Aftercare director walks grieving families through next steps

Twenty years ago, Stuhr Funeral Home decided it simply couldn’t leave a family at the cemetery or in the church following a funeral. They were clients who had become like family and you just can’t desert your family during their darkest times.

That’s when Dru Strickland became director of aftercare, walking families through the myriad items that need attention following the death of a loved one. From retirement benefits to life insurance policies, Strickland can sort through the sometimes-intimidating paperwork and administrative details to help family members understand their next steps.

She realizes that if people haven’t experienced the death of a close family member, spouse or parent, they really aren’t sure what comes after the funeral. Plus, death isn’t something most people want to talk about, so it’s unlikely parents have talked to their grown children about their personal affairs.

There are questions about life insurance, pensions and retirement benefits plus bank accounts to close and debts to settle. Sometimes the first step is locating the all the necessary paperwork.

“I help them sort all that out and make it make sense,” Strickland said.

Stuhr Funeral Home provides complimentary aftercare services that are tailored to the family’s specific needs. They can include everything from ordering more copies of the death certificate and applying for social security to veterans’ benefits and grief support resources.

Strickland is sensitive to family members’ emotional state and realizes they are likely suffering from what she calls “grief brain” so it doesn’t bother her to repeat the same information a week later. Having lost her own husband, Strickland is emphatic and eager to help during this tough time.

“That’s where I can take them by the hand and lead them into my office and we go through the stuff they are baffled about,” she said.

Having been doing this work for 20 years, Strickland is an incredibly knowledgeable resource. “I’ve been doing this so long, I can look at the obit and figure out who to contact,” she said.

Recently Strickland was assisting a client and the friend he’d brought along mentioned in passing a life insurance policy he no longer could access. With a couple quick questions, Strickland knew immediately that policy had been sold to another company. She offered to help him track it down and update the beneficiary – and he wasn’t even a current Stuhr’s client.

That level of customer service drives a number of referrals and helps set Stuhr Funeral Home apart from other businesses.

“We’re truly full service,” Strickland said. “We’re here as long you need us.”

Often people call specifically asking for Strickland, referred by a friend or family member she’s helped in the past. It keeps her busy – and fulfilled. “It all boils down to the fact I love helping people and I love my job.”

By: H. A. Fisher

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