Parent




Man of Steel

My first case as a fully licensed funeral practitioner was my Uncle Roy Don.  As I was sitting in church Easter Sunday, I was reminiscing over family gatherings and events I had shared with my Uncle Roy Don.  He was the strongest man I had ever known.  He could pull the engine out of a car without the assistance of a lifting winch.  He had super strength; he was a “Man of Steel.”  He had grown up in a rougher time, when people worked hard for what they had and fought hard to keep it.  Men would come from far and wide to challenge his strength.  They always left with a new respect for his reputation.  I had seen him do so many things in life that were physically impossible for the average person.  His super strength is what had kept him going after losing his beloved wife.  I prayed for him that day at church.  Prayed that he would have the strength to live another day, so that my cousins would not lose their father on Easter. 

As church was ending, my cell phone rang.  I walked out into the foyer to answer it, and my cousin informed me that her father had just passed away.  Now every year when Easter comes around, I think of my Uncle Roy Don and the special experiences I shared with him when he was living.  I see my cousins, his daughters, either around town or on social media, and every year at Easter, they express memories of their late father.

When one has lost a significant loved one on a holiday, that holiday instantly changes forever in their heart.  The primary focus or celebration now becomes the marker in one's memory, as the day they suffered the loss of their loved one.  The first few years, one may be sad when that holiday comes around.  One hopes that the sadness of the death experience will eventually be replaced with happy memories of wonderful times shared together.  Reality however, works at a snail’s pace, and such a change does not happen quickly.
 
One need not lose a loved one on a holiday to feel an increase of pain on holidays.  The loneliness of loss is magnified every holiday, as we cycle through the first year, and each year after a substantial loss.  Holidays are set aside for family and close friend gatherings.  They are social events, shared with those we love most.  By disrupting our social circles, death disrupts our social events.  If you know someone who has lost a loved one, be mindful that he or she might delight in a thoughtful card, call or visit to get through a very painful and lonely holiday. 

 I was so honored that my cousins called upon me to lay their beloved father to rest.  It shall remain forever a special memory, that they put their trust in me to get them through such a dreadful experience.  Moreover, Easter has forever changed for me.  The profound celebration depicting the resurrection of our Savior gives me hope that one day, my darling cousins will reunite with their real life superhero, “Man of Steel.”

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.

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I Love Dad

I am a member of a very large family and found this on the internet, written by one of my dear cousins. 

“My sweet little Daddy's happy birthday!  So happy he is with Mother and all those he loves so much who have gone on.  Nevertheless, I miss him so much and wish we could have one of our big heart to hearts!  He taught me more riding along with him as we went to take care of the cows, hauling hay, going to the sale barn or just riding to town to get a so die pop!  Loved how he loved Memaw (his mother) and how he interacted with her.  Loved how he lit up when he was around his siblings.  Loved how devoted he was to Heavenly Father and his quiet devotion.  He was amazing.  I love him so much and still can't bear that he's gone!”

She continues, “Today, I fight back the tears that are so close to my heart as I miss my sweet little Daddy.  I loved him so much.”

My cousin’s father was a wonderful man and meant so much to so many.  Her tears are not a sign of weakness, they testify that the love and time she spent with her father  were, and continue to be, a great treasure.  Eventually there will come a time when holidays and special events will be easier to manage, but one never forgets their father, nor the love they shared together; nor would you want to.  Just because a loved one dies, does not mean that love has died too. 

The heart wrenching pain expressed by my cousin, can sometimes be softened by developing new traditions based on old ones shared with the deceased.  In my cousin’s little paragraph, she mentioned that she had learned so much from her father while participating in his work, caring for his cattle, hauling hay and accompanying him to the sale barn.  Now that her parents are deceased, she can develop these same special moments with her children and grandchildren by following her father’s example.  The death of a close loved one creates a wonderful opportunity to concentrate on developing those fabulous nuances that have created and molded you into the person you are today.  Honor your father by passing on his greatest parenting skill or grand parenting skill.  This would truly be a great compliment to your deceased loved one and an honor to his memory and accomplishments.

If you have the opportunity, please take this Father’s Day to openly express your love for your dad before it is too late.  In my line of work, I have seen young fathers as well as old, slip away without any warning, and at those times, I realize how utterly important it is to express your love and appreciation for all those you love, each and every moment you have with them.

Fathers are so important to the welfare and health of the family.  They play an important role in their children’s development into healthy functioning adults.  As I see families pass through my funeral home, I can immediately recognize families blessed with a strong father, from those who were not.  When parents die, realization of our own mortality, and the importance of being a strong and responsible parent, comes to the forefront of our minds. We vow to do better and regret our past shortcomings.  I believe one of the best things you can do at the loss of a parent, is to evaluate their greatest contribution to your life, magnify it and pass it on through your children.
Gratefully, my father is still living.  I tell him constantly that I love him, and how grateful I am to be able to draw upon his knowledge.  I dread the day that he will leave this earth.  When that happens, I know that I will be terribly sorrowful.  I will also know, that I have taken every opportunity to express my love to my dad.  That tiny bit of knowledge, I hope, will help me recover.

I saw on TV this morning that fathers are taking on more and more responsibility toward rearing families.  I believe this is an excellent statistic. 

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.

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Blessings, not burdens

Have you ever known someone and wished you could live in their shoes?  Maybe they are famous, maybe they have won the lottery, or maybe they have great luck.  Perhaps you know someone whose shoes you would not wish to wear.  I know someone like this.  She is my cousin.
When we were children, my cousin was scary.  She was older than the rest of us and so she was stronger, faster, and smarter than all the little cousins put together.  She would pull pranks on us and scare us tremendously.  As my cousin grew up, she was a little on the wild side.  Probably no wilder than most teenagers, nevertheless she frightened me.  As a young woman, my cousin “Got right with God.”  She became a strong church going woman and married a man from her local area.  She had children and her life settled into an average married woman’s life.  After a while, she divorced her first husband and married a second.
One day at work, I received a notice that my cousin’s adult daughter had been in an auto accident.  She had been broadsided by an 18-wheeler.  One wonders how she even survived.  My cousin immediately gave up her employment and sat day and night at the hospital with her daughter.  She prayed incessantly that her daughter would wake from her coma.  Nearly a year later, she did.  Unfortunately, her daughter must spend her days relearning life’s skills.  My scary cousin now has custody of her daughter and her daughter’s young children.  Life will never be the same for any of them.
Soon after her daughter and all of her daughter’s life functioning equipment came home, my cousin’s daddy fell ill.  Within a very short time, my cousin’s daddy passed away.  This was particularly tragic for her because she loved her daddy so deeply and because her burdens were increased unbelievably.  With the death of her daddy, my cousin assumed the role as leader within her extended family.  She now takes care of her disabled daughter, her disabled daughter’s very young children, her disabled mother, her ninety-eight year old grandmother, her nieces, and the mistakes and irresponsibility’s of her adult siblings.  Her burdens are so heavy and so numerous, I don’t know how she carries them. 
I attended her daddy’s funeral.  It was a normal funeral with the usual prayers, music, and sermon from the preacher.  During the funeral, my cousin walked up to the pulpit and spoke.  To this day, I don’t know how she did it.  With so many burdens, she spoke of her love for her daddy and their treasured experiences together.  She spoke of the newly acquired responsibilities and burdens that she would now be called upon to bear.  She was so vulnerable, so frail and yet so strong all at the same moment.  In an instant, she went from scary cousin to superwoman.  She pled with her siblings and her husband to help her with these burdens.  As she spoke, I thought to myself, my cousin was still the strongest, the fastest, and the smartest of all the cousins put together.  My heart was full and I was filled with appreciation and admiration for her.
Nearly three years has passed.  This past week at church, my cousin shared her witness of God and her love of Christ.  During her witness, she spoke of her dearly departed daddy, her disabled daughter, her very young grandchildren, her disabled mother, her ninety-eight year old grandmother, her irresponsible siblings, and her nieces.  She called them blessings, not burdens. 
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and writer.  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/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.
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A Daughter’s Sacrifice

This story is about a brave soul who is fearless and committed to service.  She is a courageous woman of strength, loyalty, and sacrifice.  She lives in a very small town where everyone knows everyone, and everyone knows your business.
She is a daughter in a rather large family.  Both of her parents are in the same nursing home together.  They share a great love for each other and their daughter respects that.  She gets up every morning and goes to the nursing home to care for her parents.  She washes them, she feeds them, she takes them for outings, and most of all, she loves them.  At the end of the day, when all is quiet, my friend carries home her parent’s laundry.  She painstakingly washes their laundry, and returns to the nursing home the next day, with fresh linens and undies for her dear mom and dad.  From the depth of her soul, she is committed to her parents.  To their dying day, she sacrifices and cares for their every need.  The interesting part of this story though, is yet to be told.  My dear friend lives in a town where her siblings also live. 
On any given day, I can drop by the nursing home, and there will be my dear friend, caring for her sweet parents.  Sadly, she has always been alone in her commitment.  One wonders why one child over the others is committed beyond reproach. 
Her father passed last year and my dear friend took care of every detail for his service.  She made arrangements for her dear mother to attend, and she ensured the comfort of all friends and family attending.  I do not think until that time, I had realized the depth of her commitment, her love and her sacrifice on behalf of her darling parents. 
I read a message today on facebook.  Paraphrasing it said, “Recovery from the loss of a loved one is like learning how to dance with a limp.”  This is so true.  Recovery from the loss of someone we love so dearly, is similar to the recovery of a broken leg.  Although the bone mends itself, it is never as it was before.  If may function well enough to walk briskly, but dancing exposes the injury.   
My girlfriend’s siblings dance through life without a thought or sacrifice for their parents.  Nevertheless, my girlfriend sacrifices her days, and even her nights, for her parents.  She never dances.  She has neither the time nor the energy to dance.  She shields her parents from the limp in her heart, which is the realization of their mortality.  Even in the final hours of her father’s life, she shielded him from the fear and sadness that weighs so heavily upon her soul. 
Her mother lives on.  My friend is by her side day in and day out.  She will continue to be there, until the day, her mother’s soul leaves this earth, and joins her husband, in the presence of their beloved maker.  I am sure they will enjoy a reunion of great joy and love.  I think they might even enjoy a dance together.  I wonder, might my friend share a dance with her husband, that same day?  A dance to honor her sacrifice and to rejoice at the return of her freedom. 
My friend is a devoted daughter.  When the day comes that she can dance, I know it will be with a severe, yet well-earned limp. 
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles and brief tips 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 http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.
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A Broken Family

This past week I served a broken family.  The father was a strong God-fearing man.  He was in his eighties.  He was a veteran.  He had brought comfort to many during his lifetime.
As many of us do, in his younger years, he had made mistakes.  His mistakes lead to a separation in his family.  A separation that at his death was insurmountable by his children.
Although this man who had served many during his lifetime has died, the ripple effects of his actions are continuing to affect the living in his absence.  Most particularly, his children.
You have always heard, “You hurt the ones you love.”  Unfortunately, this hurt transcends your death.  For those left behind trying to overcome this hurt, your death is not inconsequential.  Indeed, pain and suffering are exacerbated by death.
Death does not erase evil deeds against another.  If we are the offender, death robs us of the opportunity to make amends and to repair the damages we have inflicted against others; allowing us to rest in peace.  If we are the sufferer, death robs us the opportunity to forgive and overcome the damages we have suffered allowing us to live in peace.
It seems likely that this man’s family will never recover from his evil deeds against them.  How unfortunate that this family of children grew up never experiencing the comfort of their daddy’s strength, never grew up witnessing his good deeds toward others, and never grew up knowing that before all else, he loved them more than life itself.  The absence of these experiences creates a void and pathology within the psychological development of the human soul. 
The man, who created this family, destroyed this family.  His mistakes were probably the same that many of us fall into during our lives.  Mistakes that are easy to make yet difficult to repair.  This man went to his grave leaving behind him a trail of sadness, heartache, and betrayal.  His legacy could have been different.  It would have required restitution to his children.  It would have required him to take upon himself the consequences of his actions rather than leave his children to suffer them. 
As a parent, I want to believe this man tried to repair the destruction he caused within his family.  It is impossible for me to comprehend that a parent would go to their grave knowing that they were leaving behind such a mess for their children to live through.  The cold hard truth is however, that this is not the first time I have witnessed such devastation within a family caused by one of its own.  It is not the first, nor do I believe it will be the last. 
Death does not erase evil deeds against another we must do that ourselves.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on. 
Please follow me on Twitter @PushnUpDaisies and visit my website for additional encouragement and information at www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com.

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4 Precious Women
Four precious women came to my office.  Although they were sorrowful, they filled my funeral home with joy.  This was the day they had known would come; they were prepared both mentally and spiritually.  Between the four of them, the loss was great.  They had not only lost their daddy, husband, and grandpa; they had lost their spiritual leader.  The man in my parlor, while living, had been a Reverend.  His congregation had been small in number, but large in kindness, generosity, and acceptance.  As we worked through the details of laying the Reverend to rest, this darling family of women, cooperated and supported each other with softness and love.  These four precious women were a true testament to his work.    

Through the days that followed, the girls served their mother, and each other, with tenderness.  Their parishioners, one by one, came to the funeral home, and one by one, did so with kindness, respect, and compassion.  Indeed, the Reverend’s influence seems to have emulated the light of Christ to those he served.
During the week of this man’s death, these four precious women, demonstrated flawless virtue and goodness.  My heart grew with respect, admiration, and love for them.  My conviction in Christ’s mission was magnified, and my hope for humanity was shored up.

The Reverend’s final resting place was not where he had lived, and so necessity dictated that he travel a great distance for interment.  I was hesitant to see these four precious women embark upon the final leg of their journey, but knew they had an errand of love to fulfill.  Therefore, as I bid them farewell, my prayers and love went with them. 
These four precious women, who came to my office, suffering the greatest pain that we as humans endure, left it filled with joy.  I am grateful to them for sharing their time with me, for exemplifying the light of Christ, and for bearing their wounds with grace and dignity.  Although this week was caused by a solemn occasion, my soul was lifted, my joy was increased, and my cup was filled. 

 Even in his death, the Good Reverend’s work lives on.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer.  I write books, weekly articles, and brief tips 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 http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.

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Transformation

The loss of a parent can be very devastating.  At such a time, we realize so many things.  We understand that we no longer have our parent to call for help or advice.  At the same time, we realize that we are now the eldest person in our lineage.  We are now the person that others rely on for advice, experience, acceptance, and love.  We have suddenly become the custodian of our legacy.  We accept the responsibilities of keeping our family together, keeping them safe, and moving them toward a better life.  The torch of responsibility passes from one generation to the next as the breath of life and soul exists our parent’s body.

Earlier today, I witnessed the passing of the torch in my cousin’s family.  Today was her mother’s funeral.  My cousin, ever strong, spoke at her mother’s funeral as she did at her father’s just three years earlier.  As my cousin spoke of the love and lessons her mother had taught her, I could hear her breath quiver.  I marveled at her strength.  I remembered our earlier years as children when we would play at my great grandmother’s home.  My cousin would lead our small band of cousins as we struggled to play in harmony together.  As I sat in the congregation, my eyes scanned those attending.  I noticed that most of us, our little play group of cousins, were in attendance.  As my cousin spoke, I could see each of our playgroup empathize with her excruciating experience.

My cousin is so strong.  She has been tempered at her Makers hand.  She has suffered extreme trials and burdens and she has learned great lessons.  They have made her the amazing woman that she is today.  I have no doubt that my cousin will exercise great leadership with her family.  They are fortunate to have her wisdom, her strength, and her unconditional love to draw upon in times of weakness, self-doubt, or need.   

My cousin loved her mother.  She respected and appreciated her mother.  As she spoke, I saw a unique and marvelous transformation.  Today, my cousin accepted the passing of her mother’s torch and became the custodian for her family group.  She now carries the responsibility for her lineage’s heritage.  She will do a fine job, of that I am sure.  Through the trials of her life, she has suffered extreme difficulties and extreme joys.  Her experiences have well prepared her for this new phase of life.  She will have moments of weakness, self-doubt, anger, and despair.  They will be out weighted by the joy that comes from service and sacrifice for others. 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author, and freelance writer.  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/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.


STILETTO JO

Last week was a great week for me.  I received a call for help from a dear friend, whose mother had just passed away.  I am a funeral director, and helping others when they are hurt to their core, when waking and functioning are more than they can bear, and when their lives have become bitterly painful, gives me great satisfaction.

  I immediately drove my hearse over to my friend’s house, which is just down the street from my own, and sat with her, holding her hand as she called and notified her family of their great loss.  My friend is a brave woman.  She is a therapist; her job is to help others heal.  Healing others comes naturally to her, and she is great at it.  She finds the good in people and helps them draw upon their inner strength for recovery.  She is an amazing woman. 

As I sat there, beside her, holding her hand, I felt her breath quiver and her hand tremble ever so slightly.  I knew I was witnessing the courage of a healer, mustering all of the valor she held in reserve, for this most dreaded and grievous moment.  She had just lost her mother, yet she was nurturing and comforting her own adult children through the heart wrenching realization of losing their beloved grandmother.  It was a profound moment for me, because I saw her mother’s matriarchal mantel pass onto her own capable shoulders.

Preparing my friend’s mother for burial was an honor.  I could see the ravages of her illness on her tiny body.  I also saw the care and love my friend had rendered her mother, over the long and painful course of her disease.  As brutal as Alzheimer’s is on one’s mind, it is likewise brutal on one’s body.  The years and months of confusion can be debilitating and dangerous on the patient, as well as their family.  My friend had taken such loving care of her mother, that the usual physical signs of prolonged dying were absent from her mother’s tiny body.

My friend brought her mother’s clothing to me and along with the beautiful dress that her mother would wear when being laid to rest, was a pair of the loveliest stiletto heels.  My friend had taken such meticulous care of her mother, that even her feet were beautifully manicured and in perfect health.  My husband lifted my friend’s mother in his arms, and cradled her as he carried her to her casket.  When she lay there, I looked at her and thought what a wonderful mother she must have been to have raised such an outstanding daughter.  One that would become a healer and care for her in her final days.

Last week was a great week for me.  I served a dear friend at the loss of her beloved mother.  My reward was being able to witness the best in humanity at the most painful moment in life.  The measure of a good friend is not how funny they are, their glamour nor their wealth.  It is their ability to inspire us inwardly to improve ourselves.  My friend has done that for me this week. 

I love my friend.  I pray for her recovery, and I give thanks for my privilege in knowing her and serving her.

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 http://pushin-up-daisies.blogspot.com/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.
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My Client Today


My client today, wanted to see his mother.  I had just picked her up from the hospital, she was not yet embalmed, nor was she ready to be viewed.  She was still in her hospital gown, lying on my stainless steel table.  This was not the proper time, nor the proper way, for a loving son to see his mother. 

I understood his need.  Family members often ask to see the bodies of their departed loved ones before appropriate preparations have taken place.  It is a difficult moment for the funeral director.  Unfortunately, we must postpone their wishes until appropriate preparations have been accomplished.  Our duty is to present a death image that will promote healthy healing rather than hamper it. 

Often times, such a request is issued because the survivor was not present at the time of death.  This particular request however, was issued due to unfinished business.  This loving son, a man in his fifties, had let his mother slip away, without taking the time to visit her, during the illness that took her life.  His carefree lifestyle and lack of responsibility will now plague him with guilt and complications, in healing from his mother’s death.

In this type of situation, the survivor feels that if they can see their departed loved one, they can make things right.  This is unfortunately not true.  Regrettably, this bereaved son will spend a great amount of time, trying to recover from his lack of sound judgment and irresponsible behavior during the final days of his mother’s life.  I wish I had a cure for his pain; I do not. 

To avoid such pain in your own life, prevention is worth a pound of cure.  If you have a loved one that is ill, please call them.  Go by and check up on them.  Express your love, appreciation and dedication before they slip away and the opportunity eludes you. 

Unfortunately, I see all too often, families that forget to say those three important words, “I love you.” 

My name is Tracy Renee Lee.  I am a funeral director, author and freelance writer.  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/ and Twitter account  @PushnUpDaisies,  visit my website  www.QueenCityFuneralHome.com or read my book “Pushin’ Up Daisies”  for additional encouragement and information.

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