Tracy Lee

Recent Articles

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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Gumbo

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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USS FITZGERALD – The Co-Victims

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
REGRET (SUDDEN DEATH)
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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Suicide, Recognizing and Preventing It, Part 3

This is part 3 of Tracy Lee’s Suicide Prevention articles.  If you missed the first two, please look them up in our history. SUICIDE PREVENTION TIP #2:  RESPOND QUICKLY IN A CRISIS

Once you have confirmed your suspicions that your friend or family member is indeed contemplating suicide, you need to evaluate their immediate risk level.  Persons intending (INTENT) immediate action upon themselves will have mapped out a specific plan of action (PLAN), they will have prepared their mode or means of action (MEANS), they will have planned or set aside a specific time for the deed (TIME). Exploratory Questions

Asking the following questions will allow you to evaluate their immediate risk factor. INTENT: Do you intend to take your own life? Continue Reading →

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How To Recognize a Suicidal Person

Note:  This is Part I of three parts dealing with Suicide

Last year, I worked diligently at acquiring a placement for my mother and my aunt in an assisted living facility.  They reside just across the hall from each other in a lovely facility about 20 minutes from my home.  Although I am very happy with the facility and their services, I am not sure my mother and aunt are nearly as satisfied.  They miss their health and their independence, and they naturally blame the center’s employees for their loss of emancipation. Since their move there, I have seen a change in their attitudes.  My mother and my aunt have become less and less cooperative with the staff.  They both suffer extreme pain and depend on prescription medications to manage their quality of life.  Recently, I have noticed an increase in self-destructive behavior from my aunt.  I have addressed this with her and she has been unwilling to discuss it calmly and politely.  She angrily strikes at me with menacing words, tells me that her choices are her choices, and insists that I should leave her alone. I would be happy to accommodate my aunt’s request to leave her alone except that I love her and she has no children nor anyone else to care for her.  My aunt only has my mother’s children to care for her as she ages.  If we were to walk away, there would be no one to manage her end of life care.  I live the closest to the assisted living facility, so I am usually the relative called upon when a family member is needed. Last week I requested that my aunt willfully place herself in a behavioral unit for medication evaluation and possible modification.  At first, my aunt was very angry with me, but I remained firm in my request.  As a funeral director, I have witnessed many methods of suicide and my aunt vocalized a disregard for life during our conversations.  Although I did not know beyond question if my aunt were suicidal, I believed she was nearing a cliff that I did not want to see her approach.  With the extreme changes in her behavior and medical condition, my aunt agreed to voluntarily enter the behavioral unit at the local hospital, and we have seen an immediate improvement in her psychological balance. Late last night I received a call from the local area coroner.  There was a suicide not far from my home.  As I prepared myself for travel to the place of suicide, I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving to my Father in Heaven.  I am so thankful that my aunt was strong enough to agree to admit herself into the behavioral unit at the hospital and get the medical treatment that she so desperately needed before something tragic happened to her at her own hand.  As I looked into the faces last night of the adult children of the decedent and spoke with them about what will happen today when they must come to the funeral home and arrange for their father’s final moments before burial, my heart ripped right in half for the pain they were suffering.  I wished in my heart that someone could have seen that their father was nearing a dangerous cliff before he ended his life and had been able to help him seek assistance. Continue Reading →

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Emotional Support

“Following the death of a loved one, there may be a significant need to reach out for emotional support. This can be accomplished through a support group, an understanding cleric, a professional funeral practitioner or a therapist. How do you know if you need professional assistance? If you find that you have unanswered questions or that you need a tool to help you cope with the loss, you might benefit from professional support. When you break your limb, you go to a qualified care professional for proper wound care. Continue Reading →

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