We always think we have more time. For most of our lives, we ignore our mortality. We make plans far into the future. That future is always in the distance. None of us believe that day will come for us. When confronted with a funeral of a loved one or friend we take only a brief and sideways glance at our own eventual death. We then quickly get back to our own “to-do” list and our daily routines, pushing death once again behind that curtain of uncertainties in our minds.
Working in the Death Industry for over a decade now caused me to take a hard look at my own mortality. I work as an “AfterCare Specialist.” I contact families that have used the services of the large funeral home complex where my work is done and ask questions about their experience of making arrangements for their loved ones with us. I also talk with them about their loved ones. We have conversations about what events took place as death approached, how they coped then, and how they are coping now. Our company very generously sends a very good Grief package including a book by a nationally acclaimed grief author after I have contacted them a few weeks after the funeral or burial.
Living through the HIV-AIDS pandemic in the 80s and 90s was a stark reminder that death and illness are not far from us on any given day. Death and illness do not consider your worth to others. Your contribution to your family or community. The grief and sadness that your loved ones will deal with. Death does not discriminate, nor excuse you from the process. Protest and worry about it all you want but the process will proceed and come for you “when it is your time.” Here I am 30 years past the death of so many of my friends.
Now we have been coping with the Covid pandemic. For many months my thoughts went to will either of us be here in three weeks? Will Covid claim one of us and leave the other to cope with life as a widower? Can we even hope to recover with the underlying conditions we have already? Finally, a reprieve with a vaccine. But what an exhausting 18 months or so while we watched the disease ravage our daily workplace in Death Care.
Reading every death call record that passes through this large workplace brings a constant mental calculation of my age vs. the deceased age. Four years younger than me. Fifteen years older than I am. Much too young. A