One year later.

spongebob

Once again, I’m slacking. I can’t seem to find the time (or effort) to get on here and jot things down. I didn’t even check, but I’m pretty sure it’s been months since I last posted on here. I will just summarize the last couple of months, and the highs and lows.

We were all geared up and excited for our newest member to join the team. He had been a prep room supervisor since 2001. He had been in the business in some way, shape, or form since 1999. He spoke Spanish (major plus). Most importantly, HE was excited to come on board and learn everything, since he hadn’t worked as many services or met with families.

The day he was supposed to start, he was late, and we were all a little perplexed. Most new employees make it a point to show up early on their first day; maybe he was stuck in traffic? Gave him a call and he says, “Didn’t you check your email?”

Apparently, he emailed us the a noon the previous day to say that his old job basically gave him an “offer he couldn’t refuse”. They created a position for him and paid him more than us, so he wasn’t going to be coming aboard.

We were all disappointed. This was our missing piece. This was the relief my manager and I were looking for. Only being the two of us for the last year is burning us out.

Back to square one.

On a more positive note: families love me. I love working with them too. I was told the other day that I come off very “confident”, and I seem to have a way about me that people think I’ve been doing this for years; not just 1 year. That makes me feel good. Backs me up in thinking this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

This isn’t to say that I don’t doubt myself, or mess up, or have the occasional difficult family, because I do. There’s times when I get done with my day, and I go home and vent about how impossibly difficult people make my job sometimes. That’s a given with any service related job though.

And since I haven’t been on here in a while, I can officially say I’ve been at Chapel of Memories Funeral Home for 1 year. My anniversary was January 31st, and my apprenticeship anniversary was February 21st. In one year I’ve met with many families, and I have embalmed or assisted embalming 76 cases (only 24 more to meet the total needed in the 2 years!). I’m more confident now. I feel comfortable in arrangements, but there’s still the occasional “lemme go ask someone” moments.

With all this hustle and bustle, my anxiety goes along with it. I’ve actually had to break down and get medication for my insomnia and anxiety. I take it on my on-call nights, so I can try and get some restful sleep. I even went to a counseling session (and have another scheduled in another week) to discuss healthy ways of relieving stress. I thought it was going to be a weird session, but I found it to be super helpful, so I’m going to continue it for now. But getting that third person to help us out would really bring down my stress levels too.

I didn’t want to right too much, just a catch up of what I can think of that went down over the last couple months. I really will try and keep this up so the entries aren’t so spaced out, and there’s more of a sense of flow, rather than a block of random time.

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Just another blog entry.

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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.