Archive for Funeral Services

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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EPISODE 24 — That Bleeping Beeping!

Posted in Death, Embalming Room, Funeral home with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2013 by Morguie
Angel of Patience

Angel of Patience

Here’s a story about an incident that happened when C J was working down in the heart of the big city:

C J had been working late, alone in the big service center. She was dressing and cosmetizing the bodies on the list for their respective funeral homes. The service center was the hub for preparing the bodies for sixteen nearby funeral establishments. The workload was sizeable as a result. As she was changing the dial to a different radio station, something caught her attention. A beeping sound.

A familiar sound, occasionally emitting from one of the dozen or so bodies lying on tables, awaiting dressing.

She knew instantly what that sound was—a defibrillator implant! She laughed to herself, as she recalled the first time she heard this ‘beep’ tone coming from a body. She was horrified at the time. She wondered how to make it stop…Mr. Becker told her it was some kind of an alarm or low battery warning on a pacemaker or defibrillator. She giggled when he said ‘low battery’ because it made perfect sense…the person was DEAD, for Pete’s sake.  Holy smoke! Was this the reason why the person was dead? She did not ask. She felt relieved that it wasn’t her problem — that people showed up here deceased was a cardinal requirement, and that’s the bottom line.  She asked Mr. B if there was a way to quiet the beeping and he explained that it would mean removing it from the body, and such a procedure required a signed authorization from the family.

She located the body making the beep sound…and it was quite loud, too. She dressed the woman as usual. She jotted down a notation on the report about it. Double-checked to be sure there was not a signed authorization attached which permitted the device’s removal—none was found.  She never thought anymore of it.

The next evening, a frantic phone call from the mortuary uptown, where the body had been sent for her viewing and service. The voice on the other end was that of an angry director, whom she was well acquainted with.

“WHAT is this creepy BEEPING?” he demanded to know. “I was setting her up in the chapel and there is NOISE coming from inside this lady!”

“Yes, Jack. I am aware. Didn’t you see the paperwork? It was noted there…”

“I haven’t got time to decipher you people’s chicken scratch writing! You send someone over here IMMEDIATELY to remove the damned thing! The family will be arriving in less than an hour!” he screamed in a shrill high-pitched voice.

“Can’t do it, Jack. Unless, of course, you have a signed authorization permitting me to remove the device. Do you have it? I’ll come right now and take care of it if you do,” she offered. She knew he did not. 

“Why do you need an authorization? Knock off the bullshit! Just come over here and fix it NOW!” he yelled. “Son of a bit…,”he started to swear.

“Hey, no need to get ugly with me, I don’t make the rules,” she replied. “The law clearly states a signed auth is needed; that device is considered to be a ‘body part’ and you know that requires the family’s permission…,” she stated in her calmest voice.

He was really beginning to annoy her. How in HELL did he ever pass his funeral director’s licensing exam? And who was he to scream and curse at her? Some of the directors thought they were God Almighty, at times. They talked to the embalmers as if they were personal servants. They loved to push their luck when it came to details and didn’t like being told “no” to whatever they were demanding of them. Sometimes they had to be set straight. This exchange is a perfect example of such.

“This is ridiculous! What am I supposed to do?” he asked, almost in a panic. “You can hear the thing a mile away!”

“Calm down, Jack. The family is probably aware of the beeping. Did it occur to you that they maybe wanted it like that? Actually, a better question would be: did it occur to you to ask if the person had any devices implanted, in the first place? It’s no different than if you were asking this for a body that is going to be cremated. You could have saved yourself the heart attack, and saved me the time, here. I have ten more people to finish before I move on to my embalming tonight.”

“Well, I guess I can turn up the chapel music, try to drown it out…,”he supposed aloud. “Sorry I got all over your ass about it,” he added.

“That’s cool. We’re good. Forget it. If your family wants to remove the device give me a call and I’ll come over to remove it, okay?” she offered.

“Very good. Will do,” he replied. They hung up.

“Sheesh!” she said to herself. She never got a call back. Apparently, the creepy bleeping beeping didn’t bother anyone except for the funeral director..

Just another day at the office. An unbelievably typical day.

©2013, C.S. Thompson.

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