Archive for Funeral home

IF I DIED TODAY — Obituaries — What Will Yours Say?

Posted in Death, Embalming Room, Eulogy, Funeral, Legacy, Life, Memorialization, Planning Ahead, Remembrance, Tradition, Wisdom with tags , , , , , on July 1, 2014 by Morguie

People who are fully engaged in living their lives tend to overlook their own life story. Think about it…while so many of us are busy doing what we do everyday, we seldom pause to think about what it all means in that ‘big picture.’ We often discount our own achievements, accomplishments, and basic significance in life. Most of us would not be comfortable ‘tooting their own horn.’  I sure was in an awkward spot, recently, when I was asked to provide a brief biography for my editor, to be used for a social media web page they were creating as a companion for the magazine I write for.

I’ve never been arrogant or ego-filled. I tend to have self-esteem issues — been that way all of my life. I typically discount my so-called good qualities; instead I am usually focused on my flaws and short-comings when I try to sum myself up. It took a long time to come up with something acceptable to submit.


Have you ever thought to do this for yourself? I want to gently remind you that death is an inextricable part of life. All things that are born, shall cease living someday. No mortal has gotten out alive and come back to tell about it, unfortunately. It is highly doubtful that you will be that mortal.


Where am I?  HEY!!! Where are my PANTS?

SNAP!!! I never thought THIS would actually happen, to ME!


I spent a good chunk of time last weekend trying to craft a fitting obituary for a peer, who was a long-time funeral home owner. He had reached his mid-eighties, finally succumbing to a long-time decline in health. He’d had lived a long life and done much in his time. It was a task which required a summary of all of those years, stated in the most compact and complete way possible. It needed to fit in a small space. I found the task daunting.




I’d had the privilege to go from being a no-nothing greenhorn who performed house removals and transported bodies to ultimately earning the man’s confidence and trust as a knowledgeable and skilled peer. He was of the old school way…a small town and rural community undertaker. He’d dedicated 60 years to his calling.






He was stubborn about the way he stuck to his traditions— and the younger folks in the business often regarded him as a crotchety old geezer, often missing the gifts of what wisdom they could have taken from knowing and working with him. Some  accused him of being a nit-picker and too demanding.  I considered him a mentor. What he showed me or demanded of me, or shared with me…all of it helped to shape my experience as I endeavored to learn the trade.


He was a nit-picker. He was demanding. Why? Because he wanted to serve his families correctly and with all details properly handled. He was serious about his duty to care for the dead and the grieving. That’s everything in the eyes of a good funeral director. I was truly proud when I’d reached a point that he would ONLY speak directly with me when he needed a particular detail handled. I earned his trust and respect…I delivered what he needed, which was not usually such an easy thing to be able to do. If I told him I would, I did. He especially trusted me with the worst kinds of tasks…traumatic deaths with need for extensive reconstruction and restorative work in order to allow for viewing.








I struggled to understand how a life-long funeral director could have left this world without a basic funeral plan…at least an obituary sketched out or written down.  To be asked the favor of my assistance,  was a compliment. I wrote from the perspective I knew, and the family was pleased. They felt it was an obituary which summarized him, his ethic, and his life as succinctly as an obit could; obits are merely a death notice with a general bio, not full accounts of our lives.


As funeral directors, or traditional undertakers, such as he truly could be termed, who deal with death every day, we understand the importance and responsibility of planning our final affairs. We gently preach, but in this case, did not practice.


Death Valley

What will be said of you, when YOUR journey is through?  (Photo credit: |Dusk|)




I have had my own obituary written and tucked away for quite some time, now. I wanted to make it easier for my girls. I wrote down what I’d like it to say, about what I’d managed to do with my lifetime. They are free to add whatever they’d like, when that time comes.

OTHERWISE,  leaving it to someone else may result in…something like this, which fortunately was written by a daughter who had a sense of humor as she told others of her dad:

…it went viral and is worth a read!




What would you like to see in the snapshot written of your full and significant life? Share the story with a brief written life summary of yourself, then put it away with insurance policies, wills, and other vital papers. Once this task is undertaken, there will be peace that it has been done.


This post is part of my series, ‘IF I DIED TODAY.’ Posts in the series are presented with the hope that we can prepare ourselves for our own eventual end-of-life issues before the end comes; so that we may have peace of mind for ourselves and our loved ones may be undistracted by our personal worries. Let’s be allowed to enjoy the final days together, to the fullest.


Such preparation now frees us in many ways, from the very anxiety death creates in us.  Let’s start the conversation and quell our fear.


©2014,Colleen S. Thompson.




The ‘Cooling Board,’ Explained

Posted in bereavement, Death, Embalming Room, Funeral, Funeral home, Funeral Service Professional, Grief, Life, Losing A Parent, Loss, Memorialization, Mortuary, Mourning, Remembrance with tags , , , , , , , on February 3, 2014 by Morguie

Today we thought we would pass along this gem we found a few weeks back. It is an old-fashioned implement, the cooling board, explained beautifully by the town’s funeral director. The gentleman also speaks of his years caring for those bereaved in his community through their darkest hours, his family’s funeral home, and his personal realization that age has become an obstacle that hinders his ability to give his mental or physical best to the work anymore. He gives a candid and thoughtful testament to what it means to serve others as a small town director. We hope you enjoy this selection as much as we did.

Have a beautiful day and thank you for coming by…we hope you’ll have something to say in the comment box before you go.

Hugs,     C J  and  Morguie



C J's- Mortuary College Pic 1999

C J’s- Mortuary College Pic

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How I Came to Exist In This House of the Dead

Posted in Animals, Death, Embalming Room, FOOD, Friendship, Funeral home, Funeral Service Professional, Gratitude, Humor, Life, Mortuary, Pets with tags , , , on May 8, 2013 by Morguie



Dear Friendly and Esteemed  Disciple-in-Waiting* —


Thanks for taking a minute of your precious leisure to stumble upon my blog. My name is Morguie. As the photo suggests, I am indeed, a mouse. Yes. That is what you read. A mouse. I am a simple house mouse. I assure you, though, that I do not dwell within just any old house! Perhaps this is the cause for my solitude here. Everyone else I know or was kin with was not brave enough to take on this house. Me, I’m not proud. Nor am I picky. Especially when warmth, shelter, space, and frankly, food are of any import. And they all are! Backing up to the food comment I just made…don’t fly off with any crazy notions that I meant anything other than what a regular house mouse considers as food. Let’s be clear, crystal flippin’ clear about that! This house may be one designated as one for the deceased, but there is plenty of living going on in the in-between times. Plenty of comers and goers, visitors and visited, etc.




English: House mouse, 4 days old.

I’m 4 days old and blind! And, nude!  Just like any other baby !

I was born in a shed close by this main house. It seems oddly fitting to be a ‘survivor’ here. You see, one by one, my kinfolk fell away, whether from want to move to bigger and better digs,  fell prey to the feline appetite of Chester, the predator in charge of vermin control, or victim of the guillotine thingy, the common mouse-trap. Now there’s a misnomer if ever I heard of one! A “trap” indeed! A trap infers the possibility that one within the trap may yet have a potential release in store. The guillotine insures against that possibility. I have SEEN what it does. I also miss a few of my siblings and cousins, courtesy of the contraption’s mechanical jaws. Somehow, I figure I was too lazy to get out and see the rest of the world, but fortunate to be quicker than Chester in ability to outwit and outrun him.  And, if Chester is any sample of what’s out there to see in the rest of the world, I chose pretty wisely, if you ask me! Amazing that he’s made it this far without a bad accident…he was given 9 lives by design!



                                                                                        English: Laboratory mouse

Anyway, so I remain here alone, but certainly not bored. And, bravely so! You ought to see this place in mid-winter, during high flu and pneumonia season! Busier than all-get-out! It’s quite a miracle I haven’t been claimed by the heavy rolling casters on some of the ‘moving’ equipment, or for that matter, smashed like a fly by the heavy landing of supply boxes, or pressed flat by a rolling bier. That’s the pretty wood thing they set a casket on to present to the family at visitation time up in the main chapel.

I feel pretty blessed being  in this old house. I have all the creature comforts, and the food is exceptional. There’s a real kitchen on the main floor where the business office is. Since the business is a family owned operation, lunch has always been a family meal here as well. A couple of those humans can really get my curiosity up, with the smells of lunch cooking in the plug-in crock. I have taken my life to the literal edge just to sneak a peek at what’s going on at lunch! I cannot do this carefully enough…especially since I am technically not supposed to be here anymore.

Pułapka na myszy z myszą:) Mausefalle mit der ...

An unfortunate ancestor inside the jaws of the guillotine thingy.

Until CJ, I was a wanted mouse! A veritable price upon my head, for the removal of my head.  I charmed my way into her heart with my dashing good looks, beady brown eyes, and my disarming wit!  So CJ and I came to an understanding with one another, and part of the deal was that I was to be a rarity around here, not to be seen or heard. In exchange for my life, I agreed to be the ‘eyes and ears on the ground.’ Literally. It is such an exciting life for me, actually. I am a covert spy reporting underground about things happening above-ground. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I do hope you’ll be back very soon. I think I can charm you with my stories about what happens around this old place, known more commonly as a funeral home, house of the dead.

©2013, C.S. Thompson.

Common house mouse (Mus musculus), wild type.




English: Laboratory mouse

CJ holding me when I was a little younger (baby fur still)

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After hours — Just A Mouse In The House

Posted in Death, Embalming Room, Funeral, Funeral home, Funeral Service Professional, Grief, Haunting, Humor, Life, Loss, Mortuary, Mourning, Musing, Pets, Relationships, Spirits, Thanatology with tags , , , , on May 8, 2013 by Morguie

sepia bench

What could be a more dramatic opening for a ‘mortuary’ blog than the spooky setting of a darkened, quieted, and mysterious funeral home? We don’t know. But, it sparked your interest, didn’t it?

This blog is a journal of sorts, of a mouse who is a solitary soul dwelling within a mortuary. Naturally, you may ask, how it is that a mouse somehow transmits any intelligible information, much less communicates these thoughts to become a published journal?  And assuming such a fantastic feat could actually take place in the real-world, just who is the receiver and transcriber of this data? And WHY for heaven’s sake should a mouse bother, even?

Wake up, kids! It’s the INTERNET! Anything is possible right here on the Internet, RIGHT?


Morguie wants to speak to those readers who have more care and concern for simple day-to-day life and the underlying events which unfold for the humans encountered in the journal’s entries. Morguie’s perspective may be taken seriously, for further thought, and perhaps deeper reflection so that the reader may see some pearl of inter-personal wisdom or a glimmer of grace, humor, hope, forgiveness, or even a glimpse of the reader’s own soul. He prefers to speak to your inner-child, who is without judgment, and of the thought that anything can be possible. He’ll happily accept anyone who will fairly give him a moment and a chance. Actually ANYBODY with a bit of stale bread …

  Nothing in his entries is ever meant to be offensive, zealous, vitriolic, syrupy, patronizing, bloody gross, smelly or made with any disrespect or indignity. But sometimes, well…hey, yeah, death gets a bit…UNpleasant.

SOMETIMES, the posts MAY CONTAIN crackers, peanuts, and other edibles…the state made us put that in due to the food allergy rules.


  And if DEATH, the topic*, should cause you some discomfort and feelings of terror, he won’t mind if you leave the room, um, er, now. We recommend you stay, because, hey, you might just like us anyway!

 If that leaves just those with a healthy curiosity to the reading audience, Morguie says, “Welcome! Come On In!”

 CJ just happened to cross paths with the mouse, in much the same way as anyone might. It was the strange compassion within CJ, who had been tasked with the effective and permanent disposal of Morguie, that caused the wretched creature to be spared. This reprieve came with a condition: the mouse must take extraordinary care not to be seen or heard by the humans coming and going from the building. Failure of the mouse to uphold his end of the deal was surely cause for execution.


CJ, in turn, would keep the mouse and his journal alive in hopes of creating something good to share with others. Morguie ‘s real worry then, being detected. CJ’s hands would be tied if he were to get careless. Yep, the dreaded guillotine of the famous snap-trap or even worse, Chester, the housecat, predator in charge. Bye bye blog.


So, if you will kindly indulge him, allow Morguie  to introduce himself, and tell you a little about how he came to dwell here, in this old funeral parlor…

*We tossed that line in because we really don’t know if you “caught onto the idea” yet with the category, tags, clever blog site title, or other clues we’ve left lying about, so far. 

 never say never because that would limit our imaginations and stunt our thinking, which we are vehemently opposed to.

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