How Could I Forget?

I started this column several weeks ago, but forgot about it.

Lauren reminded me of it with this article.


It has been a while since I have written about funeral service, which is what I am supposed to write about, I am told.

On Thursday morning, a woman drove two and a half hours to come to our facility to take possession of her husband’s cremated remains, aka “ashes”.

That, in and of itself is not unusual…people come almost everyday, doing the same thing.

But today was different.

Everyday, funeral directors all around the world do their job and they do it very well.

We are called to journey with people when they are literally having the worst day of their lives. It really is a sacred honor that I never take for granted and I (like the vast majority of funeral directors) endeavor to treat each person who calls us as if they were a family member.

That is just the way it is.

We are often called to serve families that have several members with different expectations/desires as to what their relative’s funeral should be like…..and each thinks that they should be the one in charge and I should only listen to them.

That is when be take on our role of “family mediation specialist” and try to get everyone on the same page. Most times, we are able to get everyone agreeing on a course of action and the game of give and take works out well. We hope to use our skill so that we can give a little to everyone involved.

Unfortunately, it does not always work that way and we find ourselves in the middle of a family battle and we end up being “the enemy” in that battle.

I could go on and on, but the point I want to make is that sometimes, no matter how hard we try and how creative we get, someone in the family thinks we didn’t do a good job and they make sure that we know they feel that way.

But then there are days like today.

The woman, whose husband had died just last week from a fairly lengthy illness, brought me a “care package”.

She was referred to us by a hospice caregiver and she called me a few days before her husband died. I talked to her like I talk to everyone that calls us on the telephone. Everything I said to her….I have said thousands of times. Each question, each suggestion and the directions as to what to do next.

I might have had that same same discussion with two or three other people that same day.

I am finally getting over a summer cold/flu that I came down with on Labor Day and I have coughed, sneezed, and tried sounding normal on the telephone, but anyone talking to me knew what was going on. (I felt like I had a broken beer bottle in my throat)

Somehow, it touched her. Somehow, I made a difference in how this woman dealt with her husbands death…to the point that she went out and purchased items to put in a “cold and flu care package…chicken noodle soup, crackers, pain reliever, tissues, cough drops and a beautiful, handwritten thank you note.

A bag of gratitude and caring.

She made reference to the fact that most people would have stayed at home if they had been sick like I had been and she really appreciated all the calls and the extra “little” things I had done for her. (I probably would have stayed home, but Allen was on vacation, so I did not have much choice.)

I was deeply touched by her act of gratitude.

The roles were reversed and she was now caring for me.

This old undertaker (Thank’s Todd) is reminded that it is impossible to be everything for everybody. If we do our work like it is possible however, we will continue to help people solve their problems when death enters their life and they will be grateful.

Thank you for reminding me, Lauren.

About Ray V.

Living between Aiken & Nashville, TN, USA, I like to share what I am looking at, thinking about or listening to. I refer to this as the view out my window. Thanks for stopping by.
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2 Responses to How Could I Forget?

  1. Dale Clock says:

    A great story Ray. So often, as funeral directors, we tend to focus on the complaints that those tough families throw at us. We forget that we do a lot of good in this world. It’s acts of kindness like this we need to remember.

    Dale Clock


  2. When my Dad passed recently in June, the funeral directors he had chosen were such a gift of comfort to us…we even hugged! You have a special job which obviously you do very well at ~ and you should be proud. It’s all about the little things that make the biggest differences ~ that and a well-meaning smile and a touch to to the heart. Hope you are feeling better.


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