Many think of a funeral home as a somber, depressing place. However, the word “home” means it is a place of comfort and a place that brims with life rather than death. “Funerals are for the living” is a commonly known truth. Families who come to a funeral home are often tired from the events leading up to their loved one’s death. Sometimes they are traumatized by a sudden death, and sometimes people come to a funeral home to express support, encouragement, and respect for friends. Meeting each person’s needs can be overwhelming, but it is an honor and, in many ways, a positive challenge.
In this book, I want to share what it is like to be the person who comforts others, lightens their mood, encourages them, and helps them make decisions when they can sometimes barely think. In my case, the role of a funeral director is one that dates back to childhood. I was a “preacher’s kid” who accompanied my father to many funerals. Sometimes afterward, especially if a pet had died, I would carry out a funeral in my own back yard, using my bicycle for a hearse, a tiny box for a casket, and garden flowers to decorate a grave.
I chose to attend Mortuary College while working at a funeral home and found the work to be fulfilling. Since my first job at a funeral home, I have been amazed at how the human condition plays out in this comforting place. People share memories at a funeral home, they express grief through tears and laughter, and they sometimes return to say thanks to the funeral director who helped them find meaning after a loss. A funeral director is always blessed with families who become regular clientele when they suffer loss, thus a funeral director creates a following and close bond of friendships built on trust and a thankful heart. I hope you enjoy sharing with me in Looking Back to many of my experiences in my life’s work in my hometown of Anniston, Alabama.