So much of a funeral director’s work happens behind the scenes, tending to tasks that most families won’t ever know about. But these small details make all the difference in providing high quality service. Larry Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Funeral Home in Huntsville, knows that this kind of attentiveness brings necessary comfort during a difficult time; and this commitment is exemplified in how the family creates a sense of home in their facility to ensure guests feel welcome, comfortable and at ease from the moment they arrive.
That starts when they drive on to the property at 15 High Street. Many may not realize that just behind the funeral home, the Mitchells have on-site, private parking. Their front entryway welcomes all and is fully accessible. “It was a priority to welcome guests with mobility needs at the front door,” Larry explains. “Our wheelchair entrance used to be at the back, but it was very important to us that everyone, no matter your accessibly needs, enters through the same door. So, we were pleased to make that change to the building. When you come in through our front door, everything you need is on the main level.” The entryway just received a fresh coat of paint, a new railing and furniture, creating a bright and welcoming first impression.
The building’s design has evolved over the years in a very conscientious and deliberate way. “In my mind, our building is set up in the same way that a funeral is supposed to function,” says Larry. “Each space represents a transition. When you first come in for a visitation, that room transforms into your living room. You’re gathering here, meeting and visiting.” It’s where people share quiet conversation and say final goodbyes. “Then it’s time for the service to begin. Everybody makes the transition from the visitation room that was your ‘living room’ into the sanctuary that is our chapel.” Having this separate, designated chapel space is getting to be less common in the profession. The chapel has stained glass windows and at the front there are large windows, outside of which is a small garden Larry’s daughter landscaped this past summer. The space can be used for a formal ceremony or simply for quiet, private reflection.
“When you’re finished in the chapel, then there’s that last shift in mood when guests go across the hall and the reception area is full of conversation, even laughter,” Larry says. There, a warm fireplace glows, arm chairs provide comfortable respite and the kitchen is available for guests to bond over tea, coffee and food.
Time and again, Larry sees how creating this feeling of home and spaces that allow people to experience a breadth of emotions, supports opportunities for reflection and goodbyes, prayer and meditation and even joy and laughter.
To us, when people come through the doors of our funeral home, it’s about much more than a simple business transaction. Our goal is to establish the trust of our clients and create a warm environment that feels like a real home.
Larry Mitchell, Funeral Director
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