This photo explains it all: yet another fucking blog post. Every time I come on here, I write how I let so much time go between updates or that I need to get on here more. Every time I write that, I hate myself just a little. Okay, hate is pretty strong, but I do get upset at myself. I always feel like I have more to say, or I have a point of view that people might want to hear, but then I get to writing my thoughts down and I realize I’m just another rambling idiot.
BUT, despite all my self loathing, I write. I write about my days and experiences because I want to look back and remember the moments I was experiencing. Although I may cringe at my terrible writing style, I still like to go back and read what I’ve written about on any particular day.
I don’t think I’m doing anything profound or important. Hell, I don’t even think people who are reading these actually give a shit about what I’m rambling on about, but it’s nice to know that someones reading and listening to my badly written journal entries.
Today is October 2nd, and I’ve been in the industry of death for over a year. I started at the other mortuary in September of last year, and began my stint here in January of this year. I’m realizing now that I’m just now finding my voice in this business.
I finally feel confident in arranging with families. I still get the occasional question that I don’t know how to answer, but I don’t feel as insecure about not knowing the answer. I had a friend of mine tell me that half the time he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s smiling and carrying himself like he’s got everything under control. He’ll tell families, “unless you see me freaking out, there’s nothing to worry about”, and then he’d immediately go in the office and freak the fuck out.
I’ve always had that kind of mindset, but I’ve never worked in a field where my composure means so much. If a family saw me freaking out at a service or during an arrangement, they’d question my abilities. I guess you could say that would apply to most any job, but I think there are few jobs on this level of stress and emotion. Families probably aren’t going to judge and question the clueless cashier at Target, but they’re sure as hell ready to sue for emotional damage when we screw the pooch.
Again, I ramble, but I think I say all this to say: I finally feel like a funeral director. I didn’t feel worthy to sign my name to a contract. I felt like a fraud. I felt like the families knew I was new, and I didn’t know what I was doing, and the sideways glances made it worse. Now, I feel a sense of confidence, and I finally have families looking at me like I’m the beacon of hope they were looking for. I have answers to their questions. I tend to get people feeling comfortable enough to laugh and joke and tell me stories about their loved ones, and it feels good.
Last week, I had a family who lost their husband/father. The wife has alzheimer’s and didn’t fully know everything that was going on, but her children were letting her help pick out the casket and the memorial folders. She would glance at me and have this puzzled look on her face. The children were talking amongst themselves and I was waiting patiently for their response to whatever question I had asked them. Every so often I caught her reading my face while I was glaceing between her three children. Then they;d look at me for an answer and I would confidently answer their question and smile. I looked right at the wife after answering a question and she seemed to relax at my answer. She may not remember much, but I think she could feel the certainty with which I was answering all their questions, and it seemed to have a calming affect over.
At the end of this particular arrangement, the family and I were chit-chatting for a couple minutes. The one daughter told me,”thank you so much for all your help in answering all our questions, you’ve just been such a big help for us” and I told her it was “no problem, it’s what I’m here for”. She thanked me again and said this whole process what new for their family and I made it easy for them. I told them that I was still new at this process too, so I was glad they felt comfortable.
They couldn’t believe that I was so new to this. The son said to me,”you’re new?! You don’t seem new at this!” And I told him that I just graduated school in December and had only been working here since January. The daughter then said to me,”well, you picked the right profession, you’re a natural at this and we need more people like you”.
*swells with pride*
It’s nice to feel confident in yourself, but it’s doubly nice to have someone else confirm those feelings. I was made to do this. I still sort of kick myself for waiting so long to find this career path. I love photography and art, but nothing has made me feel this happy and rewarded as working as a funeral director.
Finishing a decedents hair and makeup and leading a family into the room so they can see their loved one for the first time is nerve wracking to say the least. But when they come out of the room smiling through tears and telling me how good they looked, I feel amazing. I’m so happy I had a positive impact on their death experience. No one wants to cause more grief for a family (and if you do, you’re doing it wrong). Being able to bring a sense of calming to this chaotic time is a wonderful feeling. Whether it’s because I made their loved one look good, or I made them feel comfortable in the arrangement, or I made the service go smoothly, it all makes my job worth it.