Often times while serving the public, we’ll hear comments such as “You must be used to this” or “You’ve become immune to death”. No, we are not immune to death or the far-reaching impact it has on families and our Island community.
Yes, funeral service professionals are trained to care for the deceased, taking measures to ensure dignity and respect during the transfer from the place of the death, to our care. We are trained to understand various religious and cultural rituals that provide meaning for those we serve. We are educated to understand the impact of grief – before the death occurs, during services, and afterwards, as people are left to redefine their relationship with the deceased.
We are not immune; we are human
One does not become accustomed to seeing parents distraught over the death of a child, a widow/widower suddenly without their life partner, a sibling mourning the death of their best friend, or a child looking to make sense of the death of a loving grandparent.
As Bennett Chapple’s poem, “The Undertaker” states: “We are human and know the sorrow that throbs in the aching breast”. We need to take measures to practice self-care that nourishes our well-being. We need to acknowledge each and every death that happens, because all are meaningful.
As funeral service professionals, the day we become immune or indifferent to the honour of caring for the deceased and their family, is the day we stop being professional.
The midnight hour, the darkest hour,
That human grief must know,
Sends forth its hurried summons –
Asks me to come – I go!
I know not when the bell may toll,
I know not where the blow may fall,
I only know that I must go
In answer to the call.
Perhaps a friend – perhaps unknown –
‘Tis fate that turns the wheel –
The tangled skeins of human life
Wind slowly on the reel.
And I? I’m the undertaker,
“Cold -Blooded”, you’ll hear them say,
“Trained to the shock and chill of death,
With a heart that’s cold and grey.”
Trained – that’s what they call it
How little they know the rest –
I’m human, and know the sorrow
That throbs in the aching breast.