“I don’t want to see her body!”

“I can’t, I can’t!” screams the 30 year old mother of two

with trembling body and clouded mind.

Her grandmother, once familiar, now foreign.

Hands cold, lips shut.

Eyes closed with glue.

A body that once embodied love

now fear.

Once comfort, now pain.

Her parents urge her again . . .

“I don’t want to see her!”

The protestations echo though the walls and down to our bones


“What’s going on?” “WHATS GOING ON?!”

asks the protester’s two year old daughter.

Her small voice isn’t lost in the noise.

Her four-year-old brother quickly hugs her

and whispers

“It’s okay”

She finds calm in his arms.


I listen.

I watch.


The stampede of grief settles like dust.

The two year old drops her crackers on the floor.

Her protesting mother picks them up one by one

“Let me throw them out.” I say.

“You never know what kind of germs are on a funeral home floor.”

The humor finds a small crack

that allows laughter instead of tears.

A kind word and a touch of humor.

A moment later, she straightens her back.

Wipes her face.

Grabs the hands of her children

She walks to the casket.

Listening to the screams of a bereaved mother

I write this as I’m listening to a mother frantically scream, “That’s my baby!!!” as she views the body of her deceased 24 year old son for the first time since his death.  She’s kicking




I write this as my own therapy … it’s hard to listen to.  It must be harder to be her.  I can’t imagine.

A Jewish couple who met in school, they were unable to have any kids of their own so they adopted what became their only son, now snatched away from an overdose.





My dad comes over to me.  We stare at each other for about 30 seconds in silence before he says, “Any mother would do that…”  It’s hard to listen to.  There’s nothing to say at these times, yet everything wants to be said.

*As with all my posts, circumstances, dates and details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

When “I’m Sorry” isn’t enough. An apology for the misdeeds of the funeral profession.

A scene from the  Tri-State Crematory

A scene from the Tri-State Crematory

We’ve screwed up.

Committed sacrilege.

Tri- State crematory. 

334 uncremated bodies left to the elements and the animals making us look like monsters.

Two mummified babies found in the ceiling tiles of a funeral home.

Jessica Mitford.

The FTC. The Funeral Rule.

The price gouging. The emotional exploitation.

“I’m sorry” isn’t enough.

Even we can’t bury these dead bones.

One bad apple … but it hasn’t been just one.

A corporate guilt we must all eat.

I’ve been honest.  Most of us have been honest.

Compassionate to a fault.

Honorable. Transparent.

But the guilt is stitched on our chest like Hester Prynne.

We cover the letter with suits and ties

and fear and over-blown self-importance and self loathing and defensiveness.

“I’m sorry” isn’t enough.

When we earn your trust.

When we treat you fair.

When we act with compassion

When you see us, not as funeral directors

but as family.

Our service offers hope for redemption.

because “I’m sorry” isn’t enough.


The Trauma of Closing the Lid of the Casket

This is it.

The casket lid begins to quietly close

Your insides open and yell.

Your memories are now all you have.

There will be nothing new.

Your last look, your last touch

The beginning of your tears.

This is it.

Beliefs attempt to comfort

You cling to thoughts of a future hope

You will see them again.


Is this it?

The lid shuts.

You grab for something stable

You find an arm,

A hand

A hug.

A family member

A friend.

Two broken trees fall into each other

And hold up the other.

“Control it”, you tell yourself.

Forces beyond you like seismic shifts

Destroy what was once normal

Landscape rendered

Buildings destroyed

Death is creating the new normal

Tears wiped with waiting tissue

The lid is closed.

This is it.

I Carry Death

Tears in the produce aisle of Wal-Mart.

Hugs at the gas station.

An affectionate gaze at the pizza shop.

Created by death.

To you, I’m all the depth without any superficial.

The person who helped you walk through the shadow.

The person who stood with you as you said your last goodbye.

As the lid was closed, I was there.

I am not your friend.

I am not your bar buddy.

We will never talk sports, or politics or local gossip.

I am almost your brother.

Almost family.

I am your funeral director.

And I carry your death experience.

I carry in my own heart your grief, you insecurities, your hardest moment.

I remind you of him, of her … in many cases, I remind you of them.

I carry the depth.  Your deep is in me.

The depth of this community is my association.

Everywhere I go, I carry death.

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