Read the article, watch the video, this is my funeral home, this is my reality every day. (I pre-apologize for my sailor mouth.)
In a normal September I’d be helping roughly 40-50 families. On this, the 30th of the month I left work at 8pm and ended with over 80. Not to mention our own staff are taking a hit and myself, my boss, and our apprentice are working ourselves to the bone. Today, just TODAY, I added five new cases to my personal workload. (Not all Covid mind you because shockingly people are still dying of regular ol’ natural causes and they deserve my attention too.) however… this doesn’t factor in those I’ve taken on yesterday, earlier this week, and beyond. It sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not, I love my job beyond measure. I’m just pissed.
Let me explain what is different now vs the surge before. Politics. Plain and simple. Our political figures are up for re-election and they are pussy-footing around making any kind of hard line in the sand. Before, we had restrictions on gatherings. Now, we have none. Families are assuming that since there are no restrictions on gatherings that it is safe to hold services and be around each other. There is a false sense of security and it is literally killing families. Stop. Read that again. It. Is. Killing. FAMILIES. I’ve stopped counting how many members of the same family I’ve served. I’ve stopped counting how many double funerals (for spouses, for parent and child) I’ve held. They joke, “Heather, it was nice to meet you but I don’t want to see you again.”… and then we’re making arrangements again two weeks later. People gather at the funeral and do what grieving people do. They hug, they offer support, they pull their masks down to be heard. Look, they aren’t solely to blame. No one told them it was serious again. No one who has the power has used it. What was the point of having staged re-openings if we were going to reasses and realize we needed to take steps back.
My heart is breaking for the families I serve who are experiencing, not only loss, but so many secondary traumas their heads are spinning. Thousands in funeral costs unexpected. And often times multiple funeral costs. Or NOT having a funeral to save money which can be even more detrimental to one’s ability to process and grief and heal. Honoring a life doesn’t have to cost money. But people don’t know how without tradition and ritual and guidance. And directly after an unexpected death occurs is a super sh*tty time to learn. We are talking about decades of secondary trauma that who knows how it’ll rear it’s ugly head in their lives. I don’t get commission if someone spends a lot on a service. Hell, I get paid less than a school teacher. It serves no one if a family holds a service that they can’t pay for, both they and I are actually worse off for it. My job, or at least how I choose to see it, is to guide families from a state of shock, through the journey of grief, to mourning in a safe and healthy way. That’s 100% my goal as a funeral director.
But this isn’t politics, as our county coroner stated on CNN “this isn’t republican vs democrat, this is life vs death” and I, like her, just want to keep my community alive. I want to give them a chance to mourn and grieve losses that aren’t premature. So what if someone had pre-exisisting conditions, that’s a freakin’ life! That’s somebody’s person! Are we that calloused to be okay with a death because someone happened to have had a health issue or two? We all have health issues. And not all the deaths I’ve seen have had pre-existing conditions. I wish I could describe the people who have passed through my prep room doors but won’t because these are people’s parents, siblings, and yes babies.
I go to work and when I leave it is like going into a weird twilight zone. No one is wearing masks. People are going on vacation for f*cks sake. People are living like they have superpowers. Look, this virus doesn’t give a crap. It can infect a whole family and only take out one and the others only experience mild or no symptoms at all. I’m absolutely gobstopped how many people are willing to take that chance. Do you know how absolutely devastating it is to be the family member who gave your loved one Covid and they died? I can tell you. I sit with them every day.
So if I can impart anything. Please wear a mask, get the shot. Man up, woman up, human up. Show you’re a human to other humans. And please, please, please… stop gathering in large numbers. We aren’t there yet. I love you (I DO!) but I don’t want to meet you, I literally don’t have time to.