Hi! My name is Heather Darlene Henry James Welborn. Some people call me Heather, some people call me Henry, I’ll respond to either. I’m a Funeral Director currently living in Boise, Idaho. You’ll find that I’m a little bit different than most Funeral Directors you’ve met.
I currently work full-time in a funeral home meeting with families and doing funeral director things all day / every day. Living in a pandemic makes that last sentence an understatement. I am very proud of the funeral home I work for (Cloverdale Funeral Home) because I finally feel that I’m at a place where absolutely every employee I work with is stellar, there isn’t one loose screw in the boat. We all work together as a very cohesive team in serving our families and the passion in our jobs is evident in the service we provide. Each and every person here, from maintenance to administrative, from backstage prep room to front stage funeral arranging gives every family their all. Management allows for creativity and expression when it is needed and pulls in our reins when we’re taking on more than we can handle.
Funeral directing isn’t my only passion though, I’m also a deathcare researcher and educator. For the past two years I taught at Boise State University and created a death education course that looks at death and dying from a communication perspective. My educational background is degrees in Mortuary Science, Psychology, Thanatology and most recently Masters degrees in College Teaching and Communication. My goal with my education was always to create better pathways to teach FDs how to be better communicators. We all know what NOT to say, but knowing what TO say and HOW TO say it is a skill that can be taught and learned. My biggest pet peeve is guidance that says “be empathetic” or “show compassion” but no one talks about what that looks like. Drives me mad!
My graduate research has centered around: the allowance of self-labeling as a healing tool, the rhetoric of death education, how funeral homes can work better with communities through communication management, and coping mechanisms we (FDs) utilize in the funeral industry. (Some really interesting findings on humor!) Currently, my research has been delving deep into comforting and supportive measures, both verbal and non-verbal, that FDs can use when working with families during the pandemic as well as anything and everything about Uncertainty Management Theory. I firmly believe that this theory is of the utmost importance in breaking that communication/trust barrier with our families and is the single greatest tool we have.
Outside of all this, I facilitate our local grief therapy groups (every Saturday and Wednesday!). I’m also super passionate about the volunteer work I do as an on-call crisis specialist. The program is called Trauma Intervention Program. We respond along with first responders to any scene where there are survivors, victims, witnesses, and bystanders to provide psychological and emotional first aid. Please look into your own city/area to see if they have one near you, it is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.
I was asked by the company I work for to create a blog as an educational outlet for the “younger crowd.” I’m pretty sure they were just trying to rein in my exhausting need for community involvement. I’m also not sure what they mean by “younger crowd” (they’re placement of quotes, not mine) or if they are aware that I’m not “younger” anymore. HA! All I know is that they felt that Facebook was too old and they didn’t know what TikTok was. So here we are. Most of all, I really just want to create a dialogue and allow people to see the reality about funeral service, how to communicate with each other better, and maybe educate along the way.
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