Business Family

The Sweet By and By

03:50Meg Cowan

One of the products our company has produced is for the funeral industry and this week it just happened that the opportunity to promote it came up as a part of a training day. An embalmers training day. Gulp.

I have spent a little time getting to know the funeral industry over the last little while and I am getting steadily more comfortable with it. One thing that has not diminished in my mind though, however used to things I become, is the value of end of life care professionals. They are gold, and last thursday brought that home to me in a new way. The training day wasn't too gory and there was no actual embalming onsite for the part I was at (thank goodness!), but there were graphic photos, lots of discussions about 'drainage' and 'feature setting', and a room full of 50 embalmers from around the country each with their own stories to tell when we sat down to lunch. Being a bit new to the game, it took me a little longer than them to swallow my meal.




The general population seems to have a bit of a fascination with what funeral directors and embalmers do and most people think embalmers are a bit weird. Ok, I'll be honest... a few of them are a little odd, but like I said, mostly they are gold.  So down to earth, with a capacity for compassion and really helping in a time of incredible need. And I cannot believe what some of them deal with. If you know an embalmer, honest to goodness, give them a hug today and say thanks.

I have recently been reading 'Thrive' by Arianna Huffington and she notes, 'Death is the one absolutely universal thing we all have in common. It's the ultimate equalizer, And yet we talk so little about it'.
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ellen Goodman who founded 'The Conversation Project' concluded 'the difference between a good death and a difficult death seemed to be whether the dying person had shared his or her wishes'. This has got me thinking.

I am becoming more comfortable talking about death now and I do think it's a discussion more of us need to have with our families or at least write down what we want and tell someone where to find that information. Talking about these things in some way, takes a little off the inevitable pressure of family and friends when the time comes for them to bid you farewell.
My point is, without being morbid, that one day the bell will toll for us all and our time here will be done. Hopefully we've lived and loved fully and are ready for what comes next. While we head to the sweet by and by, giving our families some ideas about arrangements means even in our absence we can make that grieving time a little easier for them in some way.

Most of all, I am challenged to live fully so there is something fabulous to be said in my eulogy!



If you're wondering what things you might need to discuss read on.

There is plenty that can be thought of and pre-arranged before a death occurs.There are so many interesting options. In some parts of the world instead of being buried or cremated you can choose to be freeze dried then shaken down, or shot into space in a specially made capsule which orbits for a little while and then burns up when it re-enters earths atmosphere.
There are lots of memorialisation options too. Obviously, you would want a 'Remembering Book', but apart from that there are graveside plots or urns to choose. You might even want to have your cremated remains made into a diamond!.
Have you thought about any of the following:
  • Information for an obituary in the papers
  • A funeral director and company of choice
  • Burial or cremation
  • The casket or cremation container
  • A grave marker and inscriptions
  • The location for the service
  • Type of service (memorial, wake, military, catholic, etc.)
  • Flower arrangements
  • Photos that will be used. 
  • Funeral music and songs
  • What you would like to be dressed in.
  • Readings
  • Memorial items
  • Transportation and funeral cars
  • Celebrant
  • Who will give tributes
  • Pallbearers
And most importantly the eulogy - the story of your life.
What are you doing that is worth talking about?!.

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