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.