We pride ourselves on providing funeral professionals with an inspiring mix of memorial products. But what inspires us are the stories of compassionate customers like Valerie Martell.
Valerie Martell knew at an early age that “little things” speak loudly. As a young girl attending the funeral of a dear aunt, she found herself considering how the woman’s dress might be straightened, her cosmetics improved and the casket changed. That same focus on small details serves her well today as Director of Operations for Martin Brothers Funeral Services in Vancouver, Canada.
“Going the extra mile, doing those extra things … that’s important to me as a person,” said Valerie, who is passionate about helping families uncover a loved one’s voice in the details. “In this profession, we could be average. We choose to be more than that,” she said. “We choose to be exceptional. And part of being exceptional is offering the best service to families, the best product to families.”
Learning what matters to each person helps Valerie put everything into place. “Families don’t always know what to ask for, so part of my job is just listening to them.” She believes that, wherever you are, you can find something unique that speaks to the people you’re trying to serve. One way Martin Brothers does this in a high cremation market is through a specialized service where they take people out to sea on a 72-foot yacht to scatter their loved one’s remains. “Whether you’ve lived here a lifetime or you’re a relative newcomer, you quickly develop an affinity with the ocean. It’s a big part of where we live,” said Valerie. Many find it a meaningful final resting place.
What also matters, according to Valerie, is providing the family with choices and something that truly represents their loved one. “We often think our job is about helping people let go. In reality, part of letting go is providing them with something to hold onto,” she said.
Valerie champions the healing power of a simple LifeStories® medallion and shares the poignant story of a twin who, after seeing and touching the “Brother” display medallion in the casket, was finally able to acknowledge his loss and look at his sibling for the first time. “It brought him a long way in his grief,” she said.
Batesville’s Living Memorial® program is another extra that Valerie embraces. “It offers the idea that, although their loved one has gone from this world and is not part of their lives anymore, there is still something somewhere commemorating their life,” she said. “Families are really touched by that.”
Whether making sure the family dog that was always so important is welcome at the service or helping out in the background during a reception at the family home, Valerie believes “just being there” is the most important part of her job. “I don’t care if they remember my name. I don’t care if they remember the color we had on the table for the reception or the flowers,” she said. “I want people to remember how they felt and that they knew everything was taken care of.”
In paying attention to all of the “little things,” Valerie and the Martin Brothers staff assure families remember their loved ones’ funerals as something special. “Maybe they don’t know exactly what we did, but they know everything fell into place and spoke to them,” she said.