Earlier this year, when we lost our grandson, our family agreed that the best place to bury him was at our funeral home. His death and funeral seemed so surreal; dreamlike, in a nightmarish sort of way. My husband and I reside in our funeral home. Mikey Joe is buried just outside of our great room window. The location of his grave places him beside us when we sit to eat our meals and relax before retiring to bed. This closeness allows me to tend to my grandson’s needs, just as I do for any of my grandchildren. Mikey Joe’s needs, however, are different from theirs. For him, I tend to the physical needs of his grave. Doing so tends to my emotional needs and encourages my grief to soften. When we buried Mikey Joe, we decided to uproot our plantings around the funeral home and place in their stead, a memorial for deceased children. For the past eight months, my husband and I have sought and purchased bronze statues of children engaged in the merriment of childhood activities. These statues will be the focal point of the memorial, surrounded by pavers engraved with the names of lost children. The memorial will assist families to heal by providing a permanent spot of remembrance. We have a lovely ballerina, a boy playing football, two children playing leapfrog, and a little girl cooing a little bird. Last week, I acquired three additional statues; a boy sitting on a saddle, a boy roping, and a girl with her lariat. Although these three children complete our goals for the monument, I hope one day to obtain a bronze pony to match them. Two days ago, I drove my husband to Dallas to hop a plane to Colorado to collect the three statues and transport them back to Texas. I made the air flight and vehicle rental reservations online. Because his flight was too early for us to drive there in a timely fashion, we rented a hotel room in Dallas. I waited as he checked his luggage to make sure that all was well before I drove away. During check-in, the attendant informed him that he was 14 hours early for his flight. I had made a terrible mistake and in order to return safely home, I would have to drive away and leave him there. I dreaded the discomfort he would endure. Continue Reading →
Through my research this weekend, I came upon an interesting story about suicide prevention. The article showcased a young man who was contemplating suicide. Unlike many persons in that state of mind, he reached out to his family and community. The article encouraged all to reach out, and rather than judge, offer support and love to those who might be contemplating or have attempted suicide. This young man’s family concentrated on telling him how much he was loved and how much they wanted him to stay with them. Continue Reading →
Death can be a frightening, lonely, and painful experience. I see death every day of the week. In fact, I have seen death every single day of the past decade. In witnessing this plethora of death, I have gained a unique perspective on the ultimate pain of loss, as well as the struggles through its ensuing grief. Of late, I have found the number of proportionate deaths within the generations younger than my own, soaring. These deaths seem directly related to lifestyles that have negatively affected physical and/or mental health. It seems that a good number of prime-aged adults either do not realize or do not care, about consequences related to actions and choices: even when that consequence is death. I find that persons devoid of consequential beliefs often act irresponsibly toward themselves and others. They seem oblivious to the pain they impose upon those who love them and disrespectful toward a higher being. Upon their death, those who share their inconsequential belief system suffer the demons of loss and grief through inconsolable hopelessness. It seems that more times than not, their solutions are based on wrangling their pain, as they do their responsibilities, into suppression. This myth of recovery is not one of healing; it is one of self-deception and may impose confusion, derangement, paranoia, and neurosis into the life of the survivor. In all fairness, I see these same behaviors in older generations. It is a reality, however; that I see the consequences of death in greater numbers among prime-aged adults. It pains and worries me that so many of them self-inflict their deaths due to selfish acts of abuse upon themselves. Additionally, it frightens me beyond comprehension, as I have children and grandchildren within this demographic. As their mother and grandmother, I see the impact of the inconsequential lifestyle infiltrating their tolerance and becoming acceptable to them. Before long, I fear that they may succumb to the same end as those I see lying on my embalming table. What then is the answer to this life-threatening lifestyle of inconsequential behavior? Continue Reading →
When I first entered funeral service, I did not realize the impact funeral homes have within the community. In college, my professors would talk about the politics of owning a funeral home. Now that I own one, I see the opportunities to help make the community at large, a better place.
Yesterday, as I sat in the great room of my funeral home, two women entered. They introduced themselves and stated they were walking my city looking for people who needed help. They were also seeking support from those who had resources to share. They themselves had once been in desperate circumstances and had been rescued by others seeking them out. I listened to their stories and became interested in the organization that rescued them. It turns out that a pastor and his wife started a rescue program and have helped many people recover from various types of abuse and addiction. I donated to their cause and they left. It is a wonderful thing to see someone help someone else, to see the effects of positive change, and to witness one who has lost his/her way find redemption. I believe there are times in everyone’s life when caring assistance or rescuing is needed. Additionally, it is my opinion that outreach is the key to saving humanity. This morning as I perused this organization’s website, I thought, how fulfilling it would be to open an outreach facility and help lost souls find refuge. As I began formulating a plan for such an undertaking, I remembered, I am already in the undertaking business. Not only have I undertaken the responsibility of preparing and burying the dead, I facilitate survivors recover through grief counseling. Continue Reading →
When I was a young mother, I loved spending time with my daughters. My husband and I would plan inexpensive weekend get-aways and mid-week activities that centered on making wonderful memories and traditions with them. Our daughters are now adults with children of their own. I watch them doing the same things with their children that we did with ours. It brings joy to my heart. As a young mother, I did not enjoy housework. In all honesty, I loathed housework. To this very day, I truly do not enjoy housework. My focus, however, has changed. Now as I clean my house, I wish it were as easy as it once was. The aches of age and the wear and tear on my joints protest as I bend to scrub the shower, or as I stand leaning over the sink washing my dishes. My heart has changed too. How I yearn for those days when my house was filled with children. My chore list was enormous, but my heart was full. Now I look at my chores and think how wonderful it would be to be washing sheets for my daughters again, fixing their beds, brushing their hair, and planning wonderful outings with them. My girls live far from my home, which means my grandchildren live far from grandma’s home. That makes my heart lonely. As I work through my chore list, I remember fondly the joy my girls brought into my life. Those memories help my chore list seem lighter and less dreary. The love I have for my children sees me through my loneliest days. Continue Reading →
I was speaking with a loved one recently. Our topic of conversation was to determine if he would add a burial vault to his wife’s burial plan. While conversing, it occurred to me that perhaps the purpose of a vault, compared to that of a casket, is confusing to those who are not funeral professionals. Casket: a receptacle of wood, metal or plastic into which the dead human body is placed for burial. The casket has only one basic function – to move a dead human body from one place to another in a dignified and safe manner. Continue Reading →
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Today was my grandson’s due date. Instead of being at the hospital with my daughter to welcome him into our family, my husband, younger daughter, and I took our bistro table and set it beside his grave. We had dinner and birthday cake and took photos to send to his mom in Hawaii. We placed a baby boy balloon and carnations upon his tiny grave and prayed to our Heavenly Father to let our Mikey Joe know that we love and miss him. It was a very somber and difficult day. When Mikey Joe passed five months ago, my world stopped. It has been reeling ever since. My concentration has suffered, my stamina has suffered, and I find that things that used to matter a great deal to me now are mediocre and somewhat unimportant. I find that I do not wake up every morning ready to jump out of bed and begin my day. I do not attack my work with fervor as I once did. Even lifelong habits, like applying my make-up, fall out of order and are disorganized. His tiny little life inside of his mother’s womb affected my life ever so deeply. Only my belief that we will reunite as a family in God’s presence keeps my life going. As I prepared for bed, I checked social media and saw this post from his mother. As her mother, my heart breaks for the pain she suffers. I know it pales compared to my own. “Five months ago I gave birth to a baby boy. He was so beautiful and precious. Continue Reading →
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My husband and I go to a movie and out to dinner every Tuesday. Unlike most couples, our weekends are almost always filled with funerals and Mondays are insanely backlogged with paperwork. That makes Tuesday our weekend. It is the slowest day of the week for us and it is the senior discount day for many businesses. The movie theatre near our home offers a wonderful discount every Tuesday so it makes our evening out very affordable. Continue Reading →
Six weeks ago, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. This devastating announcement was unexpected. She and my brother rushed off to a cancer treatment center in another state. We have great expectations that her treatment there will prove miraculous.
I traveled to Louisiana this weekend to see my brother and his wife. We are expecting results from a recent blood test to inform us of whether her condition has improved, remained the same, or worsened. We are praying for improvement. My sister-in-law has always been very health conscious. Among us, she has been the one who has deprived herself of any food-related pleasure, has maintained a routine exercise program, has avoided excessive sun exposure, and seen her doctor annually for check-ups; yet, it is she who has extensive cancer. She suffers pain, nausea, confusion, sadness, self-blame, fear, exhaustion, depression, etc. My brother does too. We are all confused. We wonder how this happened and what should be done to save her? She and my brother research exhaustively, potential treatments (natural, of course) and the rest of us pray intently for her return to health. We discussed possible treatment options this weekend. There are so many obstacles to obtaining them, primarily distance and expense. My brother and his wife are professional people; however, her treatments within the last six-weeks have already exhausted their financial reserves. They are now looking at creative options to afford additional treatment. Continue Reading →
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Yesterday evening, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend a lovely intimate concert. Well, 20 minutes of it anyway. My husband purchased tickets to a concert about three weeks ago and as the days past, we had a funeral scheduled for the exact same day. The concert began at 3:00 PM and was scheduled to end at 5:00 PM. It was in a town almost an hour away from our home and the scheduled funeral ended around 3:45 PM. As we entered the concert hall, the performer stopped his performance, scanned the audience, found us with his gaze, and asked, “Did Y’all just get here? Maybe you were at church, you look like a Preacher.” My husband replied that we were funeral directors and had been delayed due to a family’s need. The performer replied, “Ah, same thing, it’s a ministry. I hope it was at least profitable for you.”
He then segued to a song that had been a big hit for his father. I do not know if his conversation with my husband influenced the selection, or if it was just the next song in his repertoire, however, it was about a man going to meet his death. The performer’s father had been in prison and had been befriended by an older man in the cell next to him. The older man was serving three consecutive life sentences and had decided, along with two other inmates, to escape San Quinton Prison. The performer’s father thought he might like to escape along with them, but his friend asked him to reconsider. As the two inmates became friends, they both learned about the other’s life. The older more experienced criminal told the younger less experienced inmate that he needed not escape with him. He explained that he intended to never return to prison and that he would do whatever that goal required. He told his younger friend to get his life in order, to return to his family, and to follow his unshared talent of playing the guitar and singing with the world. The older man escaped with his two inmate friends, but was hunted, and caught in a firefight with law enforcement. The two friends were killed in the encounter and the older man shot and killed a police officer. His sentence was capital punishment. He returned to San Quinton Prison for execution. Continue Reading →