Even Funeral Directors Die
Today’s guest post comes from the innovative Jeff Staab. Jeff was a funeral director for 20 years; and eventually translated that experience to his entrepreneurial enterprise “Cremation Solutions”. Jeff has produced the fringe Personal Urns and has recently introduced the beautiful and innovative “Your Touch Portraits.” Jeff brings a creative spark to the funeral industry. Check out his line and give him a “Like” on Facebook.
Sometimes during our lives, there are occasions when realizations hit us so suddenly and with such force that we’re left feeling dumbfounded. In one such instance, a funeral director friend was discussing a family’s loss with them when he came to the abrupt realization that he was terribly uncomfortable with the idea of his own mortality. He worried that as long as he held this discomfort, it would come across to the families he spoke with.
When he talks with the distraught families who have come to him for comfort and guidance, they will be able to sense, at least on some level, that he hasn’t even come to terms with his own mortality. How would he be able to help them? And what business does he have in providing them with advice in dealing with their loved one’s demise?
Turns out that many funeral directors have not made any of their own plans to die. I was at a recent presentation in a room of a hundred or so funeral directors and the presenter asked how many in the room had made their own pre-arrangements. Only a handful of hands went up! You would think that being reminded of death everyday would cause some insightful planning. Funeral directors deal with the subject of death for a living, but many of them are discomfited by talking about their own deaths.
Most often, people who are bothered by the thought of their mortality and haven’t considered what happens after death aren’t going to feel okay talking about it. Discuss it with your own loved ones, plan out your personal funeral or draw up a living will. When families come into your funeral home for guidance, ask them what they believe happens after death. Many will feel comfort and relief at discussing it with you. This can also help you be more compassionate and sensitive toward them while they’re planning their loved one’s funeral. In the end planning your own funeral can only help you relate to the families you serve every day.
Unfortunately, the topic of death is a taboo in modern society, particularly in the Western world. One may occasionally hear such things discussed briefly during religious services, but other than that, it’s something that we’re taught not to think or speak openly about. Regardless of this taboo, death is natural and it inevitably happens to everyone, so it’s good to consider the topic of your own death in order to help yourself, and therefore others, come to terms with it. Here are some of the things that you might want to consider.
Unease With Your Mortality
There are many reasons for being ill-at-ease with the idea of dying. Maybe you went through something traumatic and life-altering like an accident. Maybe death was never spoken of in your family. Perhaps, as is often the case, your particular faith paints death in a negative and fear-ridden light. Before you can accept the fact of your own mortality, it’s important to identify why you’re uncomfortable with it in the first place.
What Happens When You Die?
People fear what they don’t understand, and the topic of death is not immune from this fact. Most people fear dying because they feel uncertain about what happens afterward. Therefore, the most common reaction is to ignore the question entirely and resign yourself to crossing that bridge when you get to it. Although it may be uncomfortable or confusing, thinking about what happens after death can be excellent brain exercise. Ask your friends and loved ones what they think. This topic is also richly discussed both in books and online and can offer some helpful ideas and insights. Similarly, you can discuss it with a pastor or other religious advisor.
Are You Comfortable Speaking About Your Own Death?
When you have a set idea of what happens after your own death, you’ll be better equipped to handle losses in your own life as well as others. Individuals who have beliefs about what comes after are better able to cope with death than those who have no such beliefs. In many cases, the hardest part of dealing with the death of a friend or loved one is facing the unknown, so having some idea can make you feel less distraught.
Studies have shown that people who are unsure of how they view death may occasionally reject their current religious beliefs. In some cases, they’ll adopt an old set of beliefs or look for another form of spiritual guidance or teaching. Some of them may turn bitter and angry while others opt to live a life in service to others by volunteering and donating money, time, advice or assistance. The thing that all of these people have in common is that they’re seeking to make sense of death and find greater meaning in being alive.
After someone makes sense of a particular experience with death, either from a religious perspective or by assigning some other meaning to it, that person is usually able to move on. Many people who have personally dealt with such grief say that there are good things about it. They got through the experience, and after great contemplation on the frailty of life and what it means to them, they came out of it with a different way of looking at that life.