About four weeks ago, I took quite a leap and relocated my office out of Life Celebration headquarters and into my former attic, which is well on its way to becoming a chic and comfortable home office. One of the goals of the move was to unleash me into a world of productivity, creativeness, discovery, and learning. My hopes were high that in my new space I would become a fountain of miraculous marketing messages that would turn any nonbeliever, or at least someone on the fence, into a disciple of the Life Celebration Approach. Naturally, one of the first boxes I wanted to tick off of my tome of a to-do-list was to conquer the Life Celebration elevator speech. Over the years, we’ve taken a myriad of different approaches in attempts to convey our what, our how, and our why. After our countless explanations (verbal, non-verbal, and everything in between), without fail, a trusty question always comes up after our explanation: “So what exactly is Life Celebration?” You see, no matter how many clever or imaginative ways we try to communicate our mission, message, and purpose to our prospective clientele (funeral home owners across America) only select few “get it,” and the majority do not.
In October of 2017, we even built a mock Life Celebration Home and plunked it on the floor of the National Funeral Directors Convention in Boston, yet we were still asked the question, “so what is it you all do now?” As Community Member Frank Joyce has said for years, “trying to explain Life Celebration is like trying to describe the color Red to a blind person,” next to impossible.
(Apparently showing them doesn’t help either, but I digress)
But at last! There I was, in my own space and in my own time, surely now I could come up with the magical line that would forever reveal what the Life Celebration Experience actually is.
Not so fast,
The newfound comfort of my home office did little to aid me on my quest to find this one magical message that had eluded us all these years. I was as much in the dark as I had ever been while in the office. Except, at home there was one blaring difference, I could play music and listen to podcasts without concern of annoying anyone other than my cat, Ray. One day last week I stumbled upon a clip of a radio show that co-author of The Experience Economy, Joe Pine, had been a panelist on. This obviously wasn’t the first time I’d listened to or read Joe’s teachings of the value of an experience, but for the first time, in my own space and in my own time, I heard him.
Pine says that experiences happen inside of us. In other words, experiences come from within us, beneath the surface, and they engage us in an inherently personal way, and it is our individual reactions to the staged event that births a memorable experience. How silly of me to think I could properly explain the magic behind each Life Celebration Experience to someone who hasn’t experienced it first hand as an immersed participant (stager/funeral home team member) or as an attendee (family, friend, guest of deceased).
“Bingo!” I said to myself, and to my cat, Ray who happened to be lounging on the corner of my desk. Just like that, gone were the days where I agonized about taking sales calls only to hear frustration and sighing on the other end of the line when inquiring parties weren’t satisfied with my “sales pitch” or “elevator speech.” Because how can you “sell” a Life Celebration Experience? You can’t, because the Life Celebration Experience is priceless, as a stager of the event and a participant.
Next, I thought about our current Community. You embarked on a risk and chose to take an incredible leap of faith to join our community. We didn’t have to beg or convince you to join, nor did we have to have the shiniest new offering out on the market to attract you to want to join our Community. And it didn’t take a Shakespearean sonnet to convince you to join our movement. You believed in us; you believed in our message, our passion, and the healing power a Life Celebration Experience. It took all of the courage and faith you had to believe in a better way for your client families to heal. You saw the worth and value that creating memorable experiences has on families during the most trying times of their lives. You believed in the transformation that happens to families after they experience a Life Celebration at one of our Community Homes.
Now, I want us to show the world what we are doing for the communities in America and in Chesley, Ontario. I would be delighted if you could flood my inbox with all of the wonderful photos, comments, and videos you have, because for some, seeing is believing, and if that’s what it takes to finally get someone to teach their Community another way to overcome grief and begin to heal, then so be it! We are the Life Celebration Community, and we create memorable and healing experiences.
Thank you, Community: you are the message, you are the movement, you are the reason love goes on after death.
Pine, Joseph. Interview by Guy Raz. TED Radio Hour, 9 May 2014, https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=308754264
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