We are embedded in funerals and burials in this industry. At times, the reality of a death may be unintentionally diluted unless we are personally affected. When death personally affects me, the snap back into the reality of death is powerful and I can't help but to ponder the importance of this business.
There was a sudden death in our community of an owner of a popular bicycle store, Jeff, who was very active in the cycling world. He died doing what he loved - cycling - and it was an unfortunate, tragic accident. This morning, at the end of a spinning class with other active cyclists in our area, I heard the instructor and an attendee talking about Jeff's funeral, which is being held this weekend. The person in the class was commenting to the instructor about how RELIEVED she was that there was going to be a funeral mass for him. RELIEVED... I felt is was an odd word to equate to her feelings about this death. As they talked further, they both said how important it was that there was going to be a ceremony, in the form of a funeral, rather than nothing at all, or by the family doing something on their own. Her relief was due to the fact that she needed to be surrounded by people who were celebrating this life and acknowledging the death. I heard the word "closure" from both of them and didn't hear much more. Regardless of the sad circumstances, this conversation actually helped to start my day in a positive way because it reinforced to me that our society does need closure and it does need to cry and it does need to grieve and it does need a final resting place to be able to do this whenever the need arises in the future, too.
By being so embedded in the industry, this need for closure can get forgotten by hearing from people - and the media - that they feel our industry isn't needed, is fading or even worse, is full of crooks. I listen to people say that their kids won't come out to visit their grave, so why spend the money? I read obituaries that indicate that "no services will be held" per the request of the deceased. And sometimes, I fall into the cynicism of this mentality... thankfully only temporarily. All it takes is one "thank you for everything you've done" or a conversation like I overheard this morning to remember that this is a business like no other. It takes very special people to help carry forward the message about how imperative a funeral, closure and a final resting place is for those who are left behind after a death takes place. This applies to all deaths, not just the tragedies. Life, not matter how grandiose or simple it may have been lived, needs to be acknowledged. Please continue to drive this message to the families and communities you serve.