Many people are curious about what goes on behind the scenes at a funeral home. Add a live-in family to this scenario, and you'll Step Into Our Lives at the Funeral Home. Shh! Be quiet! There's someone at the door! Don't ever talk about anything you have seen or heard concerning someone's death outside the walls of our home. Mourning families need to know they can trust our integrity and our ability to keep confidentiality. For the author's family, these admonitions were ingrained in the children's minds at an early age. This book gives an insightful view of every facet of the funeral, from the time a death call is received until the funeral is completed. Stories of days in the ambulance business in conjunction with the funeral home are also related. The funeral director's role, the spouse's role, the children's role, and how the children thrived in an atmosphere of death are shared with the reader. How funeral directors cope with stress and how wives cope with their husbands during these times are revealed. Years later, following a tragic death, three people look back and share their stories of moving from despair to recovery. Interspersed through every chapter are stories and vignettes shared by many funeral directors throughout the Midwest, concerning the lifestyle for the family living in the funeral home and true incidents of specific funerals. Some stories are sad. Others are tragic. A few are humorous. Embracing faith, hope, and love is a primary requisite for healing. Intended audience: General readers of all ages, funeral home directors, hospice patients, mortuary students, and people who have had a loved one die by natural means or tragedy.
The introduction highlights two coincidences that demonstrate my gullibility concerning death and dying, and what life would be like married to a funeral director.
CHAPTER 1—IN THE BEGINNING
Moving from the rejection of owning and living in a funeral home to accepting that active role as a funeral director's spouse took time and family deaths to change our life's direction.
CHAPTER 2—WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE DIES
Pick-up of the body to the finalization of arrangements for the funeral are depicted. Information is provided concerning cremation, organ donations and flat fees.
CHAPTER 3—VISITATIONS AND SERVICES
The need for mourners to feel a sense of peace and tranquility is important. The 'live-in' children provide many challenges as anecdotes are shared.
CHAPTER 4—THE DAY OF THE FUNERAL
A sequential account of what transpires on the day of the service is recalled. Unwanted appearances of funeral home children and/or pets are noted.
CHAPTER 5—GRIEVING THE LOSS
The acceptance of your loss, your hope for the future, and your spiritual renewal lie in your taking the painful journey through grief.
CHAPTER 6—THE PAIN OF SUICIDE
One person's self-destruction has a 'trickle down' effect on survivors. Suggestions to help assuage family members' grief are included.
CHAPTER 7—FAMILY LIFE STYLE
Family members share their stress of what living around death entails—missed vacations, lack of privacy, being quiet, and how it often affects future career plans of children.
CHAPTER 8—THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR'S ROLE
The qualities that are expected and demanded of a funeral director and the effect of these specific characteristics on other family members are noted.
CHAPTER 9—A SPOUSE REMEMBERS "OOOH!
How can you have your husband touch you after he has been working on a body?" The day-to-day life of handling such degrading remarks, parental duties and funeral home obligations are included.
CHAPTER 10—HOW OUR CHILDREN THRIVED
Living in a home with plenty of love and a measure of normalcy help children thrive when death surrounds their homes.
CHAPTER 11—STRESS TAKES ITS TOLL
Coping with depression, anger, health issues, worry, disappointments, remorse and sadness are emotions that affect many members of a funeral family and need resolution.
CHAPTER 12—GROWN CHILDREN RECALL THE PAST
As adults, our grown children reminisce concerning their lives in the funeral home as they remember them.
CHAPTER 13—LOOKING BACK
Three people share their stories of despair followed by their painful journeys to recovery. They offer helpful advice to others who may find themselves in similar circumstances.
Death and dying are events that are inevitable for everyone. Viewing death with hope of eternal life can help people enjoy life and not fear the future.
A brief follow-up of what happened to our family and the paths each of us chose to follow are shared.
APPENDIX A—Sample Obituary Online
APPENDIX B—Helpful Information for Family to Know