Friday, November 21, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Over the course of time that I have been writing this blog, I have discussed many topics that have been directly related to funerals, death, pain and the like. Each post I wrote had something to do with emotions and was somehow meant for the person outside of the funeral industry to better understand what I do and also attempt to assist with knowledge that has always been mysterious. Before I go on with this post, I would like to make the disclaimer that I am not an attorney, nor do I have the right to give legal advice to anyone however I have been forced, if you will, to learn certain things which involve the law and am happy to pass on the information that I have learned.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The "Boot" of the mainland not far away indeed
See, she was the highlight, a Capuchin claim to fame
All the ruins I had seen each day since the start
But when I entered the cavernous mausoleum of sorts,
Eight thousand in all literally hung in this abode
Wilted bouquets, relics and toys lined almost each wall
Slowly I walked my way down each section and saw
That this was not eerie, not disgusting not vile
Saturday, May 10, 2008
In the past I have written about people that I have dealt with in a funeral home setting who were going through the throes of trying to understand a suicide. I've expressed the opinion, vaguely, that this type of death could somewhat be understood because the person or persons who committed this "act" must have been in a terrific amount of pain, either physically or emotionally, or both of these feelings somehow combined. I am still of the opinion that in order to take your own life one must be in dire straits, however until recently I was never literally part of the actual event, thereby not truly able to understand the emotions of the people left behind.
Several Monday mornings ago however, I was baptised and was given the unfortunate opportunity to experience a suicide from another perspective. I didn't counsel a virtual stranger who walked through my door at an appointed time to assist in taking care of their dead loved one; a family members spouse took his life early that Monday morning after a long battle with cancer (which by the way he had won) who was on his way to full recovery and within thirty minutes of his discovery I was contacted. I knew he had been ill, and also knew he would recover so that mornings events were the farthest thing from mine or anyone else's mind. Within twenty minutes I had flight arrangements and was on my way to assist as best I could. The next few days were like a roller coaster almost out of control.
Apparently when he was initially deemed terminal the thoughts of ending his life had arisen within him, were shared as well as understood yet were never acted upon; the decision was made to go ahead and attempt to beat the disease, and as I mentioned earlier, he had. Quite honestly if he had still been classified as terminal, one could understand his reasoning and although it would have still been painful, acceptance would have been much, much easier. No note or letter was left behind so there is no way of ever knowing the true "why" behind this. It is very simple and easy to say "it's not your fault", "you can't beat yourself up over this" and the like but in essence the people left behind feel inadequate, feel as though they have been dumped, perhaps even somewhat responsible.
Some may say too bad, it was his life and his choice, just deal with it while others, including myself, feel that this particular instance was a very selfish act, but let me explain myself before you end this read. I truly am of the belief that we should be in total control of our lives and have the right to end it at will, however we also have a responsibility to those we leave behind. When someone loves another, explanations are not only expected, I believe they are deserved. Trying not to speak ill of the dead, I don't blame this man for anything he did; I can't say whether he should or shouldn't have done what he did and I realize that he had to be utterly desperate for a way out, a fixative measure. In summation I guess I have to feel lucky that I have never felt the pain I feel caused this.
I still stand firm however, on the feeling that it was his right, but I also feel it was his obligation to his wife, the one he had the contract with, the one he loved and who loved him in return to at the very least leave some sort of clue as to why he felt that this was the only means available to him. You see it may have solved his problems, but by doing so he has created an entire barrel of new ones for someone else: physically, emotionally as well as monetarily. I guess this stance could be construed as selfish as well but we all have some sort of responsibility to the people we interact with and even though she would have tried to help him with a different means, I think a simple explanation would have sufficed.
Friday, May 9, 2008
The child was born one springlike morn, her parents hearts stood still
angelic in her every form, expectations she did fulfill
she was the girl they waited for, their wants there were no more
much like a precious china doll, her graces they did sing
according to each grades counselor, her mates she did surpass
yet did not bare her deepest sense, and used Jim as her decoy
she was so strong yet oh so tired and her secret was unfurled
she would not tell if you had asked but women she would flatter
she often wished it was not true, but by god she was no magician
but through it all the girl could see, they wished she had a prince
involved were doctors, lawyers, cops and even a few courts
to her it was a "normal" life but to many her existence a sin
in time she had been excluded from, the family, the whole group
it was now the time to say goodbye, to finalize the sever
she wanted them to know she cared, and hoped they would rejoice
she thanked them all for all they'd done, to help her ease the slack
no longer would she have to explain, to no one, not anymore
she laid the gun unto her head and squeezed, it was deployed
and all they ever really did was make her feel forlorn
but also see the gun as it was, her rocket, her taxi, her pung
but we must accept, the choice is theirs, an eternal, irreversible crutch
***I wish there was a way for her to know that her family truly loved her, respected her, may not have always agreed with her, and now wish.....they could have been her crutch. If anyone should have left it should have been them.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
In the past ten days since my father has passed I have come to coin a phrase of my own; "Coffin Chasers". Yes, "Coffin Chasers". Let me explain myself a bit. It all began innocently enough the day of my fathers wake when a realtor who will remain nameless, visited the funeral home to pay her respects. This realtor had sold my father his home nearly six years ago and had never had any contact with him since; they were not friends. I also used this realtor when I purchased my home and have spoken to her perhaps 3 times in the last 9 years, very briefly; we're not friends either. When I first saw her I thought it was extremely nice of her to visit.
About three days later, just after his burial I received a solicitation, a phone call from a local attorney, again not a friend, advising me that I needed to find my fathers will and bring it to her and she would take care of everything from there. At the time I thought it very odd that she was calling me advising me what I needed to do, especially since I had not asked for her help. As the days progressed I received a letter from an unknown attorney again advising me that their firm would be happy to assist in the probate and distribution process; all I needed to do was call the number on the business card provided. So far this doesn't sound too bad, I know. I have been asked by other people who have no right in my opinion to even broach the subject, what my intentions are with certain property, you see they would "like to invest". Another gentleman, using the term lightly, has advised me that before I sell anything, a friend of his would like to speak to me first and we can avoid paying a realtor. Others have told me what I need to do, or who I need to give the contents of his home to, I've gotten sympathy cards from bankers I don't even know....every one of these "helpful", opportunistic people have simply taken it upon themselves to let me know what I need to do and have no right in my book to even stick their noses in. I can't help but read their thoughts of possible gain from my fathers death and would really like to spit at them.
Now I realize that right now I'm a little sensitive when it comes to this matter, and have to admit that I can be very cynical at times, but I can't see this type of behavior. It's all communicated under the guise that they are trying to help and would be welcomed...IF I HAD ASKED! I try to think of it in reverse and wonder how it would be accepted or what kind of a shit I would be if I visited or wrote families that I deal with and asked them these same questions or gave them this same advice. I have had experience in sales and I know I'm now a "prospect", simply by virtue of an obituary, but a line needs to be drawn defining when and how this contact should be allowed.
In conclusion, if any of these people have done what they have simply out of concern or respect I apologize, but if they haven't....they'll just have to read between the lines of the three upheld fingers of my right hand.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The only way I can console myself is knowing that he is no longer in pain; he actually wanted to die, he was tired, finished, ready. I loved him, still do, we all do and always will but he won't be around anymore and it hurts bad. I guess some people might think that because I see this every day that it has to be easy for me, or easier; I'm not sure if that's true, I don't think it is.
One of my colleagues assisted in directing his funeral and spoke to the crowd in the cemetery after the committal service and recited a poem by Linda Ellis. I had heard it before but to hear it at that moment helped us all so much. I want to thank the poet, Linda Ellis and I want to thank Doris for these words. Please read this:
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
His last hospital stay was the first time his "DNR" was posted for me to see, for all to see. I knew his wishes and was not really shocked by his request; I knew it had been in place for many years but to actually see it hanging on his door was difficult to say the least.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
The other evening my wife and I met the mother of a child I had buried not quite one year ago. She was 15 years old when she was killed in an avoidable automobile accident and had a full life ahead of her. Her mother, brother, grandparents, still cannot bear her loss. The day we spoke they had her head stone erected and her death was once again brought right up front in their minds. If only this child had thought to consider the possible consequences perhaps she would be alive today. I try to spread this as far as I can; our kids need to know that they are precious and very fragile...teach them to think, please. Thank You.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I was grateful for the gift and wanted to do something with it but it seemed as though I never found the time or had the chance to do anything but keep it wrapped in the newspaper I received it in. As a matter of fact, to this day it still lays in the bottom of a closet wrapped up and in a brown paper bag. If an unknowing person were to discover it perhaps they would simply take it for what it currently looks like; a dirty rock wrapped in old news print, maybe a doorstop.
I don't know how old these things are, nor do I know how many people have just passed them by as being useless, dull, craggy rocks but I imagine that the answer to both of those questions would be many years and many a man. This simple Geode has made me today think of the untapped beauty and worth inside of all of us. Figuratively speaking, I also wonder how many people have passed us by and thought of us as just being what we look like on the outside without bothering or finding the time to see what we may have hidden inside of us? I would even be willing to bet that some of us ourselves haven't completely discovered what we carry within.
It's so easy to take things at face value and disregard the possibilities or forget to look deeper; in my hectic days I have to admit that I do it all the time. I don't have time to explore every inch of everything or everybody to be sure that I know I haven't missed something, some hidden treasure; I find myself too wrapped up with the routine. But...this is no excuse, not a good one anyway.
This sort of reminds me of my previous post about weeds but this is slightly different. Unlike the weed who over time showed its beauty, this is about searching for it; discovering it before it presents itself. I need to sharpen my skills when it comes to recognizing the difference between a rock and a gem, a pain in the ass and someone in pain. It makes no sense to leave it to chance. Just because the outside presents itself a certain way doesn't necessarily mean the inside is the same.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that we all need to slow down and look for what's not evident. Life is too damned short to let things pass us by simply because we're hurrying to get nowhere; it's too short to take anything or anyone for granted. Tomorrow these same people and things that we bypass today will be gone and we might never have the chance to savor the nougat center, the cherry in the middle so to speak, if we don't at the very least try.
More importantly is that without our searching, we may never be able to offer the deserved recognition of ones inner, beautiful crystals. The beauty that longs to be shared.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
When I was licensed for about a year I worked for a small firm, there were only two of us, and it was a rare occasion when we had more than one funeral happening at the same time. I remember once when we had two calls going on and we mistakenly dressed the wrong woman in the wrong clothes, put her in the wrong casket and set it up for the family to view. It wasn't until the family told us that the woman they were viewing wasn't their mother that the mistake was realized. Luckily for us that they didn't know that their mother was dressed in the wrong clothes and was in the wrong casket as well. We supplied new clothing and corrected the error before the other family ever knew. The family that did see our error actually wasn't too upset except for the clothing which as I mentioned we replaced gratis in an attempt to cover our butts!
See if you can get a mental picture of this. A funeral is about to begin in a church and the casket has been up front and center, opened, for a visitation of sorts. Just before the service is to begin, two directors walk up to the altar and prepare the casket to be closed; in front of an entire congregation. One of the gentleman removes the flowers from the half opened casket and the other folds everything into place, the casket is closed and the lid sort of held down while the other uses a crank to "seal" the casket. At the end of this display the crank is pocketed and they will now simultaneously turn and walk down the aisle; a show for sure. The only problem is however that the one holding down the lid now has the end of his tie sealed into the casket and almost gives himself whiplash as he tries to turn; in front of everyone!
I told you about the time I was directing the funeral when the hearse was pulled into the cemetery and somehow wound up locked with us outside and the casket inside. Talk about an embarrassing situation.
Then there's the story about the part timer who was taking a casket out of town for a burial; it was going to be a 3 day trip and the director on the other end was going to handle the services. Arrangements had been made to house the hearse at two different funeral homes during the trip; so as not to leave the casket out in the elements both homes had garages that we could use. I'm not sure if it's habit or real necessity but keys are always in the vehicles anywhere you go. Can you imagine how the part timer felt after pulling into the cemetery at his final destination only to realize that he had taken the wrong hearse from the garage that morning and no one else noticed either? Yes, the funeral was delayed but the family supposedly took it rather well.
I myself have been covered with mud from head to toe after falling into an unoccupied open grave. When the family arrived at the cemetery, they as well as my boss helped me out of the hole!
It's a good thing that we all have to learn restorative art because I can tell you, without the knowledge that we gain from the course, it would be virtually impossible to replace a beard or a mustache that is shaved off by mistake. I have never been unfortunate enough to do this but I know for a fact it has happened; we are masters of disguise and most times not by choice.
These are just a few, very few, of the things that can and do happen within the industry and any director who tells you that they have never heard of anything like this, or never have been involved in something similar is either withholding the truth or hasn't been around long enough to see them occur. It's only when you're talking past tense about these things that they seem funny. When they're happening to you personally, you want to die yourself!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
For as long as I can remember, and that's quite some time, I can recall hearing a phrase over and over and always had a curiosity whether or not there was anything to it. I was a kid, what did I know? The phrase that I'm talking about is "Must be a full moon". Very often when something bad would happen as I was growing up, a murder in the news, a bad car wreck, a fight, anything out of the ordinary, I used to hear this phrase. When I first heard it I had no idea what the reference meant but as years progressed I learned that a full moon was ominous.
Now as an adult, one that has a little bit of education, I should realize that this phrase really meant nothing at all. Perhaps it was something that was coined because of werewolf tales, or it might even go as far back to when the moon was considered a god; I'm not sure. What I do know however is that I still hold onto this superstition (if in fact it is one) to this day. Sounds silly doesn't it? The business I'm in is very random, there is no schedule for when people are going to die that I have access to yet when the moon is full, I can almost guarantee that I will get a call. I told you it was silly.
I have never done a study to see if this is in fact the truth, that the moon has some sort of power over the human body which can cause the weakest of them to die during this time but month after month it seems to hold true; perhaps I should simply be grateful. I know the moon controls the tides, I know there's a gravitational pull, but I'm not sure if there's anything to this moon thing when it comes to death; maybe some of the more educated out there could enlighten me since I haven't been able to locate anything to either explain or refute it.
So, anyway, as illogical as It sounds, I began thinking that some if not most superstitions might have a modicum of truth to them and decided to look further into the subject. I came across this website that listed literally pages of superstitions, most that I had never even heard of and lo and behold there was nothing concerning a full moon. Now, this discovery doesn't prove anything to me as far as this not being a true superstition but I thought it was more well known. Humor me here, I'm not really a country bumpkin, I have been out in the world, but has anyone else heard of this expression/superstition and if so what are your beliefs and experiences regarding it. Thanks for reading!
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
You can't begin to imagine how much I want to do this yet how much I hate doing it if that makes sense. I truly look forward to the day when I no longer have to stare death in the face on a daily basis, when I no longer have to see people writhing in pain, when I can come first. It sounds selfish, I know, but believe me, even though it's not "my" pain it can be very exhausting to ones body and mind.