I live in a world filled with grief. My work dictates that I see it every day. Grief is not universally the same for everyone. Professionally, I have observed that it is uniquely coded into a survivor’s collective history. It is personal with recovery predicated upon one’s abilities, strategies, and skills. Continue Reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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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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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As a funeral director, I am often asked about acknowledgment cards. One of my funeral arts classes, while attending college, focused on the traditions and etiquette surrounding funerals, so acknowledgment cards are an easy subject to explain. Acknowledgment cards are merely thank you cards addressing services performed by those who participated in any way at a funeral or assisted in relieving the mourner’s burdens. They should be written on card stock, rather than plain paper, and sent out in a timely fashion. Funeral homes offer funeral specific cards for your convenience. Continue Reading →
Last night I was talking to my daughter on the phone. She and her sweet little family had just returned to Hawaii, their home, after being on the mainland for twenty days. Today, my son-in-law returns to work. Today marks the one-month anniversary that they posted their reveal for their soon to arrive bundle of joy, on social media. It was an exciting morning. My husband popped his head into my office and announced that our daughter had finally posted her reveal. I couldn’t wait to see it. I jumped online immediately to watch it. I laughed and cried as I watched my daughter, her husband, and my sweet grandchildren, reveal to everyone they love, that they would soon have a new addition gracing their family. My son-in-law does not like to announce pregnancies early as he and his first wife lost a child during gestation. To respect his wishes, my husband and I must hold our excitement and happiness from our family and friends until our daughter’s baby bump becomes undeniable. At that time, our son-in-law relinquishes his secret and we are all free to celebrate. Salutations were coming from far and wide. Friends and family were texting, posting, and phoning with congratulations, and the day was exhilarating. As my husband and I met for lunch, my phone rang once more. I looked at the caller id. Before I answered the phone and before she said a word; I knew. Her voice was strained, she tried not to sound worried, she asked me not to worry – but I knew – my daughter was miscarrying my grandchild. My son-in-law rushed her to the hospital and by dinner, she was induced. Our grandson was delivered in Hawaii the day his mother posted his reveal on social media – lifeless – to brokenhearted parents and brokenhearted grandparents. By nightfall, the congratulations were no longer coming. In their stead, tears filled our hearts, and condolences and flowers filled our home. Continue Reading →
I like to think most people are decent people. In the event of a tragedy, I like to think that almost everyone, even those who ordinarily experience a deficit in decency, will step up to their better selves and lend a hand of compassion to those who suffer. I have often been told that I see the world, and humanity, through rose-colored glasses. This weekend has proven that statement true.
When I see looters or violent mobs on the news, I think to myself, “Well, they are underprivileged people who have never experienced the dignity of self-reliance, the fulfillment of self-mastery, or unselfish dedicated love for anyone other than themselves. Otherwise, how could they so horribly victimize those who have done nothing to them?” Their behavior only serves to taint their cause and bring focus on the negative aspects of their movement. Victimizing others out of tantrum, demonstration, or any other reason is pure barbarism.
The florist brought over flowers for a service this weekend and as she lingered, we took a moment to chat. She mentioned that when she was first married, she miscarried a child just two weeks shy of full term. How utterly heartbreaking. I can’t imagine the heartache she suffered. As we were discussing her experience, she mentioned that during her bereavement she would receive prank phone calls related to the miscarriage. In detail, she related that as she answered the phone, she would be met with a moment of silence before music would begin to play, the song: Rock-A-Bye-Baby.
She endured this torture for six months as the police and phone company tried to trace the phone calls, without success. I cannot imagine the anguish that she suffered, the intensity of grief that continued to build up within her heart and soul at the cruelty of another human being’s actions toward her, and the fear she experienced each time her phone rang. I am surprised that she even has a phone, now that they are cellular. Fortunately, in today’s world, we have caller id and inferior little trolls who would treat a bereft mother so abusively would be easily identified.
Losing a loved one is a serious event, which imposes serious psychological vulnerabilities upon the survivor. In most cases, these vulnerabilities are temporary; however, persons who would exploit such a devastating event are seriously deficient and should be separated from society. Those who would exploit the bereft would also exploit the elderly and the innocent. Such individuals are dangerous and should be exposed. One would be well advised to remove such individuals from their circle of friends before tragedy strikes their lives. Continue Reading →