Saturday, August 1, 2009

...across the room to quote Mark Twain...

"Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."

This quote reminded me of my days in the funeral service industry. One of my favourite aspects of my duties as a funeral director was to help families write an obituary. I was always disappointed when they offered to write their own! With experience I developed my own way of getting the information I needed to come up with a write-up that would be honoring to the deceased and a special keep sake for the family. Through family feed back I also realized that this exercise was healing for them as they laughed and cried their way through memories and special events they related to me.
Sometimes of course I was given information that was not conducive to printing in the local newspaper and editing would be necessary. Death can bring to light the most awful truths in a family. Like a secret mistress who suddenly feels she has some rights and needs to participate in the funeral proceedings. I could write a book on the terrible things that people sometimes have to deal with in addition to the loss of their family member!
Thankfully though, the norm was to meet with families who had a good relationship with their loved one. I have always loved biographies and auto biographies so it was just natural for me to listen to families reminisce and talk about their loved one. As they talked I would make notes and ask questions. I preferred to do the write-up after they left the funeral home. It meant that I didn't have to hurry but more importantly, I would usually make an appointment with them to meet at their house so that we could look at it together and I could see where and how they lived. Often by the time I had their stamp of approval to send it to print i would find myself telling them "I really wish I could have known your "loved one"! Many times I just knew I would have enjoyed knowing that person.
Every person has a story to tell. Another aspect of funeral service is to prearrange funerals for people. This is not nearly as intense or sad because nothing has happened yet. There has been no loss. I remember one couple in particular who came to see me in the office to prearrange their funerals. We laughed and talked as we made all the arrangements. Later she told me that when she went home she called her sister and told her "We made our funeral prearrangements today and did we every have a great time! You should go too!" Her sister's response was "You are crazy!"
Often as I heard people's life stories I would tell them "Why have you not written a book about your life!" There are some amazing stories and heroes living right in our neighbourhoods! Do you know your neighbour? Your might be very surprised at their life story! These are the people I got to meet, know and enjoy before their time on earth is up!
Have you ever wondered about your story? Have you ever tried to write your life story or at least a certain aspect of it? It's a great exercise to get it down on paper even if it is just for your own eyes. You may just start dancing for JOY and THANKSGIVING for the life that you have. Or it could help you sort out some of your difficulties if you are experiencing struggles. There's nothing like seeing your life in black and white to gain insight, provide clarity, and pave the way for tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

I LOVE your insight! SO many times I have wondered what my obituary will look like! Will it read like I would want it to? Will people remember me in the way I would want them too? Sometimes I think it would be a GREAT exercise to have a group of ladies write obituaries about each lady in the group. (Of course the ladies would have to know each other to some degree of familiarity!) Wouldn't THAT be an interesting "study" to be in?!


Elayne said...

There's always next summer Renita!! LOL (the group might turn out to be quite small?) I'm thinking many would not feel comfortable doing that? I agree, it would be a great exercise!