My mother used to tell me that I would know I had reached professional success when I no longer had to look for work; I’d sit back and wait while other people called me.
I reached that point years ago. Today I know I’m successful because my services are so in demand that I can yell at a minister in front of the rest of the funeral home staff and not be in any danger of unemployment.
I have little tolerance for that which does not belong at my funeral arrangement, and one thing that never belongs is an unlicensed person, in this case a minister, taking over the arrangement. Not only is this illegal – only licensed funeral directors can sell funeral goods and services – but ministers are not capable of strictly arranging the funeral while keeping religion out of it. I didn’t go to theology school; I do not give sermons or falsely portray myself as a representative of a church. The minister did not go to mortuary school…the logical next step would be for him to avoid the role of the funeral director.
Religious families are welcome to bring their minister to the arrangements, just as they are welcome to bring friends or other people who may be a source of comfort. However, the minister is not permitted to do anything but what the family invited him there for, or perhaps give information about the layout of the church, the church fees, and other church policies regarding that family’s funeral service.
No matter the family’s religious beliefs or how long you have known them, the funeral arrangement conference is not the place to discuss why God took their child; God’s will; God’s greatness; God’s plan or God’s promises. Seriously, do you know any Christians who have been comforted by being told that God had a divine plan for their child other than perhaps letting him live longer than 13 years? Who are they?!
Guess what, moron: these people had plans for their child too. Plans like Christmas, prom, SATs, college, and grandchildren. Not cancer. Not a funeral. Bet they like their plans better than God’s plan.
“God’s greatness will allow you to see your child again in Heaven one day!” Really, fool? Is that day today? If not, God’s greatness isn’t doing much for this family. They were doing much better yesterday, when their daughter was here.
“I guess God just really needed another angel.” You needed him more. Without knowing you, your family or your religion, I am absolutely qualified to tell you that you needed your child more than God did.
“God’s love will make this funeral affordable.” No, that was me. I took my pen and crossed out a number and wrote down another number. I may look like an angel, but there was nothing divine about that act.
I will help a family in any way I can, but I will never offer them false hope or comfort during times of absolute horror. A woman who falls to the ground screaming during a funeral does not need comforting words about how it will all be okay, God is there for her, no one wants her to be sad…she needs a place to fall down and scream. She needs to be sad. God may be there, but her child still is not.
Really, it won’t all be okay. Most likely, you will see that life still has meaning, and there will be joy that finds you, and you will eventually have many good days in between the really bad ones, but it will never be as good as if this horrible thing had not happened to you, this thing that was definitely not God’s will. And if God and the church are important parts of your life, you will be able to find peace there, but this peace will not replace what was lost.
One family asked me if everything happens for a reason. I said no, beyond obvious limitations of human biology. The reason your loved one died was because our organs are not impervious to rupture, crushing, breakage and other damage. We cannot live more than a few minutes without air. We are not invincible to toxins and some people’s immune systems are not as strong as others. Not all trauma allows for recovery. One of these unfortunate realities is the reason she died. It was the only reason, and if it were up to God, her life would have been a lot longer.