Monday, September 19, 2011

The Dark Side of Sod...1

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...

It happens...alot!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Don't forget about our Seniors.

Are we simply too busy to check in on someone that may live close to us whose age ranges from about 75 to 150 years old? There are a large number of folks in their late 80's, early 90's who still live independently in the neighborhoods they have resided in most of their life. The challenge is that our transient, fast paced world keeps us so focused on our own lives, we forget or don't think at all about checking on Seniors in our neighborhoods. So many of us don't even know who our neighbors are.

Meet John and Mary Stevens, they have lived in their home for 50 years and just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Most of their friends by now have preceded them in death. They have lost 2 of their 4 children. The 2 children still living reside in others states. Because Mary's health has been failing the past 5 years, John cares for her. He is devoted to her and will fulfill the promise he made to her 60 years ago..."in sickness and in health...til death do us part." He would not dream of letting anyone else care for her. They used to attend a local church and had been members there 50 years, but due to her health, he doesn't leave her alone. The neighborhood has become transient with folks moving in and out, they just keep to themselves. No one visits regularly, they feel abandoned. They definitely do not want to impose on anyone. John's health is now failing also, he has forsaken his own health to care for his wife.

This is just one small example of what is happening in our culture today. What can be done to help those elders in our areas so that they do not get to the point of helplessness? What about those that have lost a spouse and are all alone? Who checks on them? If you know of someone who you feel may need assistance, please drop in periodically to see if they need anything or are OK.  We simply cannot not offer our help to those that may not ever want to ask for it. Seniors are in their "Golden" years and should be treated like it...Gold. Be on the lookout for Seniors in your area and make it a point to check in on them.'ll be a Senior yourself someday.

Make it a wonderful week...


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Introducing Barb's Blog...

Greetings to all...I hope this blog finds you well. My name is not Barb, but I use it because of Bonz as it is the name on the tombstone on the label of the bottle. Barb BQ Bonz being the person buried there, represents both side of sod...the Dark Side which is death and the Green side which is life. Hence the blog title...The Dark Side of Sod. The title will always remain the same.

Blogs seem to be effective tools to reach the masses about important issues. This blog, and the others to follow, will hopefully bring an awareness to all of us in a way that will enrich the way we live and think about our life cycle.

I want to begin at the end of the cycle. My experience as a funeral planner has been a motivator for me to not "beat around the bush" about the subject of death. Death needs to come out of the closet so to speak. A convenient place where we keep it until someone we know dies. Then we're forced to "deal" with it. But who knows how and what does that mean exactly. Some handle the process well, and others...well, not so much. It is obvious that there are countless questions, big misunderstandings about the funeral process, and how money is making the decisions. But I've found that when the questions are answered, and folks are able to embrace death like every other aspect of their life, they LIVE better as a result.

I would like to get your feedback along the way, and would encourage your interaction to the subject matter in each blog so that your questions or comments can be addressed as well. We are coming into a different time in terms of how lives are being remembered. Celebrations are happening more frequently. The focus is moving from HOW someone died, to HOW someone lived. This is exciting because that's where the legacy resides. We need to cultivate healthy survivors after the passing of a special someone. Because those survivors are indeed our future. So in essence through this blog and others, the goal to bridge the gap and bring a new acceptance about the most natural part of life we know as human beings...death, we together can achieve peace of mind, a greater understanding and deeper appreciation for our lives...whatever that is.

Make it the best day!

Julie Pope
AKA Barb