Giving Thanks for Connection

Author and Funeral Director Chelsea Tolman shows us why the recipe for success is serving families with technology and care.

This week, I sat down with Chelsea Tolman, FD/Emb and Author, to discuss her new book, “Speaking of the Dead.” I knew Chelsea would have a way with words (she is a published author, after all), but what I didn’t know was how her insights on technology in the funeral profession would give me a greater understanding of connection with families. And given that it’s Thanksgiving, a time for celebrating connections, I’d like to share our discussion with all of you.


I asked Chelsea how she found her way into the funeral profession, but like many of us, it was the funeral profession that found her. After supporting several friends through funeral arrangements, Chelsea was impressed by how the director impacted those friends and families. She wondered, “Who is this person {the funeral director}?” She enrolled at Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service and the rest, as they say, is history.


But, not so fast. It’s her history. Her story. Her perspective that gives families in need a beautifully candid, yet old-soul anchor in funeral arrangements. Families can relate to her, yet see her as a knowledge-base. Families can relax with her, yet her experience guides them through their own journey.  This connectivity that Chelsea has isn’t something that’s taught, “either you have it or you don’t” as my Papa used to say. But Chelsea is no stranger to tech either. Her blog is online, her book is available in a kindle option, and we’re video chatting. So maybe this was my chance to ask a fellow director how she perceives technology playing a role in online funeral arrangements.


We both agreed that not only is technology the inevitable trend, but it’s something to be embraced in service of our families; to allow the human connection to blossom independently from the drudgery of the contracts, files, and paperwork. We talked about how technology like Parting Pro can bring directors back to the bond with families that they’ll remember: time spent sorting photos and planning a life’s celebration, not signatures on form, after form, after form. Perhaps more than anything, we both agree with technology used to further transparency, and simplicity with families, is exactly what the funeral profession needs.


Our discussion (click above to see/listen to the whole interview) started there and meandered through topics about what mortuary school was like in the early 2000’s, what her experience was like as a young woman in our profession. Her book, now available on Amazon, “Speaking of the Dead,” is a volume penned from her insight and introspection as a director. These aren’t merely stories about funeral service- they’re her stories about how it feels to serve. She even shared a snippet of her book with me, a passage that gives a poignant and insightful glimpse into her own question, “Who is this person?”


Subscribe to Parting Pro. Buy her book. Become the funeral director of today, while calling upon your service and experience of yesterday to comfort and care for families in need.

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