Definitely an interesting childhood life.
Growing up in the funeral home made for an interesting childhood life. My friends and cousins would often ask if we could sneak downstairs to see the caskets. Sometimes we would, but usually one of my cousins would turn off the lights and the girls would scream. As they went tearing back up the stairs to safety, Dad or Grandma would be standing at the doorway, and I usually got paddled. But I would still venture down there again with the gang the next time they came over. After all nobody else had such a cool room to a bunch of curious kids. To this day, the only people that want to go into the selection rooms are casket salesmen and the curious little kids.
How can you do that?
The question that many blurt out when I tell them I’m a funeral director is “Isn’t that depressing?” No it isn’t. I focus on the ability of my family and staff to help a family through the worst time of their life.
Yes we do feel great sadness about the tragic deaths, any caring person will. We see one of our main responsibilities is as a support person to help the surviving family. We know that with help, the grieving family members will be able to work through their grief to rebuild their lives. We know that the service we provide enables the family to draw valuable support from the community. That support is one of the main remedy’s for the grieving heart.
The thanks and hugs we often receive from a family when we have completed the services support our own emotions. It makes it much easier to go to the aid of the next family who calls in the middle of the night because some tragedy has taken a member of their family.
And yes every death is a tragedy. Even the aging grandparent that has succumbed to a lengthy illness. That is a tragedy to their innocent young grandchildren. The magnitude of the tragedy varies for each family and their circumstances. We recognize that and treat every family with the respect and care they deserve.
So what is life like for a small town funeral director?
Some weeks are a constant blur of motion from early morning to early morning the next day. Last week was like that. Summer vacations of family and staff (in our case staff is often family) had created a shortage of full time staff. This meant that we filled in with our great part time staff members. Being part time they aren’t as fast at some of the tasks, so it took a bit more time to fulfill those tasks. We had to be vigilant in completing the required tasks, because even small details can become large concerns for a family in grief. My days started early, usually around 6:30 or 7:00 am, and often ended around 12:30 or 1:00 am the next day. I really don’t mind because I know it will slow down again. “I can sleep when I’m old” is what Joe Sr. often says.