On Being Married to a Funeral Director: Ten Things
This list was made with a little help from my wife and my mom.
If you marry a funeral director / embalmer, it’s possible that they’ve been trained in the art of cosmetology. It’s also possible that they’re better than you at makeup. I’m not saying I do my wife’s makeup, but I could (although she’d have to be laying down).
Your children might be morbid
Our four-year-old plays made up a game where he lays down on a blanket, I pick up the four corners of the blanket and heave him on my back. He didn’t name this “game” something cute, like “blanket” or “Big, strong, Dad” game. Being the son of an undertaker, he called it “casket”.
He’s always interested in dead things, from dead animals to dead insects.
He works at the funeral home on occasion, working the front door during the viewing because he “wants to help dead people.”
He’s a bit more morbid than an average four-year-old, a normality that a funeral director’s spouse must come to expect.
Subjected to funeral jokes
“I bet people are dying to see your husband.’
“How’s Caleb’s work? Dead?”
Nicki’s heard them all. Time and time and time and time again.
We’re not always around for important events
We follow Death’s chaotic schedule. Death’s schedule sometimes means that we miss holidays, anniversaries and birthdays. This aspect of being married to a funeral director is easily one of the more difficult ones to accept.
Every marriage struggles with communication, but my marriage communication problems are somewhat uniquely created by my profession.
Grieving people often speak in a more emotive and less verbal language, causing us funeral directors to too often rely on our non-verbal communication skills. I’ve learned to read people’s face, emotions, and various cues, which hasn’t always strengthened my verbal communication. At the beginning of our marriage, I tried to “read” Nicki too often and I often assumed she should “read” me. Telepathy isn’t real, people, even for funeral directors who think they possess it.
Constant funeral questions
“I heard the Wildes are burying that 22-year-old girl. That’s so tragic. Do you know how she died?”
“Hey Nicki. Gertrude McDonald was my aunt. When’s her funeral again?”
“Do you know if Bob Johnson was embalmed or cremated?”
“Have you ever been in the morgue?”
Nicki doesn’t work at the funeral home, but everyone she bumps into thinks she knows EVERYTHING that’s going on at the funeral home.
Everywhere. All over the house.
This is particular to me. I need “me time” after a long day at the funeral home. Sometimes that means sitting around and doing nothing, but mostly it means going to the gym, driving my car or something that lets my mind wander into the beauty of nothing. There’s too much meaning at the funeral home and I really need small retreats into meaninglessness. And Nicki’s learned to give me that space.
I don’t think anything ever prepared Nicki for mortician’s table talk. On the other hand, she claims it’s the best diet she’s ever had … nothing kills the appetite like a little shop talk.
We’re a bunch of fun
Being aware of mortality makes us very fun in the moment. Sure, there’s dark, negative and sad aspects to being married to a funeral director. Some of us don’t know how to handle this life and so the mortician life can destroy our personal and marital lives. But, many of us have learned how to use all the dark for good. We live hard, love hard and make damn sure our marriages are of loads of fun.