Monday, March 24, 2014

Grief Brief 34 - Telling your Story

Mourners want and need most of all, to talk about their loss. They need to work through what has happened to them. Talking with someone who knows them and will not judge them, allows them to accept that death has happened, to realize that there is a new reality in which they must function, and redirects them to work out their road to recovery.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Kitty

Before I became a funeral director, I had a dear friend who lost her adult son to cancer. I had been out of town working for quite some time, and when I returned to the intermountain west, in the dead of winter, I met with her at a restaurant for hot cocoa. My friend was a highly respected and accomplished woman. She had been the state president of a nationwide political organization and worked for very important men. She was strong and very intelligent. I had worked beside my friend for many years and was very sad to learn that during my absence, she had lost her son.

Once we were seated, we ordered our cocoa and my dear friend began telling me about the death of her son. Her son resided in a coastal state and had returned home to live with his parents, as he passed through the final year of his life. As she began telling me about his journey to death, she would naturally cry. When she came to a particularly difficult moment, she would pause and look at me. I was just crying away without regard to other patrons in the restaurant. During one pause, she reached out and took my hand in hers. After looking deep into my soul, she said something to me.

At the time, I thought it was a very important statement. It struck me deeply, and I pondered it for a long time. As a funeral director, I have often reflected back on this experience with my friend, and I have realized that she shared something profound with me. Throughout my days as a funeral director, I have shared this “Pearl of Wisdom” with many of my clients.

Her enlightening words were these. “Thank you for letting me tell you the story of my son’s death. It seems that each time I tell someone about his death, it erases some of my sadness.”

We sat at the restaurant and cried together as she finished telling the story of her son’s death. I left with tear stained cheeks, and my friend left a little less devastated.
You see, that is what death does. It devastates us. When we experience the death of someone we love, we are devastated. If you learn only one thing from this article, if you cannot bear one more moment of the overwhelming sadness that accompanies significant loss, listen and learn from the profound words of my dear friend.

Tell your story. Share it with everyone who will listen. Telling your story helps take your sadness away. It helps you to realize and accept the death of your loved one. Once you have accomplished this necessary realization, you are free to recover, and you will learn how to live life without your loved one with you.

This is the greatest thing you can do for your grief recovery.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grief Brief 33 - Relief

Family and close friends may feel great relief at the passing of a loved one who suffered a lengthy illness or painful death. Quite often, feelings of guilt accompany their relief. It may be helpful to realize that feeling of relief at the ending of great suffering is born from empathy and compassion. Both selfless human emotions.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Grief Brief 32 - Yearning

Yearning for the deceased is natural, especially among widows. When yearning diminishes, one may conclude that mourning is coming to an end. A common term for this is “closure.”

Although one may accomplish closure, it is important to realize that anniversaries and holidays may continue to be difficult days to experience.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.


Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Hidden Treasure

When I was a young girl, I loved scavenger hunts. At a party, I would receive a list of ordinary things to collect from neighbors homes, along with one or two not so ordinary things. The party host would divide the partygoers into small groups and off we would go on our own little treasure hunt. Once we had collected all of the items; or, at the appointed time if we had not collected every item, we would return to the party home and compare treasures. It was a very fun game filled with thrills of treasure seeking.

As an adult, I have a daughter who loves scavenger hunts of a different nature. She is a teenage Genealogist sleuth. She combs the internet, lists, books, old letters, documents and any other thing she can put her hands on, seeking information on our ancestral lineage. When she finds her treasure, she is filled with excitement and happiness. I have seen her diligently search for one bit of information for years on end, meeting one disappointment after another. She remains ever conscientious though, knowing that if she remains focused and ever hopeful, her search will find success. She has much more faith in the process than I.

When I was an intern for my professional license, I worked at a very old funeral home in Dallas, TX. The building was huge and had those six feet wide columns across the front porch. One day at work, I set about clearing out an old bookcase upon which sat a large collection of lovely leather bound books. I would estimate that there were at least 40 of these books on the shelves. They were very old, and some were showing signs of deterioration. I asked the Funeral Director in Charge (FDIC) what he would have me do with these old, dusty, musty smelling, leather bound books. He said, “Just through them away; I don’t know why we have them.” His remarks startled me, and I have never forgotten them. These old leather bound books dating back to the 1800’s were hand written ledgers, containing the vital statistics and personal impressions of the FDIC on every person this funeral home had buried for over 100 years. Can you imagine coming across such a trove of hidden information?

My mother was a genealogist. Perhaps that is where my daughter inherits such passion for her skill. I remember my mother taking trips to the Deep South to visit old cathedrals in search for lost information in her family lineage. Instead of spending our summers as our friends did, on the coast or at amusement parks, my siblings and I were packed into my mother’s station wagon to visit old relatives and catholic priests all summer. We would return to our home just in time for school to begin. Each day after school, we would sit and work on our studies. My mother would sit at the dining room table with us. She would comb through her newly acquired documents in search for illusive ancestral linkage. She, like my daughter, would revel when she would find her bits of hidden treasure.

While writing this story this morning, I have placed a phone call to the old funeral home in Dallas where I interned. The secretary has not yet arrived at work, so I have left a message for her. I pray those old leather bound books filled with lost treasure have not been destroyed as the FDIC suggested. I hope to rescue them and digitize them so that if there is a genealogist out there searching for a lost member of their family, they might find their treasure through my efforts.

Before becoming a funeral practitioner, I did not know about these books. My mother would have jumped for joy if she had ever come across such a hidden treasure. I hope that if you are searching for lost genealogical records, this information might help you find your lost loved ones.

When I was a young girl, I loved scavenger hunts. Gone are the days that I searched for common items. I am now embarking on a hunt for hidden genealogical treasure, and mortuaries are my oyster.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Saint Patty's Day

In 2009, over one-third of all car accidents that occurred in the US on Saint Patrick’s Day involved alcohol. These accidents resulted in nearly 50 deaths.


When I was an intern for my professional license, it occurred to me that a good number of Americans choose the way they will die. They do this through the various choices, activities or habits they incorporate into their lives. Unfortunately, when these choices have fatel consequences, there are innocent victims who suffer these senseless losses. The fact remains, if you want to avoid injury or potential death, certain holidays tend to be more dangerous than others.


As a funeral practitioner, I have seen deaths caused by any manner of poor judgment and excessive risk. I find, however, more often than not, this type of death involves alcohol over any other faculty altering substance. The pain suffered by the survivors of a loved one, who has senselessly lost his or her life over the holiday weekend, is sad indeed.


During the development of my funeral director persona, I adopted a new habit. When I see someone doing something excessively risky, I walk up to them and offer my business card. As they reach to take it, I ask them to save it in their wallet, as I am sure they will need my services in the near future. If the person is an obvious minor, I ask them to give my card to their parent. It is a shocking experience for the recipient. If they have not previously recognized the danger in which they have put themselves, they generally do at this point. My goal is to help save lives. If my actions help save even one life, it is worth the interesting reactions and comments I receive.


With Saint Patrick’s Day upon us, I plead with you to take the necessary precautions to avoid being that guy or gal in your state, that becomes the St. Patty’s Day statistic. If you are going out with a group of friends and know you will be drinking, please designate a sober driver or utilize the designated driver program, www.drinkinganddriving.org/designated-driver-services/. Another option is to call a taxi and retrieve your vehicle once the effects of alcohol have subsided. If your party is at a hotel or within walking distance of a hotel, perhaps you and your party friends could arrange for overnight accommodations at the hotel. The following morning you might enjoy breakfast together before returning to your individual homes. If all else fails, call mom and dad. As a parent of adult children, I would be more than happy to rescue them from themselves, should the need ever arise. One last suggestion, just stay home.


Remember, just because the holiday is dangerous, does not mean that you must live dangerously. There are simple precautions you can take to ensure that your holiday is a little safer than it was last year. As a funeral director/embalmer, I assure you, I would prefer seeing you on my table when you are 91 rather than 19.

Enjoy your holiday.


My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.


Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Grief Brief 30 - Feelings of Emancipation

In a situation of abuse or neglect, feelings of emancipation are often a welcome relief. If you witness an emancipatory type behavior in the recently bereaved, realize that it is likely the result of liberty from horrific experiences. This person may need great understanding and gentle reconstruction of their self-esteem, self-value and self worth. Juvenile behaviors may be underlying and professional guidance and/or intervention might be helpful.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Grief Brief 31 - Shock

Shock is generally experienced whenever death occurs. Even if your loved one suffered a life ending illness, the exact moment of death remains unpredictable. Therefore, the notice that death has occurred, may for a brief moment, be shocking. Shock occurs most often and is lingering, in the case of sudden or unexpected death.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer. I write books, weekly articles and brief tips on understanding and coping with grief. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.


Please follow my blog at http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/, follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Miscarriage Recovery

Generally, when a mother has miscarried, the first and immediate concern is her health. It is only later that others begin to realize that a life has been lost. The mother and father have immediate concern for future pregnancies, as well. Their grief may be postponed, relying on the possibility of a future pregnancy. If this is not the first born, the parents have the additional painful experience of helping their other children grieve the loss of their miscarried sibling.

Self-blame is another major issue for the parents of a miscarried pregnancy. The mother may blame herself for some activity, or her husband for his absence in protecting the integrity of the pregnancy. Generally, the father feels powerless through this tragedy. His confusion and helplessness may be misinterpreted by those around him as aloofness. While it is true that both mother and father grieve the loss of an unborn child, the longer the pregnancy, the more intense the grief, especially for the father.

Miscarriages involve the loss of a child’s life. It is, therefore, paramount that parents experience and successfully accomplish grief work. Established rituals in our society to help parents experiencing the loss of an unborn child are virtually non-existent. There are, however, things one can do to help the grieving couple through their tragedy.

Naming the baby is of great value. A name gives the baby a tangible spot in the line of births within this family. It recognizes that there is another member of the family and reserves the sanctity for the child to be remembered and loved.

A memorial service offers an event for commemoration and solidifies the reality of the loss. This realism offers an opportunity for the parents and others to begin the grieving process. It marks a day for tradition, and gives dignity to the child that once existed within the mother’s womb and in the family’s wished-for future.

Planting a tree in the child’s honor also helps with the healing process. As the years progress, the tree will grow. The parallel symbolism helps the parents and any siblings of the child cope with the passing years.

Some families find a journal helps with grief. A journal for all members of the family to write special moments and wishes for the miscarried child, helps to solidify the structure of the family, and the child’s place within the family.

Some parents choose to bury their child. Burying the child gives the family a place to visit and includes the child as a legitimate member of their family. This is especially helpful to younger children. It helps them to understand that their sibling had value, that he or she was loved, and gives them confidence that they are loved and valued, as well.

The miscarriage of a child is tragic. However, with the love of family and friends, grief recovery is possible for the devastated mother, father and siblings if any.