Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Blog Address

For additional blog posts, please go to

http://www.mourningcoffee.com/pushing-up-daisies-blog

Thank you.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

At Rest

As I sat with my client pre-arranging her mother’s funeral services, she became emotionally distressed.  She apologized for wanting to accomplish her mother’s funeral swiftly, upon her death.  She felt ashamed and wondered if others would see her as insensitive or ungrateful.  She thought others might think she was treating her mother without respect or that she had not appreciated her mother’s love and sacrifices.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.  The desire to quickly accomplish final disposition is neither an act of selfishness nor a lack of love and appreciation.  The desire to quickly accomplish final disposition may be an act of love.

This daughter desires to quickly accomplish final disposition because she has witnessed her mother suffer through a long and painful illness.  The ravages on her mother's life and body have been so physically painful and emotionally stressful, that her daughter cannot bear the suffering one more moment.  The only scenario to render relief to her mother is death.  The only scenario to render relief to her daughter is final disposition.  The relief the daughter will experience is known as closure.  Because the pain of witnessing her mother’s suffering is so severe, she cannot rest or feel relief until her mother’s burial is accomplished.

At that moment, the moment of final disposition, both mother and daughter will be at rest.  One will be laid to rest, and one will live at rest. 
   
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.  I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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.  For information on booking speeches, go to  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Surprise Gifts

As I sat in the sanctuary, listening to the pastor, my soul was touched by his sermon. The widow has been an acquaintance of mine for several years and is now my friend. I knew her husband was ill and would soon pass away. That day happened this past week. Today was his funeral.
The decedent’s family is a blended family. Blended families can be challenging for a funeral director. There are often underlying issues and aggressions that can erupt at inopportune moments. This family, although blended, held no surprises. They were kind and gentle to each other, and my heart was overjoyed at the precious memories they would carry with them, from this day forward. Their pastor’s words reflected their behavior and impressed upon the congregation, hope for their future.
His inspirational words advised all families to build memories together at every moment possible. Memories outlive us and sustain our families once our death has occurred. Good memories help families recover from loss and give them strength when they would rather give up. They nurture our loved ones, and in our absence, help them battle and overcome their weaknesses.
As I observed this family today, I saw the excellent men their father had raised. They were respectful and loving to their stepmother. They had compassion for her above their own sorrows. Their memories of their father will forever sustain them through their trials in life, and the firm foundation, which he built for them, will forever keep them honorable.
As today's services came to an end, I wondered would someone in the blended family waylay the final moments of the service with an underlying issue. Instead, I witnessed the love and respect these two exceptional men held for their stepmother. They revered and appreciated her love for their father.
As the final hymn filled the sanctuary with worship, the widow rose to her feet. She reached toward heaven and with trembling hands, pleaded with God to accept her husband into his presence. As I witnessed the raw emotion of a recent widow, my eyes filled with tears for her pain. Moreover, I pondered her depth of love for her departed husband. He had blessed her with a life of love and companionship, and he had raised choice sons to love and protect her until the blessed day of their reunion in heaven. These two fine men, raised so well by their beloved father, unknowingly elevated the bar of honor, behavior, cooperation, and respect.
At the end of the day I realized, the decedent and his family had given me a number of surprise gifts after all: a joyful heart, the experience of seeing exceptional men behave exceptionally, and an absence of unwelcome eruptions at inopportune moments.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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. For information on booking speeches, go to www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Good Samaritan

As a funeral director, I see firsthand the willingness and abilities of families to come together and assist each other in times of crisis. Occasionally, however, one's family is unable to provide for unexpected needs when tragedy strikes. In such circumstances, one may find that complete strangers come to their rescue, as good Samaritans of old.

I recently served a family that suffered a tragic loss. Although the father of this family is a strong, hardworking man, the industry in which he works, is one that pays very low wages. His family is large, consisting of several young and teenaged children. Under such circumstances, his meager income must stretch to meet the needs of many. His wife continually struggles against the rising costs of food and shelter. Her opportunity to work is restricted, as her time and efforts are eaten away with developing innovative methods to economize and ensure the survival of her family.

Tragically, the eldest son in this family passed away in an accident late one evening. As his grief-stricken father and mother planned his end of life services, they promised that even though they did not have the funds to pay for their needs, they would somehow get them.  As I helped his parents through their choices, the physical stature of his strong father paled under the severity of mournful grief, his mother could scarcely draw breath.  My soul mourned for them.

As they left the funeral home to somehow scrape together the necessary funds and prepare for the services that would follow within the next few days, a vehicle entered my driveway.  A gray-haired woman, wearing very dark glasses came to my door and asked to see the funeral director in charge of this family's services.  I invited her into my office and asked what I might do to assist her.  She reached into her purse and pulled out her checkbook.  She looked me square in the eyes and asked for the total sum owed for this family's services.  She wrote her check for the appropriate amount, informed me that she wished to remain anonymous, stood up and without another word, walked out.

Although I did not see this woman at the services for this young man, I have since seen her in town shopping for groceries and at various activities.  Although our gazes have met, she has never let on to those around her that she has ever met or spoken to me.  As she requested, her identity remains anonymous.

As a funeral director, I see firsthand the willingness and abilities of families to come together and assist each other in times of crisis. Occasionally, however, one's family is unable to provide for unexpected needs when tragedy strikes. In such circumstances, one may find that complete strangers come to their rescue.  This gray-haired woman, wearing very dark glasses, who anonymously paid the funeral bill for this tragically stricken family, lives the supernal example of the Good Samaritan of old.  How wonderful it would be, if more of us patterned our lives, as has she.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.  I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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.  For information on booking speeches, go to  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Affordable Green Burial Option

I worked with a family this week, which I have worked with before.  This family is one of humble means, and the decedent lived quite some distance from my funeral home.  Upon notification of my client’s death, my husband and I immediately began our journey to accept her into our protective custody and bring her back to the area of her birth for burial.  In life, when funds are tight, monies are spent on survival.  We must often push to the side, things that we know are inevitable yet not impending, in order to afford the bare necessities of life.  This was the situation this dear family found themselves faced with this past week.

As I arrived at my client’s home, her daughter ran out and embraced me, thanking me for coming in her time of need.  She tightly held on to me, sobbing over the loss of her beloved mother, expressing gratitude for the kindness she so desperately needed this horrific night.  The loss of her mother was devastating, and she needed someone to understand her pain, her fear and her desperate situation.

My client’s survivors decided on a partial service known as an immediate burial.  An immediate burial is a viable alternative for traditional funeral services when funds are not readily available, and there is opposition to cremation.  In most cases, immediate burial does not require embalming, it therefore offers a satisfactory alternative to survivors seeking as little environmental impact as possible.  Generally, an immediate burial must occur within twenty-four hours of death.  If the survivors have chosen a cemetery that does not require a vault for burial, an earth friendly encasement may be chosen as well.

If you find yourself in need of a more affordable burial alternative and would rather an immediate burial in place of a traditional funeral, you will need to discuss it with your funeral director.  It is also a kind gesture to discuss it with your survivors before your death.  The abrupt schedule of events and the absence of services may impose a more complicated grief recovery upon certain survivors.

Keep in mind that funerals are for the living, not the deceased.  An immediate burial does not offer consideration to family and friends and is accomplished at the convenience of the funeral home.  If your family stands in need of a more traditional funeral service but finds itself unable to acquire the appropriate funding, a graveside service may be a better alternative.

My client's daughter understood the gravity of her mother's financial situation this week and was happy to find an appropriate and affordable burial option.  Although immediate burial lacks consideration for the decedent's family, we paused a moment while her son offered a word of prayer on her behalf.  My client was a good mother and her children deeply loved her.  It is my prayer that their moment of prayer will offer them the solace needed to avoid a complicated grief recovery.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.  I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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.  For information on booking speeches, go to  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Grief Brief 62 - Difficulties Concentrating

During bereavement, concentrating and retaining information becomes difficult.  This is caused by a preoccupation of loss.  Reading and other tasks requiring concentration, may take longer than usual.  Mistakes and errors may also become more prevalent.  As time passes, mistakes lessen and the ability to concentrate and retain information returns. 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.  I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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.  For information on booking speeches, go to  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Final Farewell

I often write about saying good-bye before a loved one dies, and this week I followed my advice. I have a great aunt who is 100 years old, and although I visit her fairly often, she will be moving some distance away this week, and so that opportunity will soon no longer be possible.
When I entered her room, she was dozing, so I gently called her by name until she woke up. I bent forward to hug her and could see a touch of confusion in her expression. She told me she wondered who I was. As soon as I told her my name, I could see her joy, and we enjoyed a long visit.
While she spoke of days passed, she recounted great love for my beloved grandmother (her sister), my gracious great-grandmother (her mother), my cousins, my father and numerous other relatives. She spoke of the Great Depression, and the anguish suffered by our family during the trials of their survival.
As I left the nursing home, I passed through the town where my father lives. I decided to take a moment and visit with him as well. He was outside planting his garden, and we sat under the shade of 100-year-old pine trees. He recounted great love for my beloved grandmother (his mother), my gracious great-grandmother (his grandmother), my cousins and numerous other relatives. He spoke of the importance of being self-reliant, the Great Depression, and the trials and anguish suffered by our ancestors through their poverty so that we could one day enjoy the harvest of their sacrifices. It occurred to me, more profoundly than it ever had before, that many wonderful people have suffered great hardship, that I might see a better day.
As I spent a meaningful afternoon of communion with those whom I love, my heart was filled with gratitude for loved ones who have already left this life and hope for those of us who remain. While lying in my bed this morning, my mind drifted in and out of sleep.  My soul found peace as I dreamt of a future grand reunion; my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my great aunt and my father holding hands together, with the light of Christ surrounding them.
My great aunt is near the end of her experience on earth; my dad will one day be there too. After today, however, although their loss will be unbearable, I know that I will feel a modicum of peace, as I took the time to visit them before their days were over.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com. follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement. For information on booking speeches, go to www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com

Monday, April 27, 2015

Suicide Evokes Ripple Effect

As I was paying for my purchases at a warehouse market, I noticed some friends waving to me from over in the deli. I walked over to them and engaged in catch-up conversation. It was so good to see them. She had endured shoulder surgery and spinal injections over this past year, and her husband had lovingly nursed her back to health. They shared stories of their family, and I was sad to hear that they had lost their son-in-law. It is always distressing when a young person dies, and I could hear in their voices that they were heartbroken.

Their daughter and grandchildren, who live some distance away, have suffered great financial and emotional hardships from their loss. Their eldest grandchild has had to postpone her wedding due to the loss of income in their family. Her younger sister has suffered severe depression so much so that she finds it difficult to exit her bed and thus, has dropped out of school. The child I worry most over, however, is their grandson. He is the youngest of their three grandchildren, and additional circumstances have put him into an extremely dangerous and risky category.

When their son-in-law died, the father of their grandson’s best friend also died. Unlike their son-in-law, who died of natural causes, this man committed suicide. Suicide is tragic for everyone who knows the victim, and it puts extreme emotional trauma on the immediate survivors. This trauma is so devastating that if not properly managed, it places other family members at risk of committing the same fate. 

My friend’s grandson and his best friend have been inseparable this past year, each relying on the other for emotional support to make it through the trials of their father’s respective deaths. Unfortunately, their grandson’s best friend fell prey to his father’s suicide, and last week killed himself.

This second suicide is beyond tragic and creates a very dangerous situation for his immediate survivors as well as for his best friend. Due to the unique situation of both boys losing their father’s simultaneously while relying upon each other for support during their grief recovery, the suicide of this young boy puts my friend’s grandson in a uniquely prone situation of committing suicide himself. 

After a lengthy conversation with my friends, I suggested they consider professional counseling for their daughter and grandchildren. As it is apparent that she would benefit from their assistance, I also suggested that they leave the warehouse and immediately drive to their daughter's home. Their grandchildren are left to themselves all day while their mother is away trying to replace her husband’s income, and it is highly probable that their grandson should be under suicidal watch.

According to my friends, their daughter and her children delayed their grief experience through extended denial and now find themselves in an extremely complicated grief experience. Their eldest granddaughter will probably recover with light intervention. She has suffered personal tragedy before, and she can draw upon the guidance of her professional counseling through her previous experience. She also has her fiancé and wedding plans to occupy her mind, as she has been fortunate enough to receive a generous gift of financial support to accomplish her wedding from a benevolent soul. Their granddaughter, who dropped out of school, is being placed in a particular program where she will be allowed to self-pace her studies, and will receive grief counseling support through this program’s guidance system. The grandson, however, has just been knocked down to a completely new level of pain and anguish, and it is imperative that he not only receive familial support, but immediate professional intervention. 

One should never take the possible risk of suicide lightly. If you know someone who might be at risk of suicide, do not take this responsibility upon yourself. A suicidal person needs immediate professional intervention.

GRIEF FACT 146

SUICIDAL MELANCHOLY

If one ever feels overly sad, considers harming, or killing oneself, immediately call 911 and ask for help.

Do not assume that these thoughts are fleeting or of little concern.

Grief exacerbates melancholy and abruptly overcomes one’s ability to recover and survive.

(Tracy Renee Lee, Mourning Glory II)

I hope my friends are away this week with their daughter and grandchildren. I know that if they were to fall short of preventing further trauma and loss in their daughter’s family, they would not be able to endure it. 

The curse of suicide is that it often evokes a ripple effect upon the survivors.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Please follow my blog at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com. follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com

Monday, April 20, 2015

Handmade Quilt

Today I visited with a dear friend, her mother lies in state in the next room. As we visited, we talked about her wonderful mother and her childhood memories. Her mother was the most amazing woman she has ever known. Her love for her was evident and remains ever strong.
Yesterday, I went to her mother’s house to bring her to the funeral home. I have been there before. As I arrived, I saw my friend and her five sisters. My heart was broken for each of them, and I hugged each one as I entered their home. When I hugged my friend, I apologized for being there. She said the kindest and dearest thing to me. In the midst of losing her mother, she offered her broken hearted funeral director heartfelt words of comfort.
I buried her father and her brother in years past, and to see her mother go was heart-wrenching for me. My friend whispered in my ear not to be sorry for being there, that it was a blessing for her to have a friend there in her time of need. My friend will never know how tender her words were to my soul.
As my husband and I prepared my friend’s mother for transport, I noticed the most beautiful quilt on her bed. The beautiful quilt, I learned, was handmade out of love by her darling daughter. Tomorrow as we lay her mother to rest, her casket will be draped with her beautiful handmade quilt. The quilt that brought her such warmth and comfort in life will bring warmth and comfort to those in attendance.
I am grateful for a dear friend who knew just what to say when I felt awkward, and thankful for the warmth and comfort her blanket of words brought into my soul. I hope that I can return the favor on the bleakest day of her life, the day she will say goodbye, one last time, to her beloved mother.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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. For information on booking speeches, go to www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Homemade Soap

Isn’t it funny, how a simple moment can bring forward in one’s mind, sweet memories of a departed loved one?
This morning as I prepared for my shower, I realized for the third day in a row, that my soap bar was now a mere sliver and completely incapable of fulfilling its purpose of providing me with ample lather to clean and refresh my body for the day's events. Fortunately, I had not yet stepped into my shower, so I walked over to my lavatory and being unable to bend due to back issues, I reached into the cabinet beneath it, blindly searching for a fresh bar of soap. As I grabbed hold of the soap, neatly wrapped in lightly colored paper, my mind reflected back to a friend of mine, who each Christmas would send me a year supply of his homemade soap.
Preston’s soap was never neatly wrapped in lightly colored paper, nor was it perfectly formed into smooth ergonomic shapes. His soap was made from the finest ingredients, engineered for sensitive skin and cut into simple squares. Preston shared his wonderful soap with those he loved and cared for most in the world.
My friend Preston was so dear to me. His love of Christ and his redeeming mission was so strong. From the first time I met Preston, he always sought to share his testimony with those who were searching for meaning in life.
As I rose and prepared for my shower this morning, Preston was not on my mind. Blindly reaching under the lavatory for a bar of soap, made me miss him so deeply. I was touched by the imagery of blindly searching for soap, to those who labor in search of their purpose.
GRIEF FACT 149
YANKED
Grief is all-consuming, it is no respecter of persons or time. You may have several weeks of great recovery and suddenly find yourself in the pitfalls of despair. This is a normal response.
Eventually, despair and loneliness will be replaced with kind and fond memories. Even so, you will be yanked back from time to time by the least little insignificant thing.
(Tracy Renee Lee, Mourning Glory II)

I smiled as I cried, remembering Preston’s kind spirit and his willingness to share it with everyone he knew. I thought to myself, how appropriate it was, that this Easter morning, an insignificant sliver of soap, yanked my memories back to Preston and his willingness to share his testimony of Christ and his redeeming mission.
This morning I miss my dear friend, I miss his wonderful soap that he so thoughtfully sent me every year, and I miss his amazing testimony of Christ. This Easter morning as I prepared for my shower, I realized my day would be filled with thanksgiving for Christ's redeeming sacrifice, along with fond memories of my dear friend's willingness to share his Savior's message.  
My day was bittersweet.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author, and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
Please follow my blog at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com. follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Risky Business

As a funeral director, I often point out to people, when they are taking undue risk with their lives. Generally, I will walk up to them and hand them my business card. I will ask them to put my card in their purse or wallet, as I am sure they will need my services in their very near future. Until this week, however, I had never thought about what I would do if I, or a member of my family, were ever involved in such risky business?

Last week, my husband was involved in an incident that had the potential to be fatal. The news of the incident came by phone. I don’t mind telling you, although I was assured that he was without injury; the fact that the incident had occurred was devastating. My knees went weak, my breathing became uncontrollable, and I had difficulties processing the information. I was as nervous as a cat, until he was back home, healthy and beside me.


Of course, such a serious incident is cause for reflection. Was the activity he was involved in, so important that he should continue his participation? Does this activity bring such joy that the risk factors make it worthwhile? Is the vast investment into this activity reason enough to continue with it, or might we be able to reclaim our money without too great a loss? Would my husband be willing to forgo this activity, or would it break his spirit to give it up?


Although these questions are reasonable, they do not address the emotions that plagued me after receiving the news that my husband had been fairly close to a situation that could have potentially caused his death. I have battled with myself all week over it. My husband has participated in this activity for nearly half of his life, and although this has not been the first incident to cause alarm, it has been the most serious. This past week he finally achieved his long time goal of acquiring his dream equipment. I was so happy for him, happy for us actually. Meeting a twenty-five year goal is reason to celebrate; potentially losing your husband is not.


My husband is a reasonable and extremely cautious man, so his activities in this sport have never caused me great concern. Last week, however, has changed that for me. My concern is now high on the rector scale, and so I must determine, is it just because he came so close to meeting death straight in the face, or is it time to reevaluate our participation in what we love so much.


Fortunately, my husband has taken care of the situation. Before he was home, he announced he would be selling his dream. You see, the activity in which we participate is uncommonly safe, and our participation in it is recreational. The new piece of equipment, however, is designed for sport rather than recreation and there in lies the issue. Even though this sweet piece of equipment was a lifelong dream, my husband realized immediately that it was not designed for our needs. He therefore promptly decided to sell it and get something a little more conservative.


Statistically, participation in this activity is safer than driving a car, the situation, however, runs in close comparison to that of speed racing. When a teenager first gets his driver’s license, a fast, slick racing car may be his dream. Notwithstanding, granny’s old Buick may be the safer choice for him. Thankfully, my husband understands the difference between a fun and recreational activity from that of taking a great risk and thrill seeking. A parent would not deny their child the skill and indeed the necessity of driving, due to fear of a deadly automobile accident. A prudent parent, however, might limit the vehicle in which their child drives to one that is safer and does not encourage drag racing at the speedway.


And so, my husband has made the heartbreaking realization that his long desired goal was not as he had anticipated for all of these years. On his own, and without encouragement from his wife, he logically and rationally determined, as is his nature, that discretion is the better part of valor.


I thank God for giving me such a courageous and honorable man to marry and with whom to grow old. I count my blessings in my daily prayers for his goodness and fortitude in serving me, our children, and his country so honorably.


I gave great thought this last week to how devastating and pathetic my life would be without my husband by my side. The bleakness of my reflections has given me new insights into the inward hopelessness, expressed by many widows who pass through my funeral home, upon the loss of their lifelong and eternal love. I don’t know, maybe my Savior thought I just needed to understand more intently the devastation the loss of one’s husband brings into one’s life.


At any rate, I give thanks my husband suffered a small scrape on one of his knuckles rather than the loss of his life. Likewise, thanks that we have been blessed to continue our journey together through this life as husband and wife, until some future, and I hope, far off date. He is my life, my eternal companion, and my one true love. Eternity holds no value for me without him forever by my side.


My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Great Mom


Last week, as many funeral directors do, I had back surgery. This week, my dear friend called to notify me that her beloved mother-in-law had passed away. As I prepared the hearse, one of my colleagues suggested that I not go to the nursing home where my dear friend sat, watching over her beloved mother-in-law, awaiting my arrival. Although it was never a consideration, I was so thankful I did not follow my colleague’s advice. As soon as I rounded the corner, I knew why I had been motivated to go myself. My dear friend needed me.
She was at her mother-in-law’s side, as she had been for the last few years, hesitant to leave her even though she was already gone. My friend has forever been faithful and loving in her respect for the woman who lay still on the bed beside her.
As I stood there with her, I was so impressed with the tender care in which she said good-bye to the mother of her husband. She thanked her for raising such a wonderfully faithful and strong man, for the kindness and love she had extended to her as a daughter-in-law and for her acceptance of her as a young bride. She expressed her fear of life without her mother-in-law’s kind influence over their future generations, and I inwardly reflected, at the impact this incredible woman had made upon her family during her lifetime.
Today was funeral day for this dear family. They experienced a kind and wonderfully loving service. As the family spent their final few moments together with the woman they called “Great Mom”, my dear friend, her daughters and her granddaughters stood together at the side of the casket expressing their appreciation, love and admiration for their Great Mom.
Today was a priceless experience for me. I witnessed the love, kindness and respect Great Mom had shared with her family, return to her at her place of final rest. Her calling in life had been magnified. She had raised an amazing family who will carry her remarkable gifts of love, kindness, and respect forward through the generations that follow. She had given a gift to those of us privileged enough to know them and, in particular, she had given me a gift too. Today, my heart was inspired as I witnessed the glory she left behind in the hearts and lives of those she had loved.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

The Errand of Angels

Before becoming a funeral director, I had never attended a service where there were two register books for guests to sign. Now that I have been a funeral director for a number of years, I have found that this situation, although unusual to me, is not uncommon. Two register books are generally required when some sort of family feud remains unsettled.
The family I served this week was one that I have served in the past. Unlike the preceding deaths in this family, this particular death was shrouded by family discontent and feuding. All through the week leading up to funeral day, I would receive calls from various family members. These calls were filled with expressions of displeasure over arrangement preferences selected by the opposing side of the decedent’s family.
As the days passed, I became more and more worried over the service plans for the decedent. Family members would express their concerns and assure me that he would not want his family in such turmoil.
Compounding this stressful situation, my client’s brother had died just three days prior. In fact, my client passed while preparing to attend his deceased brother’s visitation. A very sad announcement was made at his brother’s visitation that he would be unable to attend, due to his untimely and unexpected death, just minutes earlier.
Additionally, seven months prior, I served this family in the loss of sisters who died just three days apart. The amount of stress this family was suffering, caused by the multiple deaths so closely timed, only served to exacerbate the difficulties they were experiencing amongst themselves. There was also an issue with funding. Both brothers passed at an earlier age than is common, so neither had adequately prepared for the financial demands that come with death. In addition to the unexpected loss of their brothers, this family was faced with a hefty financial crisis.
As the members of this family lamented over payment for their services, a benevolent soul came forward and paid for their services in full. This kind person did not seek recognition for the generous deed performed out of love and charity. Indeed, he insisted that his identity remain anonymous.
As I notified the members of the decedent’s family that their expenses had been paid in full through the generosity of a kind soul, my heart was broken as I was unable to tell them who had provided the precious funds on their behalf. There was speculation and many questions directed toward identifying this person of benevolence, but as he had insisted, his identity was protected from detection.
His actions of benevolence and charity set Newton’s law of motion into swift opposing reaction. Family members who were but moments ago hateful toward each other, were so humbled by this person’s selfless generosity, that they immediately reversed their selfish and aggressive behaviors.  They  now exercised kindness and generosity toward each other, as they had in the past. As they arrived for my client’s visitation, there was no longer any need for two register books. This one sincere and charitable act of compassion brought harmony and peace back into focus.
I believe this kind soul has secured blessing from on high for his selfless generosity on behalf of this family and their deceased brother. I do not know how he knew of their need, but he came forward at a desperate hour. His actions not only relieved them of financial crisis, it freed them from living out the remainder of their days fighting and hating each other. This man performed the errand of an angel, a miracle, and I am thankful that I witnessed it.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Families are Forever

“Families are Forever” is a statement of truth.  Although some families break communications with each other, and others break associations with each other, the fact remains that they are still a family.
This past week I served a family that had broken associations with each other for one reason or another.  As time passed, they grew apart and became resentful of each other’s achievements.  In fact, so much time had passed between them, that their children and grandchildren no longer knew their aunts and uncles.
  

Death, however, is the great equalizer, it has a unique way of bringing the important aspects of life back into focus.  When one suffers loss, the absence and deprivation of the decedent's presence, that was once suffered by choice, now becomes unbearable. 

  
My client this week, was confused over longing for the person that he chose to ignore for so many years.  He asked me how such feelings were possible.  I simply responded,  "Families are Forever, and no matter how diligently we try to ignore principles of truth, when faced with the reality of mortality, we can no longer lie to ourselves."

  
When a family member dies, even when we have purposefully severed ourselves from them, our soul involuntarily mourns their loss.  The reason for this bereft response is the eternal truth that "Families are Forever".
  

My client mourns the loss of his estranged loved one.  He regrets the absence of love and experiences that could have been shared.  He suffers the realization that he chose to remain resentful when simple forgiveness would have brought happiness, love and harmony back into his family.
  

Now he must repair the generations of damage this estrangement has caused.  He must try to enlighten children, teenagers and adults into a familial harmony that will inevitably enhance their lives more than any other success they may obtain.  The truth of the matter is, that when societies, governments and friendships break down, families have always been and will forever be, the strongest unit of cooperation, achievement and love known to mankind.  They are the nucleus of human strength. 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.  I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.


Monday, March 9, 2015

A Funeral Director's Grief


Have you ever thought a person was off the mark, then suddenly found yourself in their situation and realized it was actually you who was off the mark? I guess the quote, “Don’t judge another person until you have walked a mile in their shoes,” is a truism.
As a funeral director, I often have clients who opt out of services for their decedent. There are numerous reasons for doing so, and I have always defended my clients in their choices. Some forego services as it was the express wish of their decedent, “If they didn’t care enough to come see me when I was alive, I don’t want them gawking at me when I’m dead.” Some have depleted their accounts, “After such a long illness, we just don’t have the funds.” Others are near exhaustion from the death experience, “We have been through so much, we just don’t think we can bare anything else.” I understand these claims and have always supported them.
Recently, I lost a very dear relative. The onset of his death was swift, and I was out of town as one of my children had undergone extreme surgery. I followed the events leading to his death through social media. He became gravely ill and had emergency surgery from which he was unable to recover. I loved this cousin so very much and admired both he and his wife for their kind generosity to others. His children decided to forego services, stating, “they had each had their private time with him before he passed.” What a wonderful blessing for them. I would hope that everyone has ample time with a parent before their death, reality, however, shows that this is a rare gift.
As my parents and cousins have come to me asking why his children opted out of services, I have come to realize certain facts of which I was once unaware.  People may not visit the infirmed for a number reasons.  Often elderly friends and family are themselves infirmed or no longer enjoy driving privileges.  It rarely is a purposeful choice however to ignore a dying relative or friend.  It is usually just as painful to the absent loved one as it is to the dying loved one that they are unable to visit.
My heart was crushed by not having the opportunity to achieve a final farewell with my beloved cousin. I longed for a moment of communion and quiet reflection to psychologically transition into accepting his death and offering my final condolence. A vital person who had contributed love, kindness and leadership in my life had passed, and I needed an opportunity just to say farewell and accept that he was gone.
His children buried him without services, and I finally realized what friends and family of my clients who opted out of services were saying. My grief is empty. I feel robbed of my opportunity to say goodbye. The reality of his death seems elusive or ambiguous.
In analyzing this experience, I find that I am grateful to my cousins for opening my eyes to the complications brought on by the deprivation of an opportunity to say farewell to the deceased. In college, my professors taught us the advantages and importance of funeral services. I studied complicated grief but didn’t understand how a simple choice of foregoing services could be its onset. This experience has broadened my understanding and will allow me an insight that I can offer to my clients. In short, it has made me a better funeral director albeit a sad one.

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Afterlife

When I was a young girl, my parents moved our family across the country to a western state. It just so happened; I had a cousin that lived there that I had never met. She was an adult, married and had children. She, her husband, and children were wonderful people. I loved them so much. She would load all of us into her shiny red convertible, take us to the outskirts of town, and there we would jump into the irrigation canals and ride the currents. Thinking back on it, I guess that is where I developed my love for water parks. Just like those irrigation canals from my youth, my favorite feature is, of course, the lazy river. When I became a teenager, this same cousin, moved her family back to the south. When I would come home for visits, she would host hayrides, hot dog roasts, swimming parties at the pond and dances for all of the cousins. She was always so fun. She died many years ago, and to this day, I miss her.
My cousin Connie Ruth and her husband John were amazing people. They were so fun to know, but their greatest attribute was their benevolence. There was never anyone within their view, who did without the necessities of life. They would give up wonderful vacations, new vehicles, home improvements, fashionable clothes or anything else they had planned on, and give it to whoever was down on their luck or needed any help whatsoever. They believed in Christ’s example, “Charity Never Faileth” and were truly on God’s errand here on earth.
When I moved back to the south, my cousin’s husband John, was the first relative I went to visit. He was the same as ever, just as kind, sweet, and fun as he had always been. I could see in his eyes as we reminisced that he missed his fun-loving and beloved wife beyond measure, everyone missed her. As the past few years have slipped away, I have seen his body weaken, and eventually, yesterday he died.
I am sad he is gone. I will miss him terribly. I think the world has lost a humble, generous and amazing man. I know I have. I believe in an afterlife though, so I think today my cousin is jubilant that she and her husband have been reunited. That belief brings me great comfort.
As a young girl, John and Connie Ruth forever changed my life. They showed me how important it is to be kind and generous to others, even if others have not been so kind or generous to me. Their examples of purity and benevolence will forever remain vivid in my heart, and I will continually aspire to fashion my life after their supernal examples.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the “American Funeral Director of the Year” Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Fire an Obstructive Funeral Practitioner

Have you ever been shopping somewhere and suddenly realized that the sales clerk was manipulating you? Imagine a 28-year-old woman, who has recently been rejected by her fiancé for a younger woman. She enters a cosmetic store for a lipstick and leaves with a bag containing a $2,400.00 two ounce bottle of cream designed to rejuvenate her skin back to wrinkle and age spot freedom. I am sure a 28-year-old woman does not have any wrinkles or age spots to speak of, but in such a vulnerable state, she might trust someone whom she thinks has greater knowledge about her needs. How do you think that sales clerk knew just how to sell her that ridicules bottle of cream?
My husband tells me it is body language, and interrogation, disguised as empathy. The 28-year-old woman probably told the sales clerk about her recent heartbreak, and the sales clerk, needing to make sales goals, used that information to her advantage. It is all hypothetical, but if you've ever left a store and wondered how you ended up with the things in your bag, you understand my point. 
Recently I assisted a client who had lost a loved one. My client had contacted a different funeral home and rather than cremating his loved one as requested, he was being forced into a burial. My client contacted me and asked that I take over his case.  I immediately contacted the funeral home housing his loved one for their charges, and informed them I would be the funeral director providing his requested services. 
That was the moment I realized my client had been unfairly treated and that now, as his advocate, I was going to have to assert myself on his behalf. Not only was he being forced into a burial, he was being charged for unnecessary services for which he did not ask. It also appeared that this first funeral home had consorted with another funeral home in town to block his wishes. These two very powerful funeral homes made it impossible to carry out my clients wishes, and I was forced to remove my client’s loved one across the nearby state line. Nevertheless, my client’s wishes were fulfilled; his loved one was cremated and inurned in a timely, dignified and appropriate manner.
My client's experience raises the question, what does one do when one has been blatantly mistreated or manipulated by a funeral practitioner?
My client did as he should have; he removed himself and his loved one from the manipulating funeral home and sought one willing to accomplish his legal wishes. The unbelievable stress and anguish my client suffered at the hands of this funeral home is unforgivable. I believe it will prolong and complicate his grief recovery experience for many years.
Upon the accomplishment of my client’s wishes, he asked me what he should do to ensure that others do not suffer, as did he. I told him that he did the best thing when he switched funeral homes. That action should have stopped the abuse. Unfortunately, the first funeral home was vindictive and interfered in every step of the process possible. In this situation, my client behaved reasonably and contacted his attorney. Again, his actions were appropriate. My client wanted to run an article in the local newspaper, naming the funeral homes that obstructed his wishes and exposing their activities. I suggested he consult with his attorney first. Revenge was not his goal, protecting others from such misery was what he wanted to accomplish.
My final suggestion to him was to register a complaint with the state’s Funeral Service Commission. Such a charge would open a review of the actions of the funeral homes involved, and cause the obstructive funeral homes to evaluate their motivations and adjust their actions in the future.
As a funeral director, I believe that most funeral directors are sincere and decent people. I do not know why these funeral homes found it necessary to behave badly. My client was a polite, well-mannered man who had lost someone very dear to him. All he asked was help and understanding to accomplish a dignified service for his decedent. I believe he deserved that. I believe everyone deserves that.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
Please follow my blog at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com. follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

Pre-planning Auntie

As I sat last week with my daughter in the hospital, she received visitors wishing her a speedy recovery. One of her visitors was a medically retired woman with questions and concerns regarding her unavoidable future death. Her questions revolved around her particular medical issues and the way in which they would be addressed during the preparation of her body. Her religion requires that she be dressed by members of her faith, and she wanted assurances that she would be able to have this done with as little inconvenience as possible to her friends and family.
After discussing the subject to her satisfaction, our topic changed to the type of services and choices she would prefer for her funeral arrangements.  I was surprised when I asked her who her pre-need was with, that she did not have one. I asked her why after all of the thought and planning she had so obviously invested into her preferences, had she not prearranged for their execution on her behalf.  This woman is in the unique situation of being rather young, yet rather ill. Fortunately, she was greatly appreciated and loved by the company she worked for, and out of concern for her, this company paid off her home, offered her a funded retirement and tacked on wonderful insurance coverage so that she could live out the remainder of her life in comfort without concern for her financial needs. 
She is also a single woman, she has never married and hasn’t any children. Her plan in life is to leave her sizable estate to her nieces and nephews. She stated that in exchange for her estate, they would have to take on the task of planning her funeral and burying her. I was surprised at her plan and asked if she loved her nieces and nephews any at all. She was taken back by my question and asked me to explain myself.
I was glad to accommodate her request and asked her why she would place these children, whom she claimed to love so deeply, in familial turmoil and financial ruin. She insisted that she would never do such a thing and that indeed; she was setting them up quite well financially. I asked her where she expected them to acquire the money for her services. She replied that they would come from her estate, of course. I pointed out to her that those funds would be tied up in her estate for quite some time; hard assets are not liquid assets. She argued that she had money in her bank accounts and that they could draw those funds out to pay for her services. I explained that those accounts would be frozen immediately upon her death until the courts released them according to the instructions in her will and predicated upon the procurement of a death certificate.
It had not occurred to her until our conversation that she was putting her nieces and nephews in such an undesirable predicament. Additionally, I explained to her that her nieces and nephews would be confused at a very stressful and sad time in their lives. Her niece might think that her aunt would want an expensive casket while another might think that she would have wanted a moderately priced casket with a vault instead. Then again, a nephew might think she wanted to be cremated and sprinkled out over the Cote d’Azur. Now let’s add to this, the fact that they each have to personally produce the funds to pay for her services. Also, by the time she passes, some of these nieces and nephews might be married with children. Now we have a potential family nightmare happening. Complicating this situation, these nieces and nephews might have to produce funds on her behalf while anticipating inheriting a substantial amount of funds from her estate. Do they spend the funds on her death, or do they conserve the funds so that once they inherit them, they have a nice little chunk of funds for their family? What were her intentions in leaving these funds behind? Some of her nieces and nephews may think they should spend their aunt’s money on her, while others may think she wanted them to have the funds to make their lives easier. The fact is that there will be unnecessary disagreements and stresses placed on her nieces and nephews because she failed to pre-arrange. By the time we had finished our conversation; my daughter’s friend had a new appreciation for pre-arranging her funeral needs.
 My business needed my attention, so I left my daughter in the hospital under the loving care of my sister. I traveled back up to northeast Texas and returned yesterday to Houston to check on my daughter’s recovery. As chance would have it, I met my daughter’s friend once again. I asked her how she was, and she informed me that she was more comfortable with her end of life arrangements. She had taken our conversation to heart and had pre-arranged her funeral needs with a local funeral home. She is now comfortable knowing that her nieces and nephews will not have to experience the tragic burden of second guessing themselves and arguing over her final rites. She has selected her services and pre-funded them. She knows that her beloved nieces and nephews will experience her death with the best chance possible for an uncomplicated grief recovery. With this simple act of pre-planning, she has taken away unnecessary stresses and financial difficulties from them. She has given them a great gift; she has made life’s saddest experience a little more bearable for those she loves.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. 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, information or booking speeches at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.