Now that I have been a funeral director for numerous years, crimes against others have become a reality in my world. I have buried clients who have been shot, ran over, beaten, dismembered, burned, kidnaped and tortured. As I work to prepare them, I lament over the pain, both physically and psychologically that they must have endured. I wonder if death was a welcome relief for them, or were they willing to endure even more to remain on earth with their loved ones. I witness the anguish and pain their families suffer indefinitely and I wonder if they can ever recover from the ferociousness of their grief. I quake at what sort of person could possibly inflict such horror on another of God’s creatures, especially when that creature is another human being.
I watched two crime shows this weekend, and they have occupied a space in my mind that seems to refuse to relinquish their horror. They have disturbed my rest; my peace. Before actually experiencing the results of these sorts of crimes, these movies would have just slipped through my brain as bizarre entertainment; now however, they do not. Now, I am reminded of the horrific ripple effect these sorts of crimes have on the living, the survivors. To see the suffering a mother experiences upon the death of her child magnified when he or she has been tortured and murdered is beyond description. To help families overcome, even slightly, the anguish suffered when one of their own has been viciously attacked and killed at the hands of a trusted friend or ran down over a disagreement, is excruciatingly painful. I do not know how one does not withdraw from reality after a loved one has suffered such heinous crimes against them. I do not know how you over come and rejoin life after someone you have loved from the depths of your soul, suffers such viciousness and unspeakable acts upon their bodies before death. How do you recover from the quilt of not being there to protect them when they needed protection so desperately? How do you recover from knowing that you were home eating ice cream and watching a comedy while they were being tortured and robbed of their life, maybe even calling out for you at the most excruciating and painful moment inflicted upon them? How do you ever recover from missing your last moment to intervene on their behalf and end their pain, their fears, and their sufferings?
As their funeral director, I experience intense anguish over the violence suffered by my clients and unbearable stress over the sufferings of the survivors. As the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months, and the months turn into years, I see the survivors in town and when our gazes meet, I see their suppressed anguish resurface as my presence awakens the wound deeply hidden within their soul. They walk around functioning in their daily lives carrying a concealed scar across their hearts that they will never be rid of. I see their eyes swell up with tears and I know that they can barely breathe as I say hello to them.
I think that children who play violent video games should have to shadow a funeral director through a year of murder cases. I think that writers who write violent screenplays should have to shadow a family who has suffered horrific violence against one of their own. I think that violent perpetrators should never be allowed to walk among law-abiding citizens again and that families, who have suffered such violent acts within their relations, should never have to pay taxes to support and provide for these horrid and demented violent criminals. If in your opinion that makes me an uncaring soul, then I invite you to come and do my job and witness the despair my survivors suffer.
Being a wife and mother has been the most phenomenal experience in my life. Second in line is being a funeral director. Helping others through the worst day life has to offer is a gift to my soul. Helping them recover from vicious loss should never be part of their lives, nor mine. It is my fervent prayer that none of you should ever suffer such a devastatingly intense loss within your circles of family and friends.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and professional speaker. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.