When I was a little kid and my dad was teaching me how to cook, he used to say “don’t touch the stove top, it’s hot.” Of course, while he was standing there I didn’t touch it. However, the first time I was allowed to cook by myself, I had to touch the stove top. Guess what, it was hot! That was a lesson I had to learn because I didn’t want to be taught. Wish I would have listened.
We talk with families daily that are thinking about using our service. We know the value that it brings because we have learned the things that need to happen to close an estate. To do it right you need to have a clear mind, even temper, controlled emotions and the knowledge to know how to do it. This does not describe the families during the time after death.
One thing I have learned is that almost everyone says “it’s not a big estate and there isn’t much to do.” It’s said from a place of not understanding how much work there is, what things really do need to be completed that they aren’t aware of and a general reference that they don’t know what they are doing or how to do it. I can tell them the stove is hot but they have to touch it to find out themselves.
If I could tell a family anything it would be this. Please don’t think this will be done in a week or a month of even a year. You have no idea how many things are going to come up that you don’t know how to do. Ask for help, even if it’s not from us. We already know that the top of the stove is hot.
Can you think of things that DON’T have an “app” for them? Child birth, as much as women would probably love one; parenting, again, as much as we would like to have one some days; sleeping, I would love this one; showering, no way would I give up those; and somehow possibly unfairly, grieving.
When I get into my office in the morning, the first thing I do is start up the computer, check e-mails, go to my two favorite sites and quickly scan them, check the news, and print off my to do list. All of these require “apps” to run. Then I return e-mails, review reports from staff, take a look at the marketing plan, work on processes for the business; and a myriad of other tasks throughout the day. All of these things require “apps” as well.
But, when a family calls to ask about our service and how we can help them, there is no “app” for that. Taking time to listen, answer questions and reassure them that we understand and empathize with their situation takes a real person. Every conversation is different; each person is at a different point in the process. No “app” is required.
I’m a fan of most things that can make my life easier; make my work more efficient; help with communication to staff in field. However, I’m not a fan of taking away a human touch when one is really needed.
Regardless of how many “apps” there are that apply to any number of situations, when a family calls us, they are going to get the human “app” before anything else. Try it, it’s a great one!