Death invades our ranks; there is nothing that can be done about that. It is how we deal with death when the burden is ours to bear that sets us apart. Most people face death as the undeniable end of life, however with that fact comes with several different explanations of the “here after.” Faith plays a very real part of an undertaker’s job, not necessarily the faith of that undertaker, but the faith of the dearly departed. The faith of the dead and their families is what gets them through the ordeal of death. Even those with no religious beliefs can try and put an “it is okay this person died” spin on death. Never the less, after all the talk of death is finished, a void still exist.
I am a very firm proponent of bringing children to the funeral home; I feel that is how they learn to grieve. They look to the adults as an example of what to do, and how to behave with these emotions of loss and sadness.
One afternoon it was Jeff’s time to learn about death, as the night before his grandmother had passed away. I had made arrangements with Jeff’s parents, and they had asked me about bringing him to the funeral home. I told them how I felt, and encouraged them to talk plainly to him about his grandmother. They decided to have him visit her before the family and friend visitation time, and they would make any further decisions based on how that experience went. Late in the afternoon Jeff and his mother and father came to the funeral home. Jeff was a cute little man, I figured him to be about six. He was a chubby boy, and he tugged at his collar, his navy blue suit and tie did not appear to be his favorite outfit. “Hello Jeff, I’m Scott,” I said as I presented him my hand. “Hello Scott” he replied. “Nice funeral parlor ya’ got here.” I knew we would be fast friends right away. Jeff, his parents and I waited in the lobby for his grandfather to arrive. As we waited his parents and I engaged in some small talk as we passed the time waiting. Our attention turned to the conversation and we lost track of Jeff who just a moment earlier was right by our side. Suddenly the quiet discussion was shattered buy Jeff. He was running in from the reposing room from which his grandmother was laying in state. “Mommy, Daddy come here quick look, look!” He tugged at the couple’s hand guiding them into the room. I followed behind and listened to Jeff as he exclaimed “Look! Granny ain’t gone to be with Jesus, she’s right here in this box!”
A tear came to the eye of the mother and the father as they explained to Jeff about the physical body and the soul of mankind. “So she is here…. but the best part of her has gone on to heaven?” he questioned. “That’s about that size of it Jeff.” said his father, crouched in front of his son. “ But she’ll always be my granny no matter what, right?” Jeff asked. We all agreed that she would, and Jeff replied, “Well I reckon that makes me pretty dog gone lucky.”