Last week was a great week for me. I received a call for help from a dear friend, whose mother had just passed away. I am a funeral director, and helping others when they are hurt to their core, when waking and functioning are more than they can bear, and when their lives have become bitterly painful, gives me great satisfaction.
I immediately drove my hearse over to my friend’s house, which is just down the street from my own, and sat with her, holding her hand as she called and notified her family of their great loss. My friend is a brave woman. She is a therapist; her job is to help others heal. Healing others comes naturally to her, and she is great at it. She finds the good in people and helps them draw upon their inner strength for recovery. She is an amazing woman.
As I sat there, beside her, holding her hand, I felt her breath quiver and her hand tremble ever so slightly. I knew I was witnessing the courage of a healer, mustering all of the valor she held in reserve, for this most dreaded and grievous moment. She had just lost her mother, yet she was nurturing and comforting her own adult children through the heart wrenching realization of losing their beloved grandmother. It was a profound moment for me, because I saw her mother’s matriarchal mantel pass onto her own capable shoulders.
Preparing my friend’s mother for burial was an honor. I could see the ravages of her illness on her tiny body. I also saw the care and love my friend had rendered her mother, over the long and painful course of her disease. As brutal as Alzheimer’s is on one’s mind, it is likewise brutal on one’s body. The years and months of confusion can be debilitating and dangerous on the patient, as well as their family. My friend had taken such loving care of her mother, that the usual physical signs of prolonged dying were absent from her mother’s tiny body.
My friend brought her mother’s clothing to me and along with the beautiful dress that her mother would wear when being laid to rest, was a pair of the loveliest stiletto heels. My friend had taken such meticulous care of her mother, that even her feet were beautifully manicured and in perfect health. My husband lifted my friend’s mother in his arms, and cradled her as he carried her to her casket. When she lay there, I looked at her and thought what a wonderful mother she must have been to have raised such an outstanding daughter. One that would become a healer and care for her in her final days.
Last week was a great week for me. I served a dear friend at the loss of her beloved mother. My reward was being able to witness the best in humanity at the most painful moment in life. The measure of a good friend is not how funny they are, their glamour nor their wealth. It is their ability to inspire us inwardly to improve ourselves. My friend has done that for me this week.
I love my friend. I pray for her recovery, and I give thanks for my privilege in knowing her and serving her.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.