October is a palpable time of year. It encompasses the mystery of life from beyond, the dead are remembered, revered or feared in balanced fervor. I love Halloween! I like this time of year to remember that the spirit of people and animals alike may still have some hold on this world. This is the only time of year that I display in my own home skulls, skeletons, headstones and all the creepy crawly things that we usually shy away from. I like the freedom of being strange and macabre because what I do for a living is usually seen as strange and macabre. I am a mortician and I care for the dead and I love what I do.
The history of my profession is timeless. From the beginning of time, life has been born and life has ceased, there is no other way. We cannot have life without the end of it. To prepare myself for this post I have been listening to the podcast LORE, Aaron Mahnke has an otherworldly way of telling stories that make us reconsider whether or not ghosts are living amongst us. I have also been watching the series Haunted, where people tell their stories of being abducted, cursed, wounded or frightened by unseen forces. I am not a big believer of entities from beyond plaguing us with their unfinished business, undying love or need for revenge. That being said, I have found some interesting links that may make you think twice about where that creak in the floorboards is really coming from.
In the movies when they show scenes with bodies long dead,
they are almost always blackened corpses with mouths agape, giving expressions
of horror. Scenes of white teeth gleaming against dark, desiccated skin. They
have patches of wispy, white or gray hair that mottle the scalp and their limbs
are stiffened in unnatural poses with bony fingers seemingly grasping at what
could have been desperation in their final moments. The actors walk up to the
scene with handkerchiefs held over their mouths to stifle the acrid smell of
advanced decomposition. The rooms are almost always dimly lit and dirty with
flies swarming the space, signifying new generations of maggots. Almost always there
is dripping water somewhere adding to the musty environment creating a sense of
disrepair and dirty living conditions as if this is the only environment where
people die alone.
While this may be true in some cases, it isn’t always.
People die alone in normal, clean and bright homes with pictures of the people
they loved all around and yet still alone. I marvel when we come into a situation
where the sick are left unchecked because family members have jobs or have
moved far away. So many shut out the burden of the elderly, forgetting that hopes
and dreams don’t dim with age. The role of a funeral director is not to judge.
We don’t know the details of family dynamics. We walk into what seems to be a terrible
situation only to learn things that we didn’t previously know, things aren’t always what they seem.
I pulled up to an apartment complex in my van and was
greeted by the police. They explained that the woman I was there to receive had
been dead for several days. Another case of abandonment is what I imagined. Finally,
my coworker arrived and we followed the policemen up to the apartment. As we entered,
the space was bright and cheerful. Upon walking in the door there was a cat litter
box immediately on the floor inside a modest kitchen to our right then after
taking just a few steps there a small hallway to the left that led to a
bathroom and a bedroom. I asked about the cat, the police explained that it had
been taken to a shelter since there was no one around to take custody. There
was a living room where a woman was busying herself with tidying things up,
seemingly trying to find something to do. She avoided eye contact with us so we
respectfully left her alone and continued. We walked down the short hallway and
could see the woman lying on her bed. Her mouth was wide open, her limbs stiff.
She had been dead for some days. The bedroom was tidy, the top of her dresser was
filled with trinkets arranged lovingly. Her closet door stood open and I got a glimpse
of organized, well cared for clothing hanging and pressed.
We assessed how we would get her moved from the bed to our cot
and then went back to the living space. We explained to the police the steps we
would take in getting the woman transferred to our van. At this point we got a
good look at the living space. There were pictures everywhere of family,
friends, and adventures she had been on. The carpet was clean and vacuumed, an
afghan gently folded over the arm of the couch. it was a striking comparison to
the body that lay in the bed just footsteps down the hall, seemingly abandoned
by everyone who claimed to have loved her once.
The details of the transport are not important, what was
important is that the woman tidying things up turned out to be a long-time friend
of hers. She told us how the woman had siblings, nieces and nephews who loved
her and talked to her on the phone regularly. The family had all moved away
from each other and this woman had lived alone. She was divorced with no
children. The deceased woman had been healthy enough and only days before had a
phone conversation with her niece. She was loved and cherished and the pictures
in her apartment reflected that. Due to the state of her body in advanced
decomposition, all alone in her room, her body could have easily fit in a scene
from a horror film, but her life and the family that loved her could not. I was
not present for her funeral but understood that her family was there and told
stories of her and rejoiced in her life and loved her greatly.
My career has been filled with small surprises in caring for
the seemingly forgotten dead. I have told stories where funerals have had only
one in attendance, where a person was truly alone and we never found any
surviving family or what seemed to be a forgotten soul was actually loved by
many. These are all realities. The truth in death is a slippery slope of learning
and growing. I knew death before becoming a mortician. I knew death by illness,
suicide and murder amongst my own friends, family and a boyfriend. This journey
of sharing my love for people and helping them in their most vulnerable and
broken state has been a test in my fortitude. Anyone in this business, and yes,
it is a business, have these stories and experiences.
In this second wave of funeral stories I hope to share not
just my experiences but the experiences of others. If you have a story that you
would like published in my second book please submit it by mail to: P.O. Box
1961, Salt Lake City, UT 84110, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include your name and contact information and any pictures you would
like to include. If you have not yet read my first book “Speaking
of the Dead” you can get a copy by clicking here.
It is midnight. Most people are tucked in bed sleeping soundly. Your funeral director is up working dressed in a smock and gloves, preparing the dead. Their phone is always nearby just in case of the inevitable phone call notifying them of another death. Your funeral director is always ready, always prepared, day or night.
During the last few months I have posted very little. I started a business and have been working on some other ventures. Today I wanted to share with you other funeral directors who have been using social media to convey their messages. I have compiled a list of links and descriptions and created another tab on my website called “Others in the industry”. It is important to celebrate the brave souls who are willing to speak out and teach others about the mystery surrounding the inevitable, our death. I have a great respect for those who talk about death in a respectful way. There are no gimmicky, romanticizing, dark lords here, just real people who handle real death and understand your fear of it. https://chelseatolman.com/those-in-our-industry/
To arrange an interview, or request a signed copy of my book “Speaking of the Dead”, please contact me directly at 801-702-9202, email to: email@example.com, and follow me on social media at twitter.com/chelsea_tolman, instagram.com/thembalmergirl, or facebook.com/mbalmergirl
It was a drizzly day, big fluffy clouds with varying shades of gray swirled overhead. The humidity hung in the air whispering of the storm that was threatening to overtake the city. It was mid-afternoon when I received a phone call to pick up a deceased man from the Medical Examiner’s (ME) office, so I jumped in the funeral home van and hit the road. Once I arrived at the ME’s office I backed the van into a small alleyway that ended with a railing and ramp that led to a large metal door. I rang a bell next to the metal door and a staff member escorted me with my cot inside to retrieve the deceased man. The staff member and I chatted and bantered back and forth, talking about what cases he had seen lately, I talked about the families I was currently serving. He then retrieved the man from a back room, and I proceeded to check the name on the tag attached to the man’s foot, verifying it was the right person. We transferred the man onto my cot and I left the building just like I had countless times before.
After getting my passenger safely into the back of the van, I climb into the driver’s seat and hit the road again. It only took a few minutes and I was on the freeway headed back to the mortuary. The clouds were ominous. Darker than before. Then, as I was driving it started to hail and the wind became angrier, so much so that I had to keep a tight grip on the steering wheel to prevent the van from careening into another lane. There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the freeway, but every car was slowing down due to the severe weather conditions. The hail stones became bigger and bounced off the windshield with so much force that I feared it would crack the glass. The wind had become so strong at this point that almost all of the traffic was moving at a crawl as the drivers struggled to keep control of their cars. This scenario is incredibly difficult to explain if you haven’t ever experienced it. I was surrounded by a black and brown haze as the wind picked up dust and debris from the streets and hurled it around like an angry child throwing an epic temper tantrum. The hail stones crashed and smashed with incredible energy.
At this point I was thinking that I had to get off the freeway and under some cover. As I neared the next overpass it became apparent that I was not getting off the freeway any time soon. The cars that were ahead of me had stopped under the overpass for protection and blocked any other cars from getting passed. I was stuck! Cars stopped in front of me and cars now stopped behind me, my only option was to put the van in park and climb in the back of the van away from the windows and wait it out. It was just me and the man I was charged with keeping safe hunkered down with nowhere else to go.
The baseball sized hailstones hit the van, threatening to break the windows and punch through the seemingly thin metal that protected me and my passenger. The sound was deafening, the booms echoed in the cramped metal space. The wind bullied the van, pushing it from side to side seeming to try and knock us over. I talked to the dead man lying on the cot next to me. I told him I would do whatever it took to get him back to the mortuary safe so that his family didn’t have to experience any more trauma than they already had. In my head I thought about what I would have to say to them if by chance we were thrown over and the body was injured. I was mentally preparing myself for the possible hours of reconstruction I would be faced with if this whole thing went badly. I would do what I had to do to assure the family could say goodbye to a complete and whole person. As these thoughts and scenarios swam around in my head, the wind slowly lost its rage and calmed. The hail storm abated, and the clouds parted. How long had it been? a minute, an hour? I am not sure. The storm had passed, well not so much a storm but a tornado that had run amok around the city and seriously close to the freeway I had been trapped on.
Through this entire ordeal, there was not one crack in the windshield, not one dent in the metal of the van and the man that I had picked up from the ME’s office was safe and unscathed. I was able to present him to his family unharmed.
This was the 2008 tornado that ripped through Atlanta and tore open Georgia dome! 30 people were injured and one person was killed. The video below is my father telling the story during one of my book readings.
these doors is the most sacred room in the building. It is where loved ones
come to be prepared for the most difficult event in a family’s life. Those that
work behind these doors pledge to each family a never-ending commitment of
respect and service to those that place their trust in us.”
In mortuary college, every student is pledged to care for the
deceased with respect and treat the families with integrity. I remember
standing with my graduating class, adorned in my robes and tasseled hat,
repeating each word of the oath written below. After all my classmates and I
had gone through in class, the testing, the long days and nights, the testing, so
many subjects we needed to learn to get to this day and did I mention the
testing! We said each word together with family and friends in the crowd,
watching and listening to what we promised to do. I couldn’t have been prouder
of our profession, that we were required to take such an oath to do our job.
There is a reason that families trust us, we have an incredibly important role
in handling people and the deceased. Real things. Important things. One little
white lie will always turn into a chain of other lies which destroys trust and
reputation. One unwashed instrument carrying a disease can be carelessly
We are the ones who will do the jobs not many others can or will do. We are the ones who care about you before we have ever met you. We are the last responders, and more recently I have heard us described as ninjas. We are your funeral directors.
“I do solemnly swear by that which I hold most sacred;
I shall be loyal to the Funeral Service Profession and just and generous
to its members; That I shall not let the constant relationship and
familiarity with death give me cause to yield to carelessness or to
violate my obligation to society or to the dignity of my profession.
I shall obey the Civil Laws. That I shall not divulge professional
confidences; And that I shall be faithful to those who have placed
their trust in me.
I continue to keep this oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy
honor in my life and in my profession; and may I be respected by all
people for all time.”
The pillows have been fluffed, fresh water is ready in a drinking
glass nearby. There are rows of bottles neatly arranged on the bedside table
and someone you love is tucked under the sheets, sleeping soundly, finally. How
long will they be asleep this time? An hour? Eight? There is no telling when the
illness is terminal, and you are the caretaker. Has it been days? weeks? Years?
Doctors visits, therapy, medications, little sleep and sponge baths. It is an
honor to care for the people we love and help them when they cannot help
themselves, it is also a full-time job and exhausting. So, what happens when
this part of the job is over? Your person has died, and the hospital takes away
the bed that you have placed fresh sheets on a thousand times, cleaned up
messes with soap and bleach and lovingly snuggled with someone you love who was
sick and dying. The bottles of pills are no longer needed, some full, some half
empty. That drinking glass with the flower print sits on the night stand
silently reminding you that this person loved purple irises. So many things you
are now going to go through, the next set of tasks are listed somewhere in your
brain. Your journey through grief starts here.
Many experts have published the stages of grief that we are
supposed to go through. Like there is a pre-prescribed way to come to terms with
why your mother is no longer there for your planned Sunday brunch date, or why your
brother was found hanging in the closet when he seemed so happy, or why your
unborn child never made it through the birth canal alive. There is no formula
for getting through these events. There is no end to how people leave the world
as we know it. And there are thousands of ways that we as humans handle these
losses. It is time to put away our assumptions of how people grieve and let go of
the way a funeral is done just because that is how it has been done. People don’t
live and die in the same manner, lets celebrate who they were on our own terms,
with our own kind of celebration.
Watch out 2019, Chelsea Tolman is on the loose! I am gearing up for some exciting new content and a new look. That being said mbalmergirl will be dark for a few weeks in preparation of these new things to come. In the meantime all previous blog posts will still be available for your reading pleasure. You can also find me on instagram @thembalmergirl, facebook @mbalmergirl and twitter @chelsea_tolman, browse my website for previous interviews on podcasts, blogs, radio and TV and contact me with any questions or suggestions of things you would like to see, hear or read about at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact page on my website.
Thanks to everyone for following and reading my blog and to those who have/are/will read and review “Speaking of the dead”
Gillian Rodriguez is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in the state of
Texas. She has been fully licensed since 2013 and has been in the funeral
industry since 2011. She is now the aftercare director for Parting Pro, a
rapidly growing software company for funeral professionals.
How did you get into the
Funny story. I set off after high school and
earned my bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2007- about the same time the
recession was really gearing up. Realizing one million (plus or minus) students
were graduating with my same degree every year, I decided I need to
differentiate myself. I’d previously completed internships in forensics, where
I loved the science but missed the connection with people. I’d also completed
an internship in grief counseling, where I loved working with people but missed
the hard sciences. I took time off to soul-search and really determine what I
wanted to do, and then it hit me. Funeral Directing. The challenge of it
appealed to me in a way I still can’t explain- I wanted to step into the lives
of people who needed it the most, and be their helper. Fearing my parents’
total disapproval (they were envisioning law school or another post-grad
program, I think), I sheepishly mentioned my interest. My mom grinned ear
to ear, and said it made perfect since, given my heritage. How could I have
escaped this connection? Of course, she was right. I would be the fourth-generation
funeral director/embalmer in my family, and the first woman in the succession.
So, was it family? Was it passion? Without hesitation, both.
This industry is hard. Why
do you do your job every day?
I have an inexplicable desire to approach the
hardest, worst situations in the world and act. The challenge of not only
directing, but really helping the families who needed it most, traversing this
universe of shock, grief, terror, anger, sadness, relief, happiness and joy in
their memories…and everything in-between? Yes, please. The families that are
the “hard” families, with the most complicated situations and loss?
Those are my people. The ability to reach the un-reachable is something that
drives me every day, even now.
What is your favorite part
of the job?
My job has taken me into a new challenge of
our profession- communicating with colleagues across the country about death
care technology. As the Aftercare Director for Parting Pro-the most innovative
software in the funeral profession- my job is tasked with bridging the gap
between the nostalgia and familiarity of yester-year (typewriters? carbon paper
contracts?) and the technology of the future (digital ID verification, online
arrangement experiences and digital case management). It’s no longer
sufficient to have a website that tells families to call your business. Your
website must now offer an interactive, online experience. Families can buy a
diamond ring, a car, a house and more online- why is our profession lagging in
meeting families where they need us, in their new-found online communities? You
can still be the neighborhood funeral home, while recognizing that a virtual
“neighborhood” exists, too. So my favorite part? Intellectualizing
how to take our profession into the future, with compassion, values, and
service at the forefront.
How do you balance work and
home life? What do you do for self-care?
Wait, there’s a balance? Just kidding! First,
I want to acknowledge that I didn’t pop out of mortuary school knowing about
this balance, the need for it, or how to achieve it. That was a rather painful
learning experience that took years to master. I realized I was working myself
to death for a lifestyle I could never participate in, because I was working
myself to death. Which brings me to my self-care: Saying “no.”
Sounds simple, but it’s not. Learning how to say no was, and still is how I practice
self-care. Does this mean I don’t work hard? No. It means I’m selective in the
work that I do, and relish the peace found in the quiet moments that are mine
to own. I think, as women in this profession, we often believe that we have to
work harder, smarter, better, stronger, and “more” in order to prove
our place. But it wasn’t until I realized that mentality was total bullshit and
self-destructive, that I was able to pour myself into my total life
Outside of work, what are
I’m consumed by learning. My hobbies/interests
at the moment are graduate school, where I’m earning a Master’s degree in
clinical mental health counseling. Immersing myself in intellectual stimulation
may sound like torture to some, but for me, it’s my time. It’s my mental space
to re-claim and grow my own understanding of people, their lived-in
experiences, their meanings. My focus is on applications of emotional contagion
and indirect trauma, as well as combining artificial intelligence with bereavement
counseling services online to one day, broaden accessibility to these resources
If you choose, tell us
about your family, kids, spouses, pets etc.
My family, without a doubt, is the only reason
I can do this. Any of this. When I was considering graduate school, my husband
simply looked at me and said, “I want you to have your dream.” My
son, who’s three, well…while I think the hours away from each other are hard
on us both, the hours spent together are that much more savored and treasured.
He’s my absolute sunshine (and knows it). My dogs are my other children, and
there have been many, many times I’ve cried into their soft fur at night in
total grief for the family I served. My
village deserves every ounce of credit for my professional, personal and
Tell a story about a family
you have served.
While working at an internship, I remember
serving a family of a fallen serviceman who was killed overseas. I’d never been
exposed to this level of service, had no idea what “high profile”
meant or anything to do with the ceremony and honor of that type of service. I
was completely naive, not prepared, and shadowed the entire process in my own
shock and awe. The day of the arrangements, my brother told my family he would
be deployed, and all I could envision was this family at the funeral home.
About the time I broke down, and decided that I couldn’t be a funeral
professional, I realized that if something like that were to happen to my
brother, I would want someone to take care of me, in the way I desired to care
for that family. It was more than a desire. It was a compelling need. A
determination to perfect it. My brother was deployed to South Korea and we were
blessed with his safe return. Naturally, the military perfected 99% of the
service, but the small time I had with his widow inspired me to contact The
American Widow Project, and promote their materials throughout as many funeral
homes as time would allow.
What message would you like
to give to the public about our profession?
I am human. I am not Lurch Adams. I am not a
morbidly-consumed evil-wisher, waiting to prey upon a family when tragedy
strikes and my pockets are empty. Nay, I’m a rather normal person. If you see
me in the grocery store, I’ll probably have my son, shopping for the same food
you eat. If you call me at 3 a.m., I’ll probably sound foggy for the first
three seconds because…I actually sleep. When you feel pain, I feel pain. I’ve
just learned little tricks to sustain myself long enough to get to my car and
cry the entire way home. I know how to care for you when your over-sized
sunglasses aren’t quite big enough to conceal your dissolution into grief.
Simply, I’m a person too, and I want to help.
This is the last in the Who We Are Speaking of Series for December 2018. Please submit details and contact information for your favorite funeral director to be placed in the spotlight for future series to email@example.com. Thanks!
Learn more about what your funeral professional does everyday by reading “Speaking of the dead” order your copy today!
This series is meant to highlight beautiful funeral directors. Too many times we see and hear the media focus on the horrible things that happen in the funeral industry. I am here to prove that there is more good in our industry than bad. Every story in this series is written by the directors themselves.
Dennis K. Wesley
Dennis is the business owner of Funeral Directors First Call. He has been in the funeral industry for 26 years serving many independent and corporate firms with support services. He began his career in a small-town funeral home doing 150 calls a year. He owned a seasonal business and always had an interest in the funeral industry. He has been married for 31 years to Bobbie and has a 25-year-old daughter Tori. He is really into older cars, photography and enjoying great bands.
I think that the service we provide is like what a priest does for his congregation. We are called upon to do a scared task of helping the loved ones get through a horrible time. I have a desire to help people and there is no better way than funeral service. Helping families get through the worst few days possibly of their lives.
I think all funeral professionals probably work way too many hours. I honestly have a problem with knowing when to stop and go home. I am very involved in my church and volunteer in many charities around Baltimore. That helps me relax and get up for the next call.
Years ago I was working for the medical examiner’s office and received a suicide call on Christmas morning 2006. I arrived to find a 9-year-old little girl who had hung herself. She had been abused by her stepdad and had begged her mother to make him stop. I can still remember getting her down and I was determined not to put her in a body bag. I had the mother come down and I let her say goodbye. I then proceeded to carry her lifeless body up the stairs and I turned my head and the stepfather was holding her little sister consoling her. That was a moment in my career that I saw the good and the bad of our industry. People don’t realize what we have to deal with on a daily basis. My Christmas will never be the same.
The funeral profession is not full of rich men and women who drive fancy Cadillac and Lincoln automobiles. We are everyday people who devote their life to serving the dead and their families. We are secretaries, lawn mowers, priest, counselors, police officers, painters, make-up artist, surgeons and everything else. We do all types of jobs in our duties as funeral professionals.
If you know of a funeral director who would fit in this series please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with who the person is and contact information. This series is planned to run each week in December but I may run another series again in the future.
This series is meant to highlight beautiful funeral directors. Too many times we see and hear the media focus on the horrible things that happen in the funeral industry. I am here to prove that there is more good in our industry than bad. Every story in this series is written by the directors themselves.
Bonnie Dalberg Ansley
Bonnie began working in the funeral industry in 2006. Her titles have included funeral director assistant, office manager, embalmer, funeral director, décor specialist and manager. Currently she holds a funeral director and embalmer license in Georgia.
How did you get into the industry?
At the age of 22, I lived in Augusta, Georgia working multiple jobs while majoring in biochemistry. My father had suffered from chest pains while mowing the yard. After resting inside a bit, he was taken to the local VA hospital and was told he was in the middle of a heart attack and needed an emergency triple bypass. The surgery went well, but infection soon set in – his entire body had lost all it’s natural color, the open incision on his chest had turned green and purple and I naturally thought he was going to die. I’ve encountered death before with classmates, a SIDS baby from my mother’s daycare and even extended family, but up to this point, never that close to heart. I was devastated and thought “What do I do? Who do I turn to? What will happen when he dies?” Thankfully, he recovered, but the impact of the trauma was so deep. When he was strong enough, I made the decision that I wanted to be the one to take care of my dad. I want to be the one to take care of everyone I loved and make sure they are taken care of the right way. I moved to Atlanta within weeks to attend Gupton Jones and the rest is history.
This industry is hard, why do you do your job every day?
Because I make a difference in this world. I work with intense passion and give my full talents and drive to each family I serve. I see it on their faces, I hear it in their voices and I feel it when they embrace me.
What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part are the moments when I can take heartache and refocus it towards something positive. For example, a family is riddled with anxiety and fear the first time that they enter their visitation room. In their minds, they are expecting a dimly lit room filled with antique furniture and their loved one without any life in them. What if, instead, the doors opened to reveal a room filled with that person’s joy? A vignette against that wall overflowing with Elvis paraphernalia, and over there, a mannequin showcasing a vintage 50’s style dress, her favorite color can be found everywhere from backdrops to artwork to up lighting. “Love Me Tender” is playing in the background and as they move closer to her, she’s dressed not in her Sunday best, but rather what people were used to seeing – jeans, a sweatshirt and her infamous fire engine red lipstick. Now this… this is mom and she would’ve loved this. Every attention to detail has been made for the family. A framed photo of her family’s business is on display; there are Elvis ornaments to celebrate not only her love of “The King” but also her love of Christmas… this is all done without the family having to haul her personal belongings to the funeral home or any cumbersome work involved. It was something created from someone who truly listened to the family and was able to capture enough of their loved one’s happiness into aesthetics that affect all their senses – taste (red velvet cupcakes to match her fiery personality and red lipstick), sight (all the visuals tastefully on display), sound (uplifting music), touch (holding the Elvis keepsakes in memory of “her”) and smell (Christmas tree air fresheners were placed inconspicuously around the room to fill the air with that crisp tree smell).
How do you balance work and home life, what do you do for self-care?
Self-care is something that I have struggled with throughout my whole career. Life is an ever-changing journey and I am currently refocusing on my physical health at the moment. I am down 32 lbs and counting.
Outside of work what are your hobbies/interests?
General merriment – eating, drinking, dancing or karaoke with good people and an uber driver when the night is over.
Tell us about your family, kids, spouses, pets etc.
My family is not traditional, but then again, whose is anymore? My immediate family consists of my husband, Kyle, my fat little Chihuahua, Vlad, my german shepherd mix, Greta, and exotic “sea creatures” throughout the house. I have so many people that are mutually considered family and it continues to grow. I would trust my life to so many others and for that, I am blessed.
Tell a story about a family you have served, or body prepared that was especially significant to you personally
I remember serving a small family – there was the deceased and his wife. The gentleman worked for Coca-Cola for decades and lived, breathed and of course, drank, Coca-Cola. Everything was personalized in that Bonnie fashion where we focused on his love and passions. I and the staff wore Coca-Cola clothing instead of suits, there was Coca-Cola paraphernalia everywhere that the public was present and at the very end of the service, I passed out cokes and diet cokes so that everyone could toast to this amazing man as I played the original 1971 commercial of “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.” The wife was grateful to experience so much love for her husband in an unexpected place, she has since continued to stay in touch with me.
What message would you like to give to the public about our profession?
The public image of a funeral director is terribly misguided. We do not make six figures, I mean, I do drive a Cadillac…hearse that is and then my Nissan home. We are not all the vampiric, pale men in a dusty suit hiding in the shadows – hello, I’m a perky, Asian American female in her mid 30’s. We do not manipulate defenseless widows into overspending for an elaborate service. I listen to what my family’s wants are. After all, they are the ones in charge and I am only here to offer solutions. I don’t care if someone is spending $1,000 or $10,000 – they deserve the same treatment and respect from me and that is what I provide. Funeral directors wear many hats, but I assure you, con artist is not one of them.
If you know of a beautiful funeral director who would fit in this series please send me an email (email@example.com) with who the person is and contact information. This series is planned to run each week in December but I may run another series again in the future.