Boy life is different; the paths and journeys we take change our outlooks, our ideas, and our innovations. As these things fluctuate, so does our mental health. It always seems that around the holidays we tend to look back and reflect on our year. I tend to do a self-audit just to even myself out. When I considered writing on the topic, I found myself asking myself three questions— why is what we do so labor intensive? Why is what we do mentally draining? Why is what we do so hard? The short answer to those questions is this “Funeral Service doesn’t wait,” and this becomes even more apparent during the holidays. When others are planning their meals, and shopping for presents, we cannot be so concrete.
“Funeral service doesn’t wait” is a statement that I have recently fallen in love with because it describes my week. It describes the debates with my wife, it explains the important moments missed for others. This phrase is the look on my kid’s face when I tell them I have to leave to go to work at odd hours. It’s a phrase that explains a lot but yet is so simple. It’s hard to understand I guess if you are not in the trenches day in and day out. My modern-day stressors are extremely tough to explain to those that are not in the industry. Remember what we do is different from most.
At 8 am Thanksgiving Day you walk into your prep room and the call from 5 am is on the table ready for embalming. You’re the first one at work so you get started, working carefully but thinking ahead about meeting the rest of your family. Then, without fail, you get about halfway done with your first embalming and two more come in. With thoughts of mashed potatoes in your head, the family of one of your cases walks in, because hey, they were together eating dinner so they thought they’d swing by for arrangements.
“Funeral Service doesn’t wait, even for the Lions or Cowboys games.”
For instance, let’s just say you are supposed to get off work at 4 and be at Christmas Eve Dinner at 4:30 after picking up your youngest child but a death call comes at 3:50. A phone call is made with your spouse and a spirited debate ensues, and it’s the same argument you have at least twice a week if not more. “I’m sorry, I can’t get the kid and I am going to be late.” Unfortunately, this time, the discussion puts a damper on any holiday cheer.
“Funeral service doesn’t wait, not even for Santa”
There are so many of these situations that funeral directors and embalmers could talk about. So many different situations that make what we do very hard. These are those moments that make what we do so hard. Missing the holiday swim meets because you are serving a family on a Saturday. The verbal judo that ensues with your partner from you not being there. You come into work to find a funeral director calling in sick and he has a service that morning, which will add to a mental breakdown. There are so many things that have to go right within funeral service. I feel at times a constant anxiety whether that be at work with your superiors, or maybe it is when serving the family, or at home when its been a long day and you just want peace. Sometimes you feel like everyone is let down.
Time is something now as I have surfed the waves of funeral service that I cherish so much more than I ever did. As I sit and watch my kids grow up I realize how much time I don’t have left, and how many experiences I have missed helping serve another family. Time is something that means so much more to me. It’s an interesting realization when you realize there isn’t anymore. Time is precious, your personal time, family time, professional time, all of it, and with what we do we see how time can quickly expire. This is the best decision I have ever made. I love being a Funeral Director/Embalmer. Yes, our career choice is different from most, and face challenges that many could not handle but we left foot and right foot through it. The statement “funeral service doesn’t wait” applies to all of us and affects us all professionally and personally. During the holidays hug your spouse a little tighter, love your kids and parents a little harder, appreciate your colleagues, and treat yourself because you deserve it.
I love what I do and feel that a service is being provided to not only the family but also the community. I love my family and enjoy spending quality time with them, but we all know our time gets sacrificed
It’s hard, it’s labor Intensive, and it can drain you……
As you go into the holidays let us remember that we are not alone. As my friend Brian Waters says “we sometimes feel like we are on an island all alone.” It doesn’t have to be that way. This profession is full of people who are willing to give a helping hand when needed. I find that having that soundboard can be very helpful. The opportunities in funeral service are endless, sometimes we just need to open our eyes and realize the opportunity.
The best decision you will ever make is to be a funeral director.
Remember though, funeral service doesn’t wait.