Mourning Coffee with Tracy Lee

Recent Articles

Mikey Joe 6 – Abandonment

As I stood in line at the bank, Friday, the bank manager approached me and whispered kind words into my ear.  She thanked me for how I close the services for my client families.  She had recently attended the funeral of my cousin’s husband and wanted to express her appreciation for my closing statements.  I appreciate her encouragements.  

At the close of every funeral, I always come forward and thank family and friends, on behalf of the survivors, for their attendance and support during what is definitely the most difficult ritual accompanying death; the lowering of the loved one into the earth and sealing their grave with soil.  At that moment, fear, panic, and pain rush into the hearts of the survivors. I was there six months ago.  My son-in-law carried my grandson’s tiny white casket out of our chapel and placed him in his grave.  My daughter and her surviving two children followed, and we gathered around Mikey Joe’s resting place for the dedication and closing of his grave.  My husband, son-in-law, and three-year-old grandson began the arduous task of returning the soil of the earth into the oblong grave where my deceased grandson would now rest. I think my heart stopped beating at that moment.  I watched in horror as my little grandson grabbed a small fist full of dirt to throw into his tiny brother’s grave.  I could not see or hear anything else around me.  I was completely focused on my two tiny grandsons sharing their last moment on earth; one lying in a small grave and the other filling it with dirt.  Suddenly, my three-year-old grandson realized his hands were dirty and briskly wiped them up and down on the chest of his freshly starched shirt.  Those in attendance gasped and then broke into laughter.  With tears of heartache streaming down my face, I too broke into uncontrollable laughter.  He repeated his assigned task of filling his tiny brother’s grave until the task was completed, each time wiping his hands on the front breast of his white shirt.  The bright red dirt of East Texas, now permanently stains my grandson’s beautiful white church shirt.  What a wonderful treasure my daughter has of her two tiny sons:  a stained dress shirt, evidentiary of their brotherly love and care for each other. As the committal came to a close, I, like always, stepped forward.  Choking with sobs of sorrow, I thanked our family and friends for their support, participation, and attendance.  Then, one by one, they each left our funeral home.  Since that day, no one who attended his funeral has ever mentioned my grandson again.  My husband, daughter, and I speak of him continually, but no one in our family, nor do our friends ever speak of him. Continue Reading →

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Mikey Joe 5 – Angels of Comfort

What a blessing it is to be able to read.  It was not so long ago that reading was uncommon among the masses.  Even today, we see many people who remain illiterate due to dyslexia or some other underlying cause.  Reading is better than movies.  It is better than plays.  Reading is a gift to our souls because it allows us to engage our minds, imagination, reasoning, and intuition.  It allows us to accept the words to our brains at the speed at which we can understand and interpret their meaning.  Once we understand their meaning, we are at liberty to accept or reject them as truth or error.  I am thankful for the blessing of reading in my life.  I hope you are too. I read an article this morning. While I found some of the article acceptable, most of it seemed mystically based.  It did, however, evoke deep thought, encourage contemplation, critical thinking, and evaluation within my mind and soul.  At the end of the article, I had considered new theories, reasoned whether they were soundly based, and either accepted or rejected them.  It was an educational morning for me. The interesting part of the article for me was the section entitled “Angels of Comfort.”  In this section, the author addresses two different types of angels.  She writes of angels who take upon themselves a physical form.  She states, “A true angel encounter is when angels assume physical bodies.  They have a different essence about them. They come out of nowhere, deliver the message or assistance and leave without a trace.”  (Kermie Wohlenhaus, Ph.D., Angels of Grief, Comfort, and Hope)

Ms. Wohlenhaus also writes of angels who remain in a spiritual form and communicate soul to soul.  It is this second concept of spirits that had merit to me. Continue Reading →

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The Value of Rubies

As designated by our government’s Standard of Living Index, she was not a woman of great wealth.  Upon her death, entry-level merchandise was purchased for her burial.  To those of us working at the funeral home, it seemed as though her funeral would be mediocre. Her family prepared their program, printed their service folders, produced their memory movie, assembled and delivered their own floral arrangements, along with other tasks customarily performed by the funeral home.  They were indeed frugal people and as funeral day approached, there was nothing to suggest that her funeral would surpass ordinary. Her visitation began Friday evening.  Guests trickled in a few here and a few there; they did not linger.  They offered their condolences to her son and then took their leave.  About halfway through the evening, he asked to use a microphone. Suddenly, guests stopped leaving.  They assembled in the chapel and each found a seat.  Little by little, as guest after guest took the lectern, it became clear that the woman lying in state had been extraordinary while living.  One after another, they would speak of her generosity to them:  groceries delivered to many upon hard times, air conditioners freely given to those suffering blazing temperatures while combating illnesses and recuperation, financial support to friends who suffered monetary setbacks while they worked to regain self-reliance, and emotional support and donations to those suffering bereavement.  She shared her heart and sustenance freely with those in crisis. Her funeral was the following morning.  I expected a small gathering.  Her family, neighbors, friends, and community began arriving 90 minutes before services were due to begin.  Before I knew it, our chapel was at capacity.  I opened the overflow to accommodate the large gathering.  Within minutes, all seats were occupied.  I began seating guests in the foyer; soon it was filled as well.  I brought out event seating and her services began. Continue Reading →

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CDC Releases Alarming Suicide Rates

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released staggering suicide facts last week.  In all but one state (Nevada which saw a 1% drop in suicide rates), the overall rate increased across the board since 1999 with over half of the states seeing an increase of 30% or more.  Furthermore, over half (54%) of those deaths had no reported “mental health conditions.”  They had, however, recently experienced relationship problems (42%); a crisis in the past or upcoming two weeks (29%); substance abuse issues (28%); a physical health problem (22%); a job/financial problem (16%); a criminal/legal problem (9%); or a loss of housing (4%). Several months ago, I received a very interesting phone call.  The woman on the other end of the line introduced herself as a psychiatrist who had dined with my youngest daughter the previous evening.  Along with a panel of professional leaders and other psychiatrists, this woman had been tasked with evaluating a severe productivity failure in a workforce of over 70,000.   The members of the task force had met on numerous occasions to discuss, organize, and compile their findings.  They would be presenting their final report that very afternoon. She explained that the day prior, she had received a call from the presiding authority over this workforce.  He asked her to meet and interview my daughter.  She followed through with the request and exclaimed that she, as well as the other members of the task force, now found themselves in a state of uncertainty. Over the past year, each member of the task force had traveled the globe, surveying, interviewing, and analyzing a large sampling of workers to identify their weaknesses and compile a workable plan to restore productivity levels.  She expounded that their conclusions were relative to millennial preferences and needs. She requested a few moments of my time to investigate my daughter’s history, her personality, her accomplishments, disappointments, education, family dynamic, etc. Continue Reading →

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Wolves Nipping at our Heels

Three and one-half years ago, my youngest daughter underwent total spine fusion due to severe scoliosis. Two years ago, she was in Houston, visiting friends, and the automobile in which she was a rear seat passenger, was rear-ended on the freeway. Perhaps for most people, this would not have been a big deal, but due to the velocity of the impact, and the fact that her back now has no movement whatsoever, she was knocked out by the severe snapping of her neck. Once she regained herself, she realized that she had glass jabbed into various places throughout her body, she was unable to move her neck and right arm, she was confused, frightened, bleeding, unable to hear due to severe ringing in her ears, and in pain. At the time of the accident, my daughter was preparing to serve a mission. Continue Reading →

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How Do I Love Thee

Wow, have you ever had one of those weeks where it starts in a crazy rush and before you know it, what seemed out of control on Monday, turns out to have actually been the calmest part of the week?  That has been my week. As I woke up on Monday, I knew exactly what I would write about in my article.  Before I could even sit down to write, however, my topic had changed.  I needed a few days to settle down, so I decided I would wait until Wednesday to begin my article.  By Wednesday, my topic had changed yet again.  What a week.  Now that it is Friday, I have decided, I must write three different articles. My Monday morning actually began two years ago, but that is the topic of my second article.  First, I must write my first article.  My first article began two weeks ago when my cousin’s husband was diagnosed with cancer.  Within two weeks of diagnosis, he passed from that same illness.  She and her family are devastated. As she and I stood at his casket in my funeral home, she reached out and touched his hand.  In a barely audible voice, she whispered to me, “I only hope he knew that I loved him.”  As tears swelled over the boundaries of my eyes, I assured her that he had. How very sad to wonder if your spouse knew the depth of your love for him/her.  As I drove in the car with my husband the next day, I reached for his hand.  I looked at him and asked, “Sweet Pea, do you know that I love you more than life itself and that without you, my life would be over, and I would wither away in loneliness and sadness?”  My husband looked at me and asked if there were something he should know about?  I assured him that all was well, but that it was very important for me to know, that he knew, that my love for him was greater than my desire to live without him by my side. Continue Reading →

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Challenges of Sudden Death

Sudden Death is a unique category of loss. It includes heart attacks, strokes, suicides, homicides, and accidents. GRIEF BRIEF 116

Sudden deaths are those that occur without warning. These types of deaths require special understanding and intervention. Sudden deaths are more difficult to grieve and recover from than other deaths that give some warning. Continue Reading →

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Never Play in the Street

When I was a little girl, my mother taught me never to play in the street.  When I was a mother with young children, I taught them as my mother did me; “Never play in the street.”

There is wisdom in teaching one’s children prudence, safety, and manners in their youth.  One hopes a well-trained child will carry the “Pearls of Wisdom” taught during childhood through the lines of lineage, and rely upon them during times of distress and danger.   Solomon’s advice to parents “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6), is literally as applicable today as it was when time first began. As a child matures, parents must bridge the concepts presented in childhood into their maturing environment.  One hopes that the child will process the concept of evolution and appropriate application within their maturing mind and adequately apply it to their ever-changing environment.  Parents should test the abilities of their children as they progress through the maturing process for concepts of critical thinking and application.  Additionally, parents should expand the concepts into wider applications expanding the child’s growing world. For example, “Don’t play in the street.” to a young child may mean, “Do not ride your tricycle in the road.”  However, for a teenager, “Don’t play in the street.” may mean, “No drag racing.”  The concept, “Being in the Road is Dangerous,” is the same.  The application, however, is age appropriate.  The concept has bridged the eras of life. Sadly, I recently served a family where the concept “Never play in the street.” did not bridge from tricycles to automobiles.  This heartbroken family suffered the loss of a young man practicing his independence.  One late evening as he traveled home from his activities, his vehicle became disabled.  Rather than utilizing his cell phone for roadside assistance, he ventured out into the street to flag down passing motorists.  Not expecting a man in the road, he was struck by an unsuspecting motorist. Now two families suffer from this tragic lapse of concept bridging.  One family has lost a son, the other carries the weight of that loss through feelings of guilt.  Both families grieve this loss; both feel sorrow, anger, and fear. Continue Reading →

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Easter News

My very first case as a licensed funeral director was my great uncle. His death was quite some time ago, but I remember it very well. I was sitting in church Easter Sunday and my cell phone rang. I stepped out into the foyer and answered the call. It was my dear cousin telling me that her father had just past. Continue Reading →

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