be upon us, today would be the best day to find a place that you feel good about and make the commitment to meet with your family service counselor or funeral director on the good side of “final disposition.”   Only you hold the power to take control of this difficult part of life.  Call Daniel Moran at 219-769-8803 for more information or email a request to dmoran@calumetparkcemetery.com

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