92 Comments

  1. I’ve read several attempts at describing this crazy and wonderful life of ours. This article is head and shoulders above any other thing I’ve read on this subject. This is my thirty-third year as a funeral director and embalmer. I’ve seen many things change but the aspects you’ve written about never change. Thanks for writing this.

  2. 30 years of service to my community as a Funeral Director/Embalmer and 9 years as Deputy Coroner this article was a direct pinpoint on what it’s like. Written beautifully and explained in a way that we, as Funeral service professionals would like to explain but can’t quite find the right words. Thank you.

  3. Twice in my 49 years have I utilised the services of a funeral director. Once for my baby boy who died at birth and again for my mother who passed away last year after a stroke, at age 73.
    The funeral directors that took care of my son were long standing customers of mine, working in the finance sector and I knew their business very well. Many times I visited their business premises and many times they shared their stories with me. I heard of the days that went well and the days where families had perceived errors happened with their loved ones send off. I heard what it took to keep their operation going : blood, sweat and tears..
    The company that looked after my mother were more remote. They were chosen because of their local reputation by my father. I didnt know them and they didnt know me or my family. But by the end of the process they were as familiar as family. Having spent so much time talking to them about mum, it felt like they really knew her well.
    In both instances the service received was personal and very much appreciated. It made difficult situations very bearable. The care and support received didn’t at any time feel forced and unnatural. I think this industy is definitely a calling and not just a job. You are very special people and will always hold a family’s heart in your hands. . Thank you.

  4. 25 yrs as an Officer I’ve seen my share of death. I was always relieved to see my local Funeral Homes show up to retrieve the bodies. It gave me comfort somehow that they took over at seeing to the removal of the body and that body would be put back together for the family if at all possible when death went horribly wrong. It sounds weird I’m sure to some. However the death for good or bad my thoughts were always for their family. Thank you for what you do and doing a job most would not do.

  5. I commend your apprentice. I generally have a strong stomach but I am a sympathetic puker, so there would have been an extra person, one without the stomach flu, throwing up that day.

  6. Wow, what a touching story. I felt so sad for the children of the deciesed, and the coincidental purchase of the house with the owners who shared the same fate. Seeing the shoes and unfinished projects. You are such a talented writer.

  7. Like all the stories you share this is another touching a heart felt one. I’ve read many stories of older couples dying within hours of each other. But to die side by side as they went through life just shows that sometime one heart cant beat without the other. That’s true love.

  8. I love this cultural tradition. What a wonderful way to honor the deceased. The richness of every life is a treasure. It’s a privilege to understand the rites of passage can include a celebration of our return to God. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

    1. Thank you for that comment. Culture is so important in celebrating a life, they are all amazing!

  9. You write so beautifully. I could envision the experience as if I had been there. I’m enjoying the armchair experience. Thank you for sharing your observations and understanding.

    1. It’s fun to write these stories for you and I am always glad when people enjoy my writing!!

  10. This is another poignant story that reflects the dignity that all life should be treated with. People’s lives are frequently notoriously defined by one act they commit while living. There is a great deal of life that is not shown that is steeped in acts of courage, kindness, love, and other noble characteristics. Whatever brought this young man to his fate that day, he had family, and possibly friends and acquaintances who knew other qualities of him. I am humbled as I peek into this experience, and love that he was shown respect for the fact that he lived. An accounting of his faults is not necessary, and I hope that one day my life, too, will be worthy of acknowledgement of worth, regardless of my own transgressions. I applaud the reverence shown for this young man’s life.

    1. What a sweet reply. And so true. The family and friends left behind deserve to have him honored for the man they knew him to be.

  11. There is always time to have a good laugh, and it is many times at the expense of the newbie. They modeled a great sense of humor that is needed from time to time, even in the mortuary business.

  12. You beautifully captured the experience. In my minds eye, I imagined the scenes as they unfolded. I agree that it’s a great gift to find mirth in all phases of life, and in adjacent happenings that clutter what you thought would be pristine. Life is beautiful. Thank you for making the point so eloquently.

    1. Agreed. Sometimes it takes watching someone pull through tragedy with optimism to realize it’s only as bad as we make it. Thank you for your comments.

  13. Today wasn’t a great day but reading this placed my day into perspective. I have, thankfully, never had to bury an infant. But most important, it was comforting to think that even deflated and smeared balloons may soar given the proper circumstances.

  14. Such a sad story but beautiful all the same. I have just retired from the Funeral industry and have had to deal with sadness of drugs and suicide not a senseless shooting of another human being. The heartache of the family is awful as so many times people just have no words. I just want to say Thankyou for sharing this story.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it! It was one of the hard stories to write for sure. I am exhausted! My next story will be funny or relaxing.

  15. This gives me so much to think about. That being said, I think about you. You did the best you could in these lingering moments of his life. You didn’t get to do it perfectly, and you didn’t get to do it over. That’s a genuine reality of life. At the same time, you did it good enough for him. He loved you just as you were. There are things you take away from these experiences, and I do mean experiences in the plural form. Different circumstances yield a variety of comprehensions to learn and grow from in life. Thank you for your vulnerability and talent to share this poignant burgeoning awareness and insight. I’m glad I got to meet your dear best friend. Somehow, I think he understands.

  16. Your post has given me so much to think about. I am rarely without words; however, after reading this I am.

  17. Your so right. I was an RN f
    or years and had to clean up…after. The feeling was like one you cannot explain. You tend to read into the trash picked up more. We learn to accept all this in a positive manor. Sometimes the lesson wears out,

    1. You are right, it does wear out. It isn’t easy keeping the reality of why the messes are there when your tired and worn to the bone. Thank you for your comment.

  18. Well said. I always find the most humbling part of my career is when everyone is gone and I am alone cleaning. This is the time I take just for me. Collecting my thoughts, often times shedding my private tears, but most importantly centering my emotions and thoughts before another family calls and I am needed again.

  19. What a touching and sensitive experience. I love how you showed respect to both the living and the dead, which is totally appropriate but not possible for every person due to their conflicted emotions. I love your quick appreciation of the feelings of the widow and her family. While the real hate this dear woman is experiencing is for death and anyone associated with it, she didn’t know how to express it, or maybe even recognize it. You captured the event beautifully. Thank you.

    1. Yes. That is true. It’s never against me just sorrow and grief and the inability to experience it differently

  20. God make miracles by making it happen awaken from comatose deep sleep brings life back in second chance from the dead.

  21. So tragic. Our family experienced this several years ago and you captured the event perfectly. We still experience the original emotions today.

  22. Chelsea, I believe that you and I might have lived together. Lemme ‘splain: I lived in the residence of a Funeral Home, and your description fit my (now-former) residence almost exactly – right down to the paint-spoiled cupboard doors! Unfortunately I never had any kind of “supernatural” encounter(s). Just the sheer boredom that comes from being new in town, knowing no one, and having to stay in the Funeral Home in case someone needed our ammalance. Love your stuff, m’Lady!

  23. So here we are in the Magic Mitten State, reeling from the explosion of disgusting practices from 2 or 3 Funeral Directors. Infant bodies stuffed in false ceilings – bodies left unembalmed and rotting in funeral homes – even the self-styled Queen of Soul was not above having her grand funeral display sullied by a self-proclaimed Funeral Director who has lost his license because of bad practices. It seems that our industry takes a couple Baby-steps forward, only to end up taking giant leaps backwards.

    1. It is true there are many who should never be allowed to serve the dead and their families. These things that we see and hear are truly horrible and we do take baby steps forward only to be pushed back 50 steps by people like these. It is my mission to show the world that there are good, honest, kind and moral funeral directors as well. Thank you Bob, your comments are always welcome, I truly appreciate your insights here.

  24. Hi Chelsea, I’m friends with Nicole Woodland, she told me about this book and I knew I wanted to read it. Have you thought about marketing it to Hospice companies? I used to work for one and I think it might be helpful. Just a thought. 🙂 The quote I read was absolutely beautiful and touching. I think it’s great that you wrote this book and will no doubt help countless people to deal with grief. I also want to purchase a copy if I may, please.

    1. Hi Margaux. Thank you for the comments. Yes, I have talked to many hospice workers, great thinking! It is for sale on amazon, however if you would like a signed authors copy I will be doing reading and signings in February. 😁

  25. This is a bittersweet story. I have known of this to happen not just from a death, but also divorce. This couple had an amazing connection that is formed through the experiences of life. What a blessing they had that can continue on the other side. Thank you for writing about this poignant moment in their lives.

  26. I love this post today. I’ll tell you that while the family noises can be loud sometimes, the quiet is even louder.

  27. Type B takes ghostly possession of Type A personality. DO NOT check the yellow pages for an exorcist:) Truly the that which matters most esists within our most inner…tiny circle.

  28. Oh but if the underlying sense of “inconvenience” was not ever present? A phenomenon that we are a stranger to. Or…are we? Was it that there was “no money” for gas? Or…did that expenditure cut into other “needed” purchases? What could possibly be more important than paying a final respect to our loved one? A test in a college course? Preserving spring break? Avoiding the use of personal, medical, vacation leave? By the way……LOVE your optimism:) . What ‘exactly’ is most important?

  29. Beautiful words truly spoken. I love your posts as they give honest insight into your profession. May I share this with someone who recently lost their mum?

  30. It would be terrifying to be stuck in traffic during a tornado. The concern we feel for thr safe return of the decedent to the funeral home. We are their last ride home. Their families trust us with them.
    I’m so glad you both were safe!! I’m also glad I am not the only person who talks to my decedents!

    1. It is nice to hear you talk to them too. It is comforting to feel like I am comforting the dead. If that makes any sense…

  31. What a tender and touching story. Evidentially, they were not only poor financially but lacked the emotional resources to proceed to the next step. How devastating that they clearly loved him but could not imagine a resolution of the barriers before them. Hopefully, they found some way to move forward, just as their family member did. I like to think the man would want that for them.

  32. I wish you continued success Monica I have been embalming for 35 years I always enjoy teaching new interns Wish I could do more !
    Thank you
    Robert L Muratore CFSP