Thank you Norway
From May 24 – 28, 2017, I had the privilege of being invited to the Annual General Assembly of the Funeral Federation of Norway held in Lillehammer, Norway by our EFFS Board member Gunnar Hammersmark. The event was scheduled in combination with the Norwegian annual funeral exhibition and was enhanced by a programme filled with presentations, speakers and a panel discussion. Over 330 participants attended the event – a mixture of association members, suppliers and exhibitors. An absolute highlight of the event was a speech held on Saturday morning by Per Anders Nordengen, a former pastor and now renowned author and speaker. Although I don’t speak a single word of Norwegian, I listened and enjoyed a fascinating, lively, humorous and sincere speech making it clear how privileged we all are to work in the funeral sector. Such a responsibility but such an honour. The underlying topic of the speech was “Standard for best practice in funeral services - outdated or updated?” and the speaker’s main message to the audience of funeral professionals was to practice this dignified profession to the absolute best of our ability (best practice). The panel discussion that followed left an impression with me of how passionate, ethical and professional the participants carry out their profession.
The entire group that had come together from different areas of the business sector was very welcoming and very professional. A healthy competition amongst suppliers was well respected. A highlight of the exhibition itself was the unveiling of Norway’s first Tesla hearse (priced at about €220,000). Five Norwegian funeral homes were the first to purchase the new vehicle.
The funeral sector in Norway handles about 40,000 deaths a year and Norwegian funeral culture is indeed very traditional but also very open to adapting to the times and therefore to the wishes of the deceased and their families with respect to the changes in funeral choices and rituals.
The final evening festivities were filled with comedy, music and of course speeches. Honorary memberships this year were granted to Berit Stangeland Hanssen (past President of the Funeral Federation of Norway) and to our very own Gunnar Hammersmark who was honoured for his outstanding contribution to the funeral sector for the past 48! years. Tom Sletsjøe said farewell as President of the Funeral Federation of Norway and will continue as a Board member. Jan Willy Løken delivered his commencement speech as the new President of the Funeral Federation of Norway and spoke about the goals of the association for the next two years. The EFFS gave a short speech thanking the Funeral Federation of Norway for the invitation and the wonderful welcome.
In conclusion, I can confirm that a number of national subjects are similar to those we have on a European level, foremost providing professional service at a high standard in the most dignified way possible; always listening to the bereaved. Their wishes should be our priority focus.
EFFS’ participation to the event was highly appreciated and I not only left with many new impressions of the Norwegian funeral business but also with many new friends.