Monday, June 11, 2012

Death By Marketing

Marketing is an important part of any business. And part of marketing is looking for potential customers and letting them know about your business. Now we've all heard about lawyers who act as ambulance-chasers, but did you know there are also "hearse-chasers"?

As you know from my earlier blog, my MIL died two weeks ago. Since then we've been receiving a steady stream of condolence cards. Mixed in, however, have been two examples of very poor marketing. The day after the obituary appeared on-line (and the day before the funeral), there was an envelope in the mail with a flyer from a realtor who could not only help us sell a home, but had all of the connections for disposing of unwanted furniture, household goods, and any other stuff. Really? He actually thought that was uppermost on our minds, before we'd even had the funeral?

The following week brought a personalized letter from a monument company. The writer at least had the courtesy to recognize that we might not be ready to think about that step, but hoped that when we were, we would think of her and all of the help and support she could provide. If this person had actually done a little research, she would have realized, based on the names of the funeral home and the cemetery, that we are Jewish. By Jewish tradition, the headstone is not put up (or "unveiled") until at least twelve months after the burial. So we won't be ready to take that step until next year.

And then there was the letter from the company that supplied the private duty aide at the nursing home. The letter addressed to xxxxxx client (technically my MIL, although I was the contact person), opened by saying they liked to elicit feedback and recommendations for improvement to their services, so they send a satisfaction survey at the completion of service. And the last line in the letter is "Our thanks and best wishes for your health and happiness in the future." Um, did you happen to notice that the client is dead? (Of course this is the same company that sent me a letter inviting me to give them my e-mail address so I could receive their e-letter. They sent a form to fill out with an unstamped envelope to mail it back -- no sign of their e-mail address.)

So, by all means look for innovative ways to find prospective customers and get your message to them. But don't be as clueless as these companies!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It is What It Is; We Do What We Do

Some of you may have noticed I'm a little more distracted than usual. As you know, I' m fond of quoting John Lennon's "life is what happens while you're making other plans". Well, we've had a lot of life happening recently.

In February, my mother-in-law celebrated her 90th birthday with a big party with lots of family and friends. At the time she said she couldn't believe she'd made it to her 90th birthday and that it was the happiest day of her life. Unfortunately things started going downhill faster after that. She had a brief hospital stay in early March and then re-entered the hospital on March 18. Testing showed she had suffered several small strokes. After 1-1/2 weeks in Englewood Hospital, she was at Kessler Rehab in Saddle Brook for about one week, followed by a week at the Columbia Presbyterian stroke unit. She has now been at the Jewish Home in Rockleigh for over six weeks. For the past two weeks, she has been officially on hospice care. Intellectually I know and understand each step we are going through. Emotionally, however, each step comes as a shock and emotional landmine.

What has been the bright spot in all of this? The care and support from my friends. I tend to be a fairly private person -- a few close friends know what's going on in my life, but I don't usually tell everyone. Writing this blog -- revealing all -- is major for me. What I've discovered is that I'm not alone on this journey. Several of my friends are going through similar experiences so we are able to share information and hugs. One friend was very grateful that I told him about my mother-in-law as he was then able to tell me about his father's ongoing health issues.

So we continue to take things one day at a time. I'm hesitant to make too many plans. I actually RSVP'd to an event with the comment "I'll be there as long as life (or death) doesn't get in the way." (Our hospice social worker has assured me that without humor we'd go crazy.) And we continue to say "it is what it is and we do what we do".

ADDENDA: On Sunday, May 27, at around 2:15 am, Shirley S. Passow left us. We are both sad and relieved. She is now at peace and back with her beloved husband Harry. Farewell to a "woman of valor".

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Three Words for 2012

It's 2012 -- an interesting year in many ways. It's a Leap Year, so we get one more day of February. For the Asian Lunar Year, this is the Year of the Dragon. And it's my second year of non-resolutions but rather choosing three words to guide me.

I suppose I should start by reviewing how last year's words worked. Last year I chose Caring, Integrity, and Joy. Although I didn't always think about the words, in looking back I can say I did reasonably well. I did cut back on my snarkiness, I did take time for happy things. I wasn't so good about getting myself back in shape -- talked about it a lot but wasn't as active as I'd hoped.

This year's words are related to last year's: Focus, Patience, and Gratitude. They actually build on last year by getting more specific as to what needs to be done.

Focus: this has two parts. First, finish things without getting distracted (oh, look, a new shiny thing!) But more importantly, figure out what is really important and only do those things. This leads back to an earlier blog on the importance of not only knowing when to say no but also when to say yes. Of course we can do everything, but should we? So I will be cutting back this year on some of my activities and really focusing on what I want and need to do.

Patience: this is an outgrowth of last year's Caring. Recognize that people are who they are and accept them. Not everyone does things the same way, that's okay.Don't waste energy on things that aren't important. I'm getting better at this. It goes along with "less snark" and "don't rush to judgment". Sometimes you just have to accept things the way they are.

Gratitude: I have learned a lot from my Rabbi this past year. Recently, she finished a CD called "Gratitude". One of the topics covered is complaining. She points out the greatest antidote to complaining is gratitude. And, most importantly, studies have shown that gratitude leads directly to happiness. She added that happy people aren't always grateful, but grateful people are always happy. (And I will be writing more on this topic.)