Courageous Leadership During Dark Times: Interview with Funeral Leaders Dan and Peter Moloney

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By Leader Managing Editor Courtney Gould Miller & Editor Kara Apel

F. Daniel Moloney Jr. and Peter G. Moloney, co-owners of Moloney Family Funeral Homes, worked through the darkest days of the pandemic in the epicenter of it all — New York City.

Last year created many life-altering experiences for the Moloneys, along with all of their staff at their seven funeral homes located across Long Island.

Peter and Dan recently spoke with Managing Editor Courtney Gould Miller about what they learned during the pandemic, especially in the early days.

“We didn’t really know what we were getting into — back in the end of March, the beginning of April. We thought that it would be manageable; we knew it would be a situation, but we just didn’t know how bad it was going to be. And then, it became overwhelming. We faced days where we really didn’t know what we were going to do, in terms of when it was going to end. That went on for a couple of months,” Dan Moloney said. “It was a very challenging time for us — and for our staff in particular. We were figuring this whole thing out on the fly, and we did really well. We feel our staff really came through in a great way.”

Through it all, both Dan and Peter agree that creating effective modes of communication with their staff was the key. They used Zoom to consistently meet with all of their team members to ensure everyone had the latest updates and information.

“We were able to put our best foot forward during the changing times that were happening right before our eyes. We were very fortunate as a family and as a funeral home to be there for the community,” Peter Moloney said.

The Moloneys also used time during these Zoom meetings to encourage their staff members and offer their support.

“We talked directly to them about what the situation was, what needed to be done, and how we were going to do it. We had prayers sometimes. We would all join together in prayer. It was a very emotional time, but our staff really were the rock in all of us getting through this,” Dan Moloney said.

The Moloneys agree that using technology to get matters handled with families in advance was hugely helpful and successful during the pandemic.

“We were able to set up things so that when families had to go into the funeral home, we would minimize their time there. Families didn’t want to come into the funeral home. It would be 10 to 15 minutes, come in, agree with what had been selected, drop off clothing, and then they could go home, and then they would come back for their service,” Peter Moloney said. “We were very cognizant of the fear of families —that people didn’t want to come to the funeral home. They were very receptive.”

The Moloneys also made a point of reaching out to the public to communicate what their services were. They consistently reached out to local news outlets to share updates with the public, including ways to allow families to say goodbye.

“There were people in the hospitals who were alone. Family members were not able to be in the hospital, so they were able to come to the funeral home and have that time that they needed. It was a very difficult time. Much different than 9/11; after 9/11, everybody came together. In this instance, nobody could come together. It was a very lonely, sad time for many, many families, and we could feel it,” Peter Moloney said.

Both Peter and Dan noted that multiple families shared feedback with them about how grateful they were to have the opportunity to say goodbye, despite the limitations.

To offer families this opportunity, the Moloneys had to innovate and think creatively. One of the ways they pivoted was to offer drive-thru funerals so families could still safely see their loved ones. They also set up tents outside so ceremonies could still be held.

The Moloneys have been successful because of their creativity — and their willingness to take risks. Watch the video above to learn more about how they have managed to stay ahead of the curve.


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