Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Too Few

I rose from my bed early this morning, suffering from a night of poor rest, due to uncomfortable rumblings in my tummy. I went to my recliner. Not wishing to disturb my husband’s sleep with the noise of the television, I grabbed my iPad and began searching the internet.
It is interesting how early morning reflections take your mind to places you do not expect. This morning, my mind wandered as my fingers typed, and I found myself at a friend’s blog. His last entry was November 11, 2012. He died just 30 days later, December 11, 2013. I read his writings, and as I did, I began to miss my friend, profoundly. Preston was such an honest person; his whole life was transparent and literally an open book. He was a writer, and I find evidence of his incredible talent all over the internet. His blog is filled with his personal thoughts and experiences, and reading it brought stinging tears to my eyes and a deep ache to my heart.
I miss my friend so deeply, and I wish I had known he was going to die prematurely. The truth of life, however, is that we do not know when our loved ones will die. We simply live our lives until we, or they, are gone. The secret of life is living it as though every moment might be your last. Do not waste your time counting moments and accomplishments. Make your moments count by molding this world into something better for those whom you leave behind. That is how my friend Preston lived his life.
Preston was a Gulf War Veteran, newspaper editor, novelist, Wikipedia contributor, and literary mentor. He was kind, respectful and honest, but most of all, Preston was a friend that inspired others to achieve better than their best. He was bold and would fight the good fight for those who were weaker than he, and he did it because it was the right thing to do, rather than for personal gain.
Through the years, as Preston called and visited, I would tell him of my admiration, my appreciation and my love for him. Now that he is gone, I long for one more conversation. I yearn to be able to say, “Preston, I cherish the blessing that brought you into my life.”
The world has too few Prestons.
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 atwww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grief Brief 60 - Forgetful

During bereavement, one may find that they are more forgetful than usual.  This is caused by the preoccupation of grief.  Lost car keys, misplaced purses, forgotten appointments etc., are normal occurrences during this time.  It is a good practice to begin writing things down on a list.  Realizing your memory is suffering the ill effects of stress brought on by grief, you may find that you cannot remember if you have completed each task successfully.  It is therefore recommended, that you check tasks off as they are accomplished.

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, September 22, 2014

Charity

Charity:  benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
It seems as though I helped this particular family about two years ago, but in reality, it was only nine months. I received a call during a severe thunderstorm that a friend had died. My husband and I jumped into our older hearse because the weather was questionable.  We had concerns about trees uprooting in the strong winds and thought our newer hearse should stay in the garage for safekeeping. As we turned eastward out of our driveway, we could see the stop sign twisting back and forth, just as it does in the movies when a twister is touching down. As we turned onto the highway going out of town, we saw flashing lights and noticed there was a large pine tree stretching clear across the road, blocking our way. 
In true military fashion, my husband refused to let a 60 foot tree across the highway stop his mission, so we drove straight over the top of it and waved hello to the police officers as they shook their heads in disbelief. As we continued down the highway, I could see bits of trees flying in front of me, and it reminded me of the many “Storm Chaser” episodes I have watched with my children. Before we reached our destination, we passed over three very old and very large trees across the highway, and had to avoid downed power lines as well.
We arrived in safety, even though we were a little bit shaky from the experience. The storm was a strong one, and it was truly frightening. We pulled under the decedent's balcony to try to shield the back end of the hearse from the storm.
We went upstairs into the largest apartment I had ever seen, filled with the biggest and friendliest family I have ever met. They were all there, sisters, aunts, uncles, children, parents and neighbors. I have written other articles about this family because they are amazingly special. I think of all of the people I have met over the years, the parents of this family are the most charitable. They are the type of people you think about and aspire to emulate, and that transcends down through their posterity.
The decedent's sisters greeted me one by one, giving me hugs and encouragement. The men of the family helped my husband move the decedent from her bed onto our gurney, and then they helped carry her down to the ground floor where our hearse awaited.
As the storm was finally passing over, a few of her other sisters arrived, and I was glad to see them. We decided to meet the following morning to finalize the details of her service.
In the days and events that followed the death of this special woman, I was reminded of the charity this family possesses. Throughout my experiences with them, I have never witnessed a harsh word or frowny face pass between any of them. This tolerance is an amazing feat because this family so large and when someone has died, it becomes particularly difficult to be gracious around so many emotionally charged personalities and opinions.
I asked them how they did it. How did they keep so many people thrown together under the stress of death from having moments of malice and discontent? They shared their secret with me. It was so simple; I do not know why other families have not thought of it as well. Their secret is so valuable that I asked if I could share it, and they said yes.
They told me that their family was no different from any other. They have little squabbles and disagreements amongst themselves. They are unique however, in that, there is one thing they do that I have never seen before, they designate a “Watcher” among themselves.
When tragedy first strikes, they all agree to treat each other with tolerance, to judge in a favorable attitude the actions of one another, and to practice impartial love in each situation that might call for such virtue. This agreement is remarkable.
Secondly, if emotions surface at any event, the “Watcher” comes over and escorts anyone he deems to be near compromising these terms of cooperation off the property, no questions asked. Once they collect themselves, they are free to return, but they have to be able to rededicate themselves to their familial agreement. By the way, this is a blended family, so one expects temper flares at large gatherings.
My friend’s service was beautiful and she was laid to rest with peace and tranquility beside other family members that we have buried in the past. Her services were undisturbed by any poor behavior and were filled with cooperation and love from among her family members. I was overcome with love and respect for them, and they renewed my faith in charity.
If you are called upon to attend services, remember this family and their charity toward each other. If you have ill feelings for someone at a funeral service, hold them back and understand that this is not the proper time or place to express them. Exercise charity and your heart and well-being will grow.
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 59 - Decreased Functionality

A grief stricken person is unable to function at their usual 100% capability.  It is therefore wise to postpone major decisions at this time.  Selling a home, moving to another city, changing jobs or professions are all better put off to some later date if possible.

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, September 15, 2014

Strengthening

We must get back to caring for one another, for our neighbors, and most importantly for our families.  The family is the nucleus of society.  One witnesses the truth of this statement most profoundly displayed at the death of a loved one.  Without strong families, we are vulnerable and weak.  We are subject to personal and societal attack.  This weakness begins as a small wound and proliferates into a cancer.

As I see clients pass through my funeral home, some with large families, yet very little attendance at their services, my fears and concerns for that particular family increase.  Without strong family associations, children have no sense of belonging.  An absence of belonging creates weakness and a loss of one’s attachment, not only to their families, but also to human beings and society in general.  Without attachment, people can become self-centered, insecure, greedy, weak and evil. 

Attachment is a basic human emotion.  In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, he lists attachment theory as Belongingness and Love.  It is this basic need for family, affection, relationships, work groups, etc., which separates us as human beings rather than mere animals.  Without this attachment, human beings are unable to civilly function, and their society fails.  I see it happening each time I have a client with low or no attendance at their services.  I see it happening among our youth.  Do not allow this sorrowful weakness to become your family’s Achilles’ heel.  Actively engage in strengthening your families, reunite with your loved ones, create memories and attachments to each other; in so doing, you will strengthen your fortitude and will be less likely to suffer the destruction of your family’s ability to band together in times of crisis. 

Loss of life is painful only to those who love one another.  Love is a strong and powerful emotion.  Without it, we are weak and powerless.  A man does not go into to battle because he has strong muscles.  He goes into battle because his heart creates overwhelming passion that engages his unrelenting will to fight for principle and love.  A meek and gentle woman remains so only until someone attacks her child.  She then becomes the attacker’s worst nightmare.  She springs forth into uncontrollable fighting passion and will not give up until the threat to her child has been neutralized.  It is love that motivates both sexes into action.  To be strong and powerful, we must have love in our hearts.  To have love in our hearts, we must have attachments.   It is time to engage our emotions and understand that without them; we are lost already.

The byproduct of love is compassion.  Compassion is a virtue.  Compassion creates an uncontrollable motivation for the defense of those whom we love.  It creates and fulfills the basic needs of survival as described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Without love, one is weak and powerless, but with love, one is strong and powerful.  It is time to reengage with your loved ones.  In so doing, you will benefit and so will society as a whole.  Care for them in their joys and triumphs and in their sorrows and sufferings.   

One may see plainly the failings of society at a funeral.  I see them daily.  Please save yourself from failure.  Re-familiarize yourself with family members and develop deep attachments to them.  Become a strong family unit and the rest of your life will find better order and greater satisfaction.  In short, you will be happier and stronger as your attachments and love develop toward your family and those around you. 

Loss of life is painful only to those who love one another.  Is it not better to grieve the passing of someone you love, than never to have loved at all?

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, September 8, 2014

Grief Brief 58 - Special Days

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and especially the yearly loss anniversary, are extremely stressful for survivors of loss.  The anticipation of these important dates may sometimes be worse the day itself.  

If you are a survivor, it may be a good idea to let close friends know that you might need extra understanding and support on these days. 

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 57 - Frequent Ailments

Many bereaved individuals experience more frequent occurrences of ailments.  Common complaints are additional colds, lingering flu, headaches, stomach upset, back and neck pain, indigestion, insomnia and flare-ups of pre-existing conditions.  This is normal during the phases of grief.  It is recommended that survivors notify their physician if these ailments become intolerable. 

 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.

Mourning September 11th

Sadly, we face another 9-11 anniversary this week.  Has it really been 13 years since America was attacked?  To me it seems as though it were last week.  That day, September 11th, will forever be imprinted into my brain.  I can remember exactly what I was doing at the very instant the breaking news flash appeared on my television screen.  It was a horrific loss, frozen in time.

This past week, my husband and I, were at our dentist’s office for our yearly check-ups.  We needed additional appointments, so the receptionist proceeded to engage us into booking the necessary follow-up visits.  As I finished booking my follow-up, she turned her attention to my husband.  As I walked out into the lobby, I heard her suggest September 11th as the day he should return.  My husband hesitated for a moment, and then called out to me, asking if that would be a satisfactory date.

I, as my husband, was taken aback.  Although both the dentist and her receptionist are young adults, I know they are both old enough to have witnessed September 11th.  I found my voice quickly and gave a definitive “No that will not do.  We will observe and mourn the loss of innocent life suffered on that tragic day.  September 11th will not be a routine day for us.  It never will be ever again.”

As we left the dental office, I was lost in thought.  I saw the expression on the receptionist’s face when she realized that I was offended down to my core at her suggestion.  I was disturbed that many in our nation look at September 11th as just another day.  I felt sorrow in my heart for the families that lost so much on that horrific and dreadful day. 

When a loved one has been lost, grief is a powerful emotion to overcome.  When a loved one has been viciously lost, grief is complicated and can become almost impossible to overcome.  I do not think 13 years is too long to ask a nation to remember a tragic attack on its citizens.  I do not think 313 years is too long to ask a nation to remember a tragic attack on its citizens.  Forgetting this tragedy invites it to happen again.

Remember 9-11.  Remember the tragedy so many suffered with the loss of their loved ones.  Reengage with your family and express your love and commitment for each other.  Doing so will improve the quality of your life and your happiness.  Remember, none of us knows the day of our death and one day, someone we love will be gone.  Make your moments count be creating memories and strengthening your bonds together.  Do it because one day, may just be too late.

My condolences to the families of 9-11.  My condolences to our nation for our loss of innocent lives, on that dreadful day, and for all of those that have followed in its wake.

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.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Funding an Unfunded Funeral

Unfortunately as a funeral director, I often see families who have lost a loved one without the necessary funds to provide for his or her final expenses. The problem is that there is a dead body and something must be done within a short period of time, to properly accomplish final disposition with kindness, dignity and respect.
What are survivors finding themselves in this very undesirable situation supposed to do for funds? If the funeral home accepts credit cards, the survivor can utilize his or her pre-established credit and then make the necessary payments to the credit card carrier. For some reason, I find that survivors do not like this option. It is possible that most of them think the interest is too high, or they do not carry enough space on their credit cards to be able to afford such a substantial expense.
The funeral funds, however, must be provided before services can be rendered. If the next of kin is unable to raise the necessary funds through his or her own credit, they may choose to ask additional family members and friends to contribute. This can be embarrassing and many survivors do not care for this option either.
Some families are under the misconception that if they refuse or cannot provide the necessary funds, the government will cover their loved one’s funeral expenses. While it may be true that some counties have funds for paupers, these funds are reserved for indigents. If a decedent has family members or relatives, he or she does not qualify for the funds. Loved ones are not considered paupers, they are considered family members and as such, they have family that will be called upon to carry their financial burdens.
Unfortunately, funds that must be quickly obtained usually end up carrying extremely high fees. Whoever loves the decedent enough to step up to his or her deserted plate, usually ends up paying a far greater price and burden than the decedent would have if he or she had just taken care of this issue before his or her inevitable death.
The easiest and most cost effective way to provide funds for one’s funeral expenses is called pre-need insurance, and it is purchased prior to one's death. Paying for a decedent's funeral after his or her death is called an expensive burden. If you are setting your loved ones up for this very unfair situation, they will be suffering the burden of your debt for a very long and laborious time.
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 atwww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Grief Brief 56 - Stressful Impact

Grief is stressful. Stress has a negative impact on ones immune system. When suffering the loss of a loved one, it is a good idea to notify your primary care physician, if you have existing physical, psychological or emotional conditions.
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 atwww.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.