What’s included in an Arrangers Academy Training Event?

Day One: Introduction to the Acute Loss Period

Karl Jennings will give attendees a comprehensive overview of the Acute Loss Period, and practical instruction/application of the Acute Loss Model for arrangers and other funeral professionals.

  • Five Essential Questions
  • Selling The Invisible
  • The Experience Economy
  • The Unguarded Moment
  • The Drama in Seven Phases
  • The Solution
  • The Why
  • The Modern Customer
  • The New Customer Portal
  • Overview of Seven Phases of the Acute Loss Period
  • Using the Bi-Fold to Educate your Customer

Day Two: Finding Your Voice 

Day 2 is designed to help each attendee find his/her voice. Each attendee will be shown how to apply the concepts learned in ALC 100 in a way that is authentic and fits their personality and professional experience. 

  • Personal Loss Narrative Survey
  • Three Orientations 
  • Doers vs. Feelers
  • One Universal Need
  • Changing their Mental Moorings
  • In Depth: Seven Phases of Acute Loss Period
  • Practicums

Radio Interview Link

This is a link to an interview I did with Lucy Ann Lance at 1290 AM (look for the interview dated April 19, 2012).  The interview was partly about an upcoming Chik-fil-a Leadercast event Borek Jennings was helping to sponsor, but I was also asked to share my opinion about the challenges facing the funeral industry and how our funeral homes have responded to these challenges.

I’d love to hear your responses to this interview.

Karl Jennings


It was good to see you in New Jersey!!

If you attended the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association’s annual convention and expo, hopefully you had a chance to attend Karl’s session and meet us at our booth on the convention floor.  Karl’s topic was: “It Is Time to Redefine Our Basic Services.” Here’s a screen shot from the convention page:

We would love to talk to you more specifically about how you can redefine the basic services you offer your customers.  To contact us e-mail us or call.


Phone: 810-844-1444

Common Words

Some common words have a very clear meaning especially when used emphatically.  For instance if I said “Stop”, you would have no doubt that I desired you to cease the activity in which you were currently engaging.  There are other common words that usually have simple meanings, but can also have shared or complex meanings.  When used in casual language, words like “simple,” “direct” and “immediate” are usually clear and simply understood.  However, when used as a part of the funeral industry’s vocabulary, those common words take on very different meanings.

When life is stressful, we often attempt to find “the right words” to express our feelings, help us communicate with others and, at the same time, diffuse the tension we are feeling.  This struggle to communicate effectively is readily apparent when people try to describe what they felt when they first heard the news that someone they love has died.  Words like “shock,” “disbelief,” “anguish” and “numbness” are used to describe our initial response, but even those words seem to fall short of communicating how we feel.  A close friend of mine said, as he stood at the bedside of his deceased father, “Karl, this is a place without words.”  The problem is that where there are no words, there is no common understanding.  Where there is no common understanding and people feel vulnerable, many will grasp for words and assign their own meanings trying to bring external order to their inner chaos.

If we can help guide our families to a better understanding of the words used at the time of acute loss, we can not only help those families navigate loss more effectively, but we can also begin to re-establish our professional relevance and the financial viability of our industry.  At the Arrangers Academy we differentiate between the words “loss” and “grief” in order to help our families construct a common language for what they are experiencing.  We understand that during the Acute Loss Period (the first 10-14 days after hearing about the loss of a loved one) feelings of loss are new and sharp.  Our families need words to help them connect to what they are feeling.  They also need words that will help them connect and engage with friends and family members around them so they can build an adequate support system.  They need words that are compelling and authentic.  Words that not only describe what they are feeling but that help them surface their feelings.  They need starter words and ideas that provide a framework and context to their loss experience.  They need words to guide their common journey and to nurture their individual experience with the loss.  When they find these words they are empowered to use them as a platform to organize their inner thoughts and integrate those thoughts with their relationships.

Common words, if chosen wisely, can be used to build a healthy framework for both the inner journey and engage the external relationships that can help ease the transition from loss to grief.   By guiding this process during the days immediately following the loss of a loved one, we can nurture our families’ emotional, relational and spiritual needs and redefine our place in the future of funeral services.

Karl Jennings

ICCFA Wrap-up

A HUGE “Thank You” to all those who attended our breakout session in Las Vegas at the ICCFA National Convention!  Below is the summary posted for the breakout session.

“In working with approximately 50 funeral homes across the United States, Karl Jennings has found that the number one frustration among everyone from the receptionist to the arranger to the funeral director is the lack of a coherent narrative that explains the value proposition of the funeral. What exactly is the service we provide, and how do we communicate the value of that service to families?

According to Jennings, funeral service has come to be treated as a retail transaction, which has not served the profession well. It is time, he says, to place the focus back on helping families deal with their grief.

In this session, Jennings will examine the acute loss period—the three to 10 days following the death—and the seven phases families must complete during that crucial time to be able to begin the necessary trajectory toward healing. Next, he’ll discuss the role of the funeral and the funeral director in making that happen.

Karl Jennings is owner and chief executive officer of Borek Jennings Funeral Homes, with four locations in Hamburg, Howell, Manchester and Brooklyn, Michigan. He is CEO of the Healing Farewell Center of America and is author of “When We Must Say Farewell,” helping families prepare for and deal with the death of a loved one.”