Sunday, December 23, 2007

In the blink of an eye

It always seems when your back is turned for a moment, that's when things happen that you would not have allowed yourself not to be part of.

About three weeks after I returned from my last "getaway", I accidentally discovered that an acquaintance's daughter had died while I was away. They had gone to a different funeral home but that meant nothing to me other than I would have surely known sooner. The girl that died was in her twenties and had been stricken with Krohn's disease for as long as I knew her and her parents. Her mother and I had worked together for about 8 years and I had gotten to meet her family which included her husband and two daughters. We didn't have too much in common other than we saw each other daily and wound up at many functions together. The daughter I speak of was an intelligent, sweet girl and I saw her on an average of maybe once a month yet I almost felt closer to her than to her parents. My wife and I often spoke of her illness.

Over the short time that I could call us "friends", her mother was constantly taking the child to different doctors all over the state. Apparently, in the end there was more to it than Krohn's disease. When we parted paths our friendship ended in the sense that we rarely spoke and even more rarely saw one another. In the past few years I don't think we made any type of contact at all. "Out of sight, out of mind" is too true.

There is no doubt in my mind that if I had read her daughters obituary as all of this was taking place I would have certainly attended both the visitation and memorial service that took place. The two of us would have gone together.

The saddest part of all this for me is that still until today I haven't contacted her mother to express my sympathy because I don't know what to say to her. I'm supposed to be this funeral director who is trained in bereavement, trained in helping those who are grieving and yet I can't find the words to say to this mother and father. I've been taught that if you don't know what to say, it's better to say nothing at all....well....what I have just recently learned is that saying nothing at all is also a yourself. I have to do or say something, that's obvious to me now but guess what? Now I'm thinking I waited too long and don't want to pick at scabs.

I wish I knew what to do that would be best for this girls family.


paisley said...

just dial the number and open your mouth,, say what ever comes out... i trust you,... it will be fine... i am sure they would love to hear from you.....

Anonymous said...

For *me*...

When, I cannot speak...I don't....

But, a mere visit...doesn't require words :)

Sometimes, I think that people are too busy talking when they could be hard-core listening.

I see that you are an excellent listener.

Why not set up a listening?

I know that *whatever* you decide to do will be the best thing that anyone in your situation could and would do.

And, even if you DO decided to speak...why not lead w/ that?

I've been a funeral director for ___ years and I have no idea what to say to you right now.

Lead the listener lead from there?

Catherine said...

If it were me, I would call them and start off with..."Hello, this is Catherine. I recently heard the terrible news of your daughter and honestly, I don't know what to say. My heart has been aching so much after learning about this and I want you to know that I am here for you. Is there anything at all that I can do?".

This isn't even advice, it's just what I would say.

Don't put yourself down about being a funeral director and not knowing what to do. You are human and when things are emotional, it's tough to know what to do at times.

You are such an incredible person and wonderful soul. I'm sure that you just picking up the phone and letting them know you are thinking of them will help the parents.

On a completely different note, I would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas and New Year's. Thank you for all that you do. I am so happy to have met you.

randilee said...

I think we all feel this way at times. My husband is a funeral director and when his mother died we had a difficult time helping our own children. It's different when it hits so close to home. I am going to bookmark your blog.