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.” 

The remainder of this article is reserved for subscribers only

In addition to receiving all of our quarterly magazines by mail, subscribers to Southern Calls have exclusive access to additional online articles, as well as ability to read all Southern Calls magazine articles as they come available.

Get your One Year or Two Year subscription today, or login here to continue viewing the rest of the article. 

Order this issue

Southern Calls Issue 23

In stock

Articles Relating to Issue 23

Remembering Jacquelyn Taylor

Remembering Jacquelyn Taylor

In a career that came full-circle, the enduring and steadfast funeral service advocate was excited about the opportunity to continue her life’s work. But on August 10, 2018 Jacquelyn Taylor was diagnosed with breast cancer and on September 4, 2019 the cancer returned…

The Metzlers of Arlington National Cemetery

The Metzlers of Arlington National Cemetery

Imagine living in Arlington National Cemetery, where every street and lane is a veritable history lesson. Some are named for American presidents and others for military leaders from every war – all buttressed by row upon row of graves and their markers, constant…

Paradise, California Wildfire

Paradise, California Wildfire

Nestled at 1,700 feet in the northwest foothills of the Central Valley in the Sierras, Paradise, California, is 100 miles northeast of the capital city of Sacramento, 10 miles north of Oroville and eight miles east of the Chico metro area. Located in Butte County,…

Other Recent Articles

Issue 38 Available for Pre-Order!

Issue 38 Available for Pre-Order!

Featuring our exclusive article with the staff from Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home on the tragedy at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, Southern Calls Issue 38 brings you the details from a funeral director's perspective. And, as always, our December issue of Southern...

read more
Issue 37 Available Now!

Issue 37 Available Now!

What a unique collection of articles we have put together for our September issue -- read about the extraordinary details of the life and death of the world famous P.T. Barnum and his friend and performer General Tom Thumb, with lots of interesting facts and images...

read more
Jim Kurtz

Jim Kurtz

We probably have never met, but you may have seen me before. I was that little guy watching funerals from the steps of the Catholic school across the street from Galloway & Sons Funeral Home in Beeville, Texas. I especially loved seeing the big cars that led the...

read more
Bibber Memorial Chapel

Bibber Memorial Chapel

The air smells briny and gulls caw overhead. In the distance, against the backdrop of an iron-colored horizon, a few hearty lobstermen trawl the sea, braving the frigid temperatures. It’s snowing again, but that’s not newsworthy. It’s winter in Maine. Three miles up...

read more
Rhonda Keyes Pleasants

Rhonda Keyes Pleasants

Before reading any further, pause for a moment and reflect on your career, regardless of your age or your job title. Reminisce about opportunities that were afforded to you, both past and present. Consider equally decisions you made with the excitement of future...

read more
Issue 36 Available Now!

Issue 36 Available Now!

See the beauty and honor of the funeral profession reflected through a father’s eyes as he documents the passing of his beloved son – every funeral director should own this issue. Mitchell’s Journey is a moving tribute to unconditional love as a grieving family...

read more

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter to periodically receive article updates, industry news, and details about new issues before they are released.

The Magazine