Article Category: Passions | Pillars | SC23
Jacquelyn Taylor | Thinking Coach

Jacquelyn Taylor, PhD | The Thinking Coach

Posted Friday, Mar 01
Written By Luke Teague
Former Executive Director New England Institute of Funeral Service
Southern Calls, Vol. 23, March 2019

Imagine the soundtrack of your life. Focus on an artist who plays the acoustic guitar. Whether you love James Taylor, Bob Dylan or Joan Baez or favor newer musicians such as Dave Matthews, Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift, the sound of an acoustic guitar is unarguably magnificent. With a resonance ranging from dark, mellow and low to bright, warm and vibrant, the remarkably varied voice of a guitar is influenced by its age, tone wood and the player fretting the neck. Scratches, scrapes and splits, of different size and severity, are visible in the decades-old spruce top and rosewood back. While the outward scars compose the character of the instrument, the heart and soul lies within the richness of its tone and the nuances of the notes played – reverberating a lifetime filled with love, laughter, heartache and pain. 

Compiling songs with each chapter, some welcome and others better forgotten, the soundtracks of our lives are distinctive, personal and important and so should the funeral service that will one day symbolize our deaths. 

“If someone’s mother enjoyed Patsy Cline, we should play that at her funeral. I served high tea to over 1,500 people on fine china and once directed a funeral on a baseball diamond,” explained Jacquelyn Taylor, a leading proponent of providing funerals adapted to an individual’s specific interests or wishes, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. 

In an era marked by an enormous rise in cremation, many have decided to forgo the traditional funeral rite and instead opt for direct disposition, severely minimizing the role of the funeral director. 

“Funeral service is facing an adaptive challenge which is closing the gap between stated values and current reality. We must continue to move the dial forward in hopes of changing the public’s perception regarding funeral directors and the importance of a funeral ceremony. Avoiding the ritual does a disservice to the life that has been lived and allows the survivors to deny what has really happened to them,” said Taylor. 

Often, a funeral director claiming to have a presumption about the wishes of an individual can be a detriment to the family.

“Even a rising young executive can have a bad hair day.”
“Even a rising young executive can have a bad hair day.”

“Ignorance can lead to resistance. If a family is unaware of the variety of services provided by the funeral home, they may choose to arrange a ceremony themselves. Consequently, if a funeral director is unable to educate a family regarding their options or refuses to accommodate an unusual but reasonable request, this is also harmful to the funeral home’s reputation,” Taylor said. 

“Despite what the anti-funeral lobby says, we should never be afraid to offer our professional services. Are we going to serve families or are we just  going through the motions to get through the day? It is imperative to either lead, follow or get out of the way. Since the beginning of my career, I have held the very same beliefs and never forgotten -what a privilege it is to take care of the dead.” 

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