Gwendolyn Masters is a funeral director, and has been since the 80's. She believes that she absolutely has not seen or heard everything. That everyday she will sit with a person or family and will learn just another way people (human beings) think and live, and die. Her family is solid, spread out...but solid. But the mission she has, is to be a bridge between death and life. Ushering the physical remains of someones family member, someones friend, neighbor or co- worker to ultimately their final resting place. And helping those surviving get through the process. Funeral service to her is much like a professional who works in a maternity ward. She's simply on the other end, she refers to it as eternity ward. When someones born and when someone dies...either way, lives are changed forever. Yes, it's a job and she gets paid to go to the funeral home, meet with families, orchestrate funeral services...but compassion and the desire to serve fellow man is good karma and the right thing to do.
The profession has seen a huge swing in the direction of simple services, that the extended visitation for the surviving community doesn't work for folks anymore. Everybody seems to be in a hurry. Based on thousands of families, services, burials, cremations, embalmings etc, hurrying through the process doesn't seem to work down the road. It's because people don't understand they are in the "dead zone", a place where details aren't re callable, conversations that took place have no memory. This period of time can go on a number of months after the death of someone. Only someone who works in this type of environment daily can see the differences. There is a place for funeral directors in this world and the quest to bridge a gap while a person is in the zone continues. To be a sounding board...comfort... problem solver and trusted adviser to those in a difficult and vulnerable time helps to satisfy the mission. Welcome to Gwyn's world...the Dark Side of Sod.
When meeting with a family after someone has died, heartfelt conversations about death, recalling life experiences and some good, some bad. Baby boomers are now at the age where they are thinking more and more about their mortality. Death is a thought that crosses their mind often if not daily. But a "sad funeral" is not what they want. What they don't realize is that fearing the funeral director and feeling like they can't celebrate, or be upbeat, or celebrating one's meaning of life is a misunderstanding today. Listening to the needs of the community, the voice and desires of immediate family members calls for flexibility from the director. Successful directors today get this. Just because things have been done that way for years doesn't mean that change shouldn't be considered. As a professional in death service, it is concerning that some of my friends may not make it after years of service. I am absolutely amazed and disgusted at others in the profession that have taken advantage of people. Virtually stealing their money, not to mention defaming death and the emotions people go through when they have just lost a part of their life. So damage control is done to hopefully turn around the impression of me...some without ever meeting me before, that funeral directors are trustworthy. I am always relieved when I get a death call that the family has already taken the steps to discuss and plan out the details of the funeral. They are much better emotionally than those where death was never going to happen to them. It's always interesting when instead of tears...some people still fight in the family...even in death. I have a feeling that the war will unfortunately continue. This family was a non-planning family, and the death was sudden, a suicide, the teenager was 17...