I had a dear friend die this past year.  Although he passed away in a different state, I go to his social media page and leave him messages every now and then.  I miss him so terribly, because he was an amazing human being.  His heart was true and good, and he was honest with his fellow man and with himself.  He was a friend to my family, and when you met him, you loved him, because of his goodness.  My friend died smack dab in the middle of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  How like him, he died in the season of family tradition and giving, two things he revered.
It would be easy to be miserable this year, thinking of how much we miss our dear friend, but he would not want that.  Instead, we will remember all of the good that he contributed during his short life.  We will be thankful for the time we had with him, the growth he inspired in us, his kindness, his generosity and for his passion for truth. 
I read his obituary today, for the first time.  It spoke volumes about my friend.  It mentioned his accomplishments, which were many; and then, there was a paragraph that told who he was.  “Preston always stood up for correct principals.  He was a scriptorian, loved music, upheld the Constitution, big on self-sufficiency and was courageous and undaunted.” (Richfield Reaper, December 2012)  I am thankful for so many things, and although I may shed a tear that he is gone, I will forever remain grateful for the influence of my dear friend, and the example he set for me. 
The holidays can be a very difficult time for someone who has lost a loved one, especially if this is his or her first holiday season since the loss.  Even though we try to focus on how much better our lives are for having had our loved one, we miss them so terribly, that it is difficult to experience the cheer of the season.
If you know someone suffering through his or her first holiday season after loss, please be mindful of him or her.  This is a particularly difficult time and they may feel lonely and isolated.  Take a moment to remember with them, the wonderful moments of life they shared with their loved one.  Participate in family traditions and create new ones that honor their deceased.  Your blessings will be great, and you will have helped someone through a time, when your good acts of kindness were priceless.
That is what my friend Preston would have done. 
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and mid-week grief briefs related to understanding and coping with grief.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 
Please follow my blog at and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.

St. Patty's Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your holiday.

Memorial Day

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were out of town, dining at a country style restaurant. As our dinner was being prepared, we met a chief staff member from an elected U. S. Congressman's office. My husband engaged the staff member in conversation and inquired, to which Memorial Day ceremony would the staff member and Congressman attend in their district. The staff member informed us that the Congressman sees no reason to return from Washington DC to his area for such an event, and that he, the Congressman’s chief representative, spends his Memorial Days at the lake.
Ordinarily, this would not offend me as I enjoy holidays, and I enjoy the lake. Memorial Day, however, is one of America's most observed holidays.  It is one day out of 365 that Americans set aside to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, while protecting our freedom. It is one of our most important holidays, as statistically, nearly every American has had a member of their family, serve our nation through one war, or another. I am a member of multiple organizations whose missions are to preserve the history, honor and graves of our fallen soldiers and deceased veterans from the beginning of our nation’s history to the present. I have willingly taken this obligation, in order to honor my veteran kindred dead, as well as other veterans whose families are unable to attend their graves. Likewise, I engage in these organizations to educate my children and grandchildren of the life’s blood their ancestors have shed, for the establishment and preservation of their rights, liberties and freedom.
As a funeral director, I serve mournful families as they lose their veterans. These honorable men and women deserve the love and appreciation of a grateful nation, as well as from their elected politicians. We do not observe military honors at these funerals simply to show off, we observe them out of reverence and respect for the veteran's selfless sacrifices on our behalf. Service members risk their lives and the well-being of their families to protect our nation's honor and freedom. They spend months and even years on unaccompanied tours in harm’s way, so that we can go to the store and not fear a grenade exploding as we enter. It is inconceivable that a U. S. Congressman does not see the need to return to his district to honor the veterans he represents, or that his chief staff member would not see the importance of observing with reverence the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans at a Memorial Day ceremony in the Congressman’s unpardonable absence.

My husband is a military veteran. I am a military veteran’s wife. I hold dear his honor and sacrifice to our nation. I hold dear the honor and sacrifice of each and every one of our nation’s military veterans. I am saddened that Washington DC harbors elected politicians who do not understand or appreciate the sacrifices of our brave service members and their families. I love my country, and I respectfully serve families who are laying their beloved men and women of merit and honor to rest. It is my privilege to serve these families and help them through the worst day of their lives; the day they must say their final farewells and accept Old Glory as a token of appreciation from a grateful nation. le