“The world is so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we are in control of our own existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence.” -Paul Auster (actor and director)



Our pre-need person came into the office about in tears. She had made a phone call to a woman she met last year at a seminar. However, she did not dial the right phone number and reached a woman who gave her a piece of her mind.

This woman was screaming into the phone how she was an ambulance chaser and her son was barely out the door on his way to the hospital. How could she possibly be so heartless to call while he was still breathing?!

It was one of those fluke situations that could not have happened at a worse time. My coworker sincerely apologized, she briefly explained it was a wrong number and she was trying to reach someone else, and then she offered the most genuine words to the mother who was meeting her son at the hospital.

Afterwards, we consoled the poor pre-need gal and assured her that there was nothing she could do about it. She was rattled for the rest of the day and there was nothing we could do about it.


The next morning, our office gal came downstairs to an important staff meeting. She interrupted and grabbed our pre-need woman to tell her that she had a phone call. It was the woman from the day before. We knew it was urgent since she seldom interrupted the meetings.

My heart dropped, I just knew she was about to yell at her a second time. Watching her carefully through the doorway, I was shocked to see her smile and nod in agreement. After a long conversation and many notes, she got off the phone.

She took a first call. The woman’s son had passed away in the night after getting taken to the hospital. When the mother told the story of how rude it was that we had called so quickly, her family told her how absolutely far fetched it was that we would have even known he was taken by ambulance. The more they talked, the more they realized it was purely an accident.


Once he passed away, they started thinking about funeral homes. Being a very spiritual family, someone pointed out that maybe it was a sign from God and he was pointing out the funeral home to use.

We were located over 25 miles away from them, yet the decided to come by to meet us. They ended up staying and having his services at our facility. They were an amazing family.


As a pre-need person, there are going to be times when a cold call goes badly or an appointment takes a bad turn. It is so difficult to take the high road and tell the person what they want to hear. A sincere apology, an understanding agreement, or just silence is usually the best response.

A reaction is what is natural to most people. Tensing up, becoming defensive, or just blurting out something inappropriate are all things that are likely to occur. A response is a trained skill, it takes much practice. There is a distinct difference between the two and every pre-need specialist should learn more about the difference between responding and reacting.

Just take a breath and remember to respond, not react. That person will think more highly of you, and who knows, maybe they will use your services down the road because they were impressed by your class.



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