Unfortunately, I had to spend time at a funeral home recently. Strangely, its a specific funeral home that I've had to be at more than a few times throughout my life. I'm not a big fan of these things - or at least when they are put on in the traditional sense. They are stressful, not often fostering of true grieving, and stifling in their stiffness. Whenever Stephen and I are going to, or coming from, a funeral, we have the same conversations about how we want OUR passing to be marked (or not - please people, I'll be gone, go have a party or something) and then we laugh about the stereotypes of every funeral and funeral home we've been to. Perhaps we do this to brace ourselves with humor before heading into these things, who knows, but we've picked apart the tacky carpet and wallpaper, lack of food (and drink!) and so many other things well before we arrive.
Anyway, this recent visit had me positioned in a place where I was directly observing the funeral home employee who was there to work the funeral we were there for (not a fan of open caskets, people, the hall was much easier to handle). And, instead of jumping to my snarky remarks I watched this gentleman. When you really look at this work - its got to be a grind. You have to handle people (and their emotions!) during one of the worst times in their life. Its not exactly a barrel of laughs, you have to dress up, witness pain, grief and unfortunately sometimes fighting. You're stuck on your feet the whole time trying to fulfill people's needs when what they really need isn't something you can bring them, oh and you have to polite and respectful all the time - and appear kind, but not too jovial, supportive but not condescending, available but not obvious. That is One. Tall. Order. (and when its snowing you have to worry about the door that won't close, all that snow, salt and ice and the many, many coats.)
I have a new respect for those in this line of work. Like those who work in some specific fields of health care and other area of support, these people are special. They have a gift for caring, selflessness, and tradition. They see us at our most raw, brutal and hurt and they face it, accept it, and move on. They have to be attentive and supportive but yet they can't care too much - otherwise i think the burden would be crushing.
Never noticed these folks during a service or visiting hours, and yet never looked for anything? Well then they've done their job. Thank you to those who do their best to allow us to grieve, heal and reunite. I don't know that I could do your job every day - particularly because of that dang wallpaper.
3 weeks ago