Someone asked me recently why I wanted to keep working in my profession after 42 years. Many said to me, ‘You deserve to retire, relax, and enjoy life.’
I have pondered these comments as I have heard them over and over. In the last two years, I tried to slow down after I sold my funeral, cremation, and cemetery business in 2019 to Park Lawn Corporation. After a few vacation trips, time with family and friends, as much as I enjoyed this time, I eventually found myself becoming restless and bored. I sought advice from my professional friend, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, speaker, author, and educator (Center For Loss) whose words of wisdom are always “spot on”. He told me I needed some time off to rest, to reflect and to mourn, to “just be” for a minimum of 6 months and a year would be ideal. Dr. Alan explained that selling and leaving a 3rd generation family business like ours would not come without some regrets, a sense of loss, sadness, and a yearning to remain involved. He was so right! I did go through so many of these different emotions over the last two years. The leadership at Park Lawn asked me to remain “of counsel” when needed. Anytime I want, I am welcome to put on my suit, come in and be a funeral director at Baue’s. I call it my “funeral fix”. I see my friends, give hugs and help on the visitation and funeral This was my passion and what I Ioved most when I began my career in 1979, and I find that it is what I miss the most about my former role. As a caregiver, I have found this part of me very hard to turn off. In fact, when my husband and I travel, I find myself opening doors for seniors and helping the elderly. 🙂
Some of you may wonder, or not understand why I sold our family business. Frankly, I had no successors. My son came to me about 5 years ago and shared that he wanted to explore other options. My daughter was immersed in her career as an event planner in Las Vegas and no longer wanted to live in our hometown. So here I am in my early 60’s still working 60–70-hour workweeks. The business is successful and still growing each year and that is a good thing. However, for an owner, it was all-encompassing and it seemed that my phone and email were in constant use at all hours. I, like many of my friends in the business, began to question how long we wanted to continue this type of life.
Those who know me may remember that my dad died when I was 30. I had a good 32 year run as a business owner. I have no regrets as I believe that I did well growing my businesses. I was blessed with a very supportive community and a terrific staff of leaders that day in and day out, which made our company the very best in our Region! They say it’s always good to go out while you are on top right? I believe I did.
I also hired a business coach a few years ago who taught me a great deal about myself and helped me discover more about the keys to fulfillment. I began to realize that it was time for me to move on. I did not want to die in the business, nor did I want to grow old in it, continuing to manage it into my 70 or 80’s. I have seen this occur with many of my colleagues. This was not the right answer for me. I desired to retire younger and do something else that fulfilled me, where I could manage my own time, I could give care to others, and at the same time, be able to give something back to my profession in a way that has meaning and purpose. Also understand, that all I ever wanted for my children is for them to be fulfilled in their life’s work and that I was ok with whatever they wanted to do as long as they are happy, and a few grandchildren come along someday. My husband Monte and I now have four adorable grandchildren.
These last two years have been a good transition both personally and professionally. Park Lawn has been amazing in how they have ensured that Baue continues the legacy of service to the families in the St. Charles County community and has made sure that our staff is well cared for. Many of our former managers are now in key leadership roles with Park Lawn Corporation.
As you are reading this blog, you realize that I have founded a small company in 2021 called “Your Funeral Coach”. The story of what it is and why it began, is on the website yourfuneralcoach.com. You will also see that my current focus is to educate and help coach our profession to become better. With my team of collaborative partners, we help coach and guide others to grow and find their passions and fulfillment in their life’s work.
In 2020 I was honored to be asked to serve on the Funeral Service Foundation Board of Trustees. In August of 2021, we’re finally able to meet in person at the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) Leadership Summit. What a wonderful group of people. The Trustees come from firms of all sizes both public and private and we have companies that also serve our profession on the board and committees. Our focus is to support the mission of The Foundation. (Funeral Service Foundation) We raise funds, we give out charitable grants, and support scholarships for educating funeral service professionals, and much more I have discovered. During COVID we supported funeral homes around the country with PPE and other critical needs, This last year we donated over $500,000 to funeral homes affected by Hurricane Irma. I was grateful to see the support for the Funeral Service Foundation at NFDA in Nashville at our annual international convention this last week as well. I know that now I am in the right place. A place of fulfillment in my life’s work, where my desire to help others will continue to flourish. At the same time, I have the flexibility to be able to serve as a funeral director, a volunteer, and be able to help others as a business coach. I still have plenty of time to travel, as well as spend time with my family, friends, and of course our four adorable grandchildren.
As a young professional, I had some wonderful mentors whose words of advice have stayed with me today. ‘You can do this Lisa,’ they said. ‘You can run and grow a funeral service company, and you can be a woman funeral professional; you can be a woman business owner.’ I am grateful for their encouragement and guidance in the early years after my dad died. Now my desire to pay it forward has allowed me to launch a family charitable fund and start a new coaching and mentoring business, one where my Collaborative Partners and I support others in the funeral service in their dreams to succeed and find fulfillment in life.
Please let me know how I may best support you.
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My best always,