For a brief time, when I was a young funeral director, I had license plates on my car which read DOA-RIP. Admittedly, I thought they were clever and set me apart. The plates garnered mention in a few newspapers, and other funeral directors who read about –or saw–them were not amused. In fact, they chided me for mocking a sacred calling. I turned in the plates.
In retrospect, my choice of license plates was immature and foolish. Yet, by what we see today, they were mild. Web and social media sites of young, and not so young, funeral directors hawk all sorts of merchandise. Some of it is educational, and the Morte Girls applaud that. But other items are silly, or downright offensive. Recently, a colleague called our attention to a coffee mug she saw online emblazoned with the words “Death Happens.” She was very upset by what she saw. Our first thought was that it was a product a young funeral director found amusing, much as I had the license plates. Turns out, the mug is being hawked by a much older women — old enough to know better. But as our colleague said, “Wisdom doesn’t always come with age.”
Recently, we have been involved in several especially tragic funerals, and heard about others that were handled by respected colleagues. One of them was a young mother, who died of a brain tumor, another a 29-year-old athlete who collapsed and died at practice, and yet another about a man who fell down the stairs, to his death, at a family function. Imagine, if you will, that coffee mug being on one’s desk as these arrangements were being made. Actually, it is unimaginable. Such a flip and uncaring phrase has no place in funeral service — not even behind the scenes.