Mourning Coffee with Tracy Lee

Recent Articles

Special Occasions

Today was an important day for my cousin’s grandson.  He hit a milestone in his young life.  At church, my cousin said that she was so very proud of her grandson for the efforts he has made to achieve this honor being bestowed upon him, and grateful that her uncle had driven three hours to witness it with her.  She continued with a slight hesitation, “But the day is bittersweet as I greatly miss my deceased father today.  I wish that he were here to bestow this honor upon my grandson and help him grow in strength and honor as he becomes a young man.”

Special occasions can present difficult situations for survivors.  We are excited and happy for the anticipated event, however, our joy may be somewhat over shadowed by the heartbreak we experience, present through the absence of those we love who have gone on before us. Grief Brief 58
Special Days

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and especially the yearly loss anniversary, are extremely stressful for the survivors of loss.  
The anticipation of these important dates may sometimes be worse than the day itself
If you have a close friend or relative, it may be a good idea to let them know that you might need extra understanding and support on these days. (Mourning Light, Tracy Lee, 2016)

The Grief Brief above points to the fact that special days may be difficult, however, one may add to it the fact that future events, especially those that would have traditionally involved the decedent, will likewise draw upon the survivor’s heartstrings. What then does a survivor do to overcome their heartache and join the celebrations accompanying milestone achievements?  Let us look at my cousin’s case. Continue Reading →

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Denying Denial

My mother’s health is failing.  She may be gone from us soon.  She is very sad and wants her children by her side at all times.  She recently suffered a disastrous 11-day hospital stay following what was supposed to be a day surgery.  From the hospital, she was released into a nursing home for two days. I was going grocery shopping early Saturday morning, August 5, 2017, as my cupboards were nearly bare from having spent most of the past 13 days at the hospital and nursing home with my mother.  As I neared the freeway exit, however, I felt compelled to remain on route, and rather than finding myself at the grocery store, I found myself walking into my mother’s room to check on her. I saw that her eyes were closed.  Softly, I called out to her in order that I not to wake her, should she be sleeping.  She stirred slightly, so I touched her hand with mine.  Faintly, she uttered, “I’m crying.”  I was so startled by her statement that I didn’t know exactly what to say to her.  In confusion, I asked, “Mom?”  With eyes still closed, she grabbed my hand so tightly.  She could barely speak.  Between sobs, she cried, “I’m dying.”  In dismay, I asked in disbelief, “What?”  “I want my children here with me.  I’m dying.” She sobbed. I immediately reached for my phone with my free hand.  Trying to calm my mother, I sent out a text to my siblings, “Hurry here.  Mother is very upset.  She wants us all here.  She is afraid she is dying.  She is crying.”  I noticed my mother was having some sort of involuntary repetitive twitching.  It seemed to be rapidly increasing in severity, so I immediately ran to get a nurse. As the nurse and I reentered my mother’s room, things were not going very well.  My mother had gone from bad to worse and needed immediate assistance.  The nurse ran out into the hallway and began shouting out names.  Apparently, the aids she called out for were not responding quickly enough because she ended her plea with, “anyone”, and ran back into my mother’s room. Continue Reading →

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Stone Service

Yesterday, my husband and I directed a funeral for a young man in an Historical Texas Cemetery.  We arrived for the committal service one hour before the scheduled start time.  Our service set up was accomplished quickly, so we began looking at the grave markers within the cemetery. Old Liberty Cemetery received Texas historical status in part by containing “Veterans, both men, and women, of six wars…The War of 1812, the Blackhawk War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, and World Wars I and II.”  (State Historical Marker, 1997)  In walking the cemetery, I found markers from later wars as well. Old Liberty Cemetery is a very old cemetery.  Unfortunately, ancient cemeteries sometimes suffer from low funding, and therefore, fall into a state of low maintenance.  As my husband and I walked the cemetery and photographed the historical Veteran markers, we noticed that many of them stood in need of maintenance and repair.  Stones dating so far back in history may no longer have family members who are aware of their relation to them, or family members who may not be physically able to maintain them. 

There are sometimes groups who will organize a service project for cemeteries.  Scout troops, churches, and historical organizations will often select a cemetery to scrub and level stones in need of maintenance.  It is not necessary, however, to belong to an organized group to render such a needed service to great American heroes.  My husband and I plan to return to Old Liberty Cemetery this weekend.  We will scrub and remove debris from the gravestones of our nation’s heroes who rest there. If you find yourself in a cemetery that has American Veteran’s gravestones in need of maintenance, you might consider rendering this service.  It is a good idea to notify the cemetery sexton of your intentions.  He or she will advise you of acceptable maintenance methods and available times for your service.  Depending on the size of the project, you might even consider organizing a work party for the event.  If you would like to join a group or organize one, I have found that the website, aptly named, “” is a wonderful resource. Rendering service is uniquely American.  No other nation compares to the American standard of offering humanitarian aid, assistance, and rendering service to those in need.  The American military is very often the means by which this aid, assistance, and service are delivered to other nations.  If you find it in your heart to give back to those who have served and protected our nation, and who may have likewise rendered service abroad, consider dedicating your weekend to veteran gravestone maintenance.  It will be a worthwhile use of your time. Continue Reading →

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Hidden Shame

Have you ever witnessed something so shameful that the moment you became aware of it, you were instantly ill?  So unbelievable that the shock wave of awareness incapacitated your ability to function and for a moment, you stood frozen, as you were, in time?  So startling that your brain had to struggle through a fog of confusion and disbelief to regain comprehension and use of your vocabulary?  I have had this experience.  I experienced it June 5, 2017, at 10:12 AM. My husband is a Retired United States Navy Veteran.  He served his country with honor for twenty years.  My children and I are very proud of his service, of his honor, of his loyalty.  His medals, ribbons, and special letters of commendation are proudly displayed on the walls in our home. As a United States Veteran, funeral home owners, and a funeral director, my husband and I are always very honored when we have the privilege of burying one of our nation’s veterans.  We extend special care to these dependent families as we understand, appreciate, and relate to the sacrifices they have endured throughout their service member’s careers.   We too have endured the extended separations, poverty, displacements, discriminations, stresses, wars, illnesses, etc. that service members and dependents suffer throughout their tours of duty, and we have always been honored to bear them proudly. Recently, I became aware of a shameful act perpetrated against certain veterans that is so disconcerting that it has caused me great distress.  I immediately notified the VA in Washington DC, and together we began working to reverse this dishonor.  Both the VA and I thought that this issue was an isolated event, however, this past weekend has proven that this is not so.   At this time, I do not know how far reaching this shameful issue impacts our nation.  I do know, however, that something must be done to rectify it, something must be done to discover how far reaching it is, and something must be done to stop it ever happening again. Continue Reading →

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Best Ways to Cut Funeral Costs

I have been an Insurance Agent for quite some time. When one becomes a Funeral Director, Insurance is one of those collateral duties that compliments your skill set and assists clients as they come to the funeral home looking for assistance for their future end of life (death) needs. Insurance offers a vast selection of products based on the needs of the client. The issues related to product selection are that although clients can vocalize their concerns, they often do not understand which product provides the most efficient solution for them. In most cases, their purchase decision will be based on one of two facts. Continue Reading →

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Isolation Increases Risk of Suicide

Last night I was surfing social media when I came upon a friend’s post stating that upon reflection, he was taking a break from social media.  He stated that since the passing of his wife six months ago, his opinion posting had become offensive to his son.  He was confused and hurt by his son’s chastisements, and to discontinue causing his son discomfort or embarrassment, he had concluded that his withdrawal was in order.  His post was filled with sadness, despair, pain, and anguish.  Regret was apparent that he had not foreseen that his posts might wedge a wound in his father/son relationship, and he was solemnly announcing his intention to bend to his son’s harsh rebuke. To show my support of this man’s right to post his opinion on a social media platform based solely on opinion posting, I went through his history and began liking every one of his opinion posts with which I could agree.  It was not enough though.  As I lay in my bed last night, I found that sleep was elusive.  I tossed and turned all night worrying about this friend.  
Grief Brief 7
Social Withdrawal
People who have recently lost a loved one may tend to withdraw from family or friends in intimate and social situations. This tendency is generally brief and usually corrects itself without intervention. If one continues to withdraw from social interactions over an extended length of time, one might find it comforting to consult with a counselor. Continue Reading →

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Some of my fondest memories as I was growing up are of those spent with my family.  Moments in time with parents, grandparents, and great grandparents that were once common are now priceless recollections that I hold dear to my heart.  Yesterday as I sat in church, I sent out a text to my brother asking him to cook a Cajun dinner for my eldest daughter and her family who are visiting us from the northern states for a week.  Fortunately, he graciously accepted, so last night, we traveled from Texas to Louisiana for dinner at his house. As I arrived at his home, the aroma of his cooking brought precious memories back to my mind of my childhood.  Arriving at my grandmother’s house in south Louisiana was always a culinary treat.  We entered his house through the back door directly into his kitchen and immediately my children and grandchildren began hugging their aunts, uncle, and great grandparents.  The moment was so touching, I could barely hold my emotions. We enjoyed our dinner.  The gumbo was excellent.  Afterward, we walked next door to my father’s home.  We gathered in his music room, played our instruments, and sang fun songs.  When my father was a schoolboy, he played the bass clarinet.  It just so happens that my granddaughter plays the same instrument.  As my father played the bass guitar, he asked my granddaughter if she would like to play it.  She accepted the invitation and within 60 seconds was playing the foundation base of each song.  Her younger sister strummed along on the autoharp and we all learned the complicated vocal control needed for yodeling. We had a wonderful family evening.  An evening I hope they will recall with fondness when they are grandparents and have the opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren.  I see my grandchildren rarely, but that does not mean I do not love them.  It means that they live far away and that my heart yearns for them daily.  I was fortunate to grow up in the company of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and multitudes of cousins.  My grandchildren do not enjoy that privilege. When I was a child, summer vacation meant fun and play to me.   Now that I am a grandmother, it means my heartbreak will have a moment’s relief when my grandchildren pull up in my driveway and stay with me for a week.  I hope last night will be one of those memories that will bring them strength and comfort once I am gone.  I hope they will know that I loved them, that I lived all year for the moment I would be able to see them, and that I would give my last breath on earth in their defense. Continue Reading →

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This past week was a particularly sad one for our entire nation.  As the world held its breath, my husband and I awaited news of the seven missing sailors on the USS Fitzgerald broadsided by the 29,000-ton container ship ACX Crystal off Japan’s Izu Peninsula.  During the days that followed, we monitored social media awaiting any news from families who had loved one stationed aboard the USS Fitzgerald.  As communication slowly trickled out to families anxiously awaiting word, our relief for them was great.  One by one, the list of possible victims narrowed.  One by one, families without word grew more and more anxious.  My husband is a retired US Navy Sailor.  I recall a time when I was one of those family members waiting anxiously for news of my beloved sailor. The seven bereft families from the USS Fitzgerald live in an age where the news is everywhere.  They were able to see the details of this event unfold before their very eyes half a world away.  Does that make it any easier for them?  I think not.  Unfortunately, for these families, the deaths of their loved ones fall into two different categories.  These family members will suffer the effects of sudden death as well as those of high profile deaths with heavy media coverage and speculation. Greif Brief 123
Sudden death can bring feelings of regret to the survivor. Regret for things said or unsaid, actions, inactions, and lost dreams.
Counseling can serve to redirect these regrets allowing a better grief recovery experience and closure. (Mourning Light II, Tracy Renee Lee 2016)

When the crewmembers of the USS Fitzgerald left base Friday for “routine operations” they probably experienced a “routine farewell” from family members.  After all, when things are routine, they are usually mundane and do not call for any sort of special recognition.  It was not as though they were leaving for a six-month deployment; right?  If you have not ever realized it before, being in the military is not routine.  The men and women of the US Military risk their lives each and every day at work.  Their routine jobs put them in harm’s way almost every moment, even when they are on US soil.  Their jobs are not like civilian jobs.  Their jobs are to die so that civilians might live.  Yes in truth, a service member’s job is to do whatever it takes to protect your life, up to and including sacrificing his or her own.  Moreover, they are honored to do it. Continue Reading →

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Cherished Memories

As I was preparing to leave my office at the close of a busy day, my phone rang.  A gentleman asked if he could speak with me about the recent loss of his dear wife.  His anguish was heartbreaking and as he recounted his experience and emotions to me, I was impressed in so many ways by the depth of his love for her, his devotion to her, his ability to evaluate his spiritual reliance on her, his awareness of his emotional wound without her beside him, his ability and willingness to express his loneliness and fear of life without her by his side, and his desire to openly seek assistance.  There were so many impressive attributes expressed during our conversation, that when it was over, although I remained worried and deeply saddened for him, I was comforted that he was on the right track for recovery. A loved one’s death is overwhelming.  Prior to your loved one’s death, you understand that you love that person deeply; however, you may not realize that without that person, your life is barely manageable; barely maintainable.  Upon the other’s death, your life is suddenly in danger as well.  Your life is filled with turmoil.  Disorganization rules every aspect of your functionality.  Indeed, at times, your will to live may be called into question.  These are very frightening facts.  Moreover, upon the death of a significant loved one, someone with whom you have been married for decades upon decades, with whom you have created generations of descendants, with whom you have established reputation, successful business, wealth, and happiness; these facts do indeed become burdens of distress, that if not properly managed will end your life.  The gentleman caller on the other end of my phone understood the gravity of these issues and wanted to understand and apply the remedies for them. Unfortunately, the only quick fix for grief is to be a shallow person – a person who does not love others.  To be this type of person is undesirable.  To live this type of life is empty and lonely.  For my caller to swiftly recover from his wife’s death, he would have to forget about the many wonderful years they spent together, the trials they conquered together, the foes they battled together, the fears they triumphed over, their accomplishments, their setbacks, their hardships, their disagreements, their makeup’s, their holidays, their illnesses, their recoveries, the births of their children and grandchildren, the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren, and the list continues.  These are things this man would not give up if his life depended on it, and at this point, it does. These experiences that have built his life with his wife, strengthened his resolve to be her eternal companion and solidified his love for her are exactly what have caused his grief upon her death.  They are also the exact same experiences that will save his life and cause his recovery as he begins to reorganize his existence without her by his side.  Day by day, he will understand more and more that these sweet memories are what get him through his days and allow him to keep breathing.  Although his heart is momentarily rent in two, these memories that he sees as reminders too painful to recall, are slowly turning into bandages that will spiritually bridge his existence to that of his wife’s beyond the veil.  As he opens his heart to celestial infusion, he will realize that his wife’s love remains with him, that she has not and will not forget him, and that she awaits his arrival with the greatest anticipation just beyond his view, but never beyond his reach, in that glorious place called paradise.  And that one day, they will reunite where families are forever, where love is eternal, and where the trials and sorrows of this life will become cherished memories. My name is Tracy Renee Lee. Continue Reading →

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