Monday, November 17, 2008

Together Forever

When I was an apprentice, the directors told me a story that has shaped the way I view funerals and family requests to this day.
Sometimes it happens that two people who are very close die at nearly the same time. Maybe it's just the odds, like an adoptive couple concieving a child, or maybe once one dies, the other loses the will to continue. Whatever the case, we've all heard of times when one spouse dies and a week or month later, the other passes away too.In this case, a mother and child passed away within a day of each other. The child was an adult with a profoud developmental disability, and had been cared for lovingly for many years by her mother. The two were inseperable and their survivors wished to have the two buried as they had lived- together. Not only did the family want them in the same grave, but in the same casket. They asked their funeral director to help them with this and were told that it was illegal, and the funeral home could not assist them with their request.

Undeterred, the family called upon another funeral home and encountered a different attitude. Our funeral director told them that he would investigate, and that if it was possible they would follow the family's wishes.

As it turned out, the request was unusual, but did not violate any laws or regulations, and as long as the family members approved (they did,) mother and daughter could be together.

The directors embalmed the mother with her arm out so that she could hug her daughter close to her, and they were placed together in an oversize casket for their service and burial.

What was the difference between the two funeral directors? One saw a problem that wasn't worth pursuing, and the other saw the beauty and love behind this unusual request. They couldn't promise at first that it would be possible, but it was certainly worth trying. That mother and daughter were worth it and that family with the unusual request was worth it too.


Charles Cowling said...

This is a beautiful story, Patrick. There is a strong tendency among UK funeral directors, too, to "do things our way - it's the only way." When funeral directors get out from their own mindset and enter into that of their clients, the outcome can only be a more satisfying funeral for those who mourn and a more interesting work experience for the funeral director. Funerals should be conducted in accordance with the customs, culture and language of the client. They must make sense of death their way.

Anonymous said...

This story really touched me, kinda choked me up. So glad you guys were able to assist the family with their wishes.

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