Death never takes a holiday. At whatever time of year a death takes place, it will leave a permanent reminder in those left behind. Around any of the holidays it’s also a painful reminder of the “empty seat”.
My own father’s death took place on Christmas Day. He had been sick for several days but my family and I did not anticipate his death any time soon. We saw him on Christmas Eve as I had to work on Christmas Day at the funeral home. While there embalming on Christmas morning, I received a call from the hospital that he was not doing well and we should come. I contacted my family and within the hour I was at the hospital. But as I approached his room, I could hear my daughter crying and the beeping of the machines. I walked back to the nurses station and was a little annoyed with the conversation I had with the nurse who had called me. She kept saying, “I told him don’t die it’s Christmas” and that he had been asking for me. I walked away to go to his room and shortly my sister and her family arrived. We spent a little time with him and then we left, I to go to the funeral home to complete the work I had to do and my sister to her home where we would meet later in the day. Later in the week he had the “funeral directors” funeral. And yes, we celebrated but it was still a funeral, a time to say good bye. He had his Army uniform on and many “personalized” reminders of the career he had as a mortuary science educator and old school funeral director for more than half his life. The ultimate closure to this life story was a champagne toast at the end of his service. It was beautiful.
Funeral directors today are often portrayed as villains and no longer relevant. I can tell you there is nothing further from the truth for the vast majority of us. Even in our own difficult time, we often sacrifice our families because we know that someone else needs our help. It is an honor to help families through one of the worst times of their lives. Merry Christmas.
** This beautiful picture of candlelit cemetery in Finland is from: