This past week, I received a first call. My husband and I jumped in our first call car and drove to the address we were given. When we arrived at our destination, a man came out with a cup of coffee in his hand and said hello to my husband; they had met before. Years ago, when I was out of town, my husband had called at this man’s house for his mother when she had passed away.
As we entered the home, we were directed toward a bedroom, and one could see that the decedent had been ill for a long time. He was a hospice patient, and there was a vast assortment of medical equipment in the room. The hospice nurse in attendance and I had worked together before, and she helped me prepare the decedent for transport to the funeral home. The owner of the home, my former client who had previously cremated his mother, said he would like to have this man cremated as well, and that he would come by the funeral home the following morning.
The next morning my client and I sat in my arrangement room discussing the details of his services. As I gathered the decedent’s vital information, I realized this man was my client from years back that I had never met. He was just as polite in person as he had been on the phone, and I was happy to know that I would be working with a patient person. As I gathered the decedent’s vital information, it became clear that the decedent and the man sitting before me were not relatives.
During my career as a funeral practitioner, I have met amazing people. Some people, however, are more than amazing; they are astounding. This man sitting before me was one of those persons. As I collected the decedent’s information, I realized that the man acting as next of kin and the decedent were merely friends. This man had taken the decedent into his home, provided shelter, personal care, food, friendship, advocacy, etc., when the decedent’s family would not. My client was there, beside his friend at the time of his death, providing comfort so that he was not alone and afraid at the moment his breath ceased. Now that his friend had expired, the man sitting before me, was in my funeral home properly taking care of his friend’s final needs on earth.
This man, my former client, does not appear to be a wealthy man. His home is modest. He is a blue collar laborer. He and his wife are beyond the age of retirement, yet both continue to work full-time jobs. Their home is not filled with expensive art or furniture, nor do they drive new expensive cars. Through observation, they do not appear to be lavish in any way whatsoever. Their generosity, however, is what makes them so unique.
This husband and wife have sacrificed space in their home, their time, their energy, their money, and much more. I can only imagine what accompanies having someone die in your home, and this husband and wife have willingly given all of these things to someone less fortunate than themselves. They have lost sleep sitting up with their friend as they provided physical comfort and emotional companionship while his health slipped away from him, and death claimed his soul. Were it not for their generosity, their friend would have died homeless in the street somewhere, alone, hungry, and cold. And, now they are paying for his final expenses.
The sacrifices they have made for this man are enormous. The gifts they have given him are priceless. They gave of themselves without thought of repayment. Now that he is gone, they will mourn his loss. There will be a void within their home, an empty room. The time and energy they craved last week will now be unwelcome. Grief’s pain will soon fill every crevice of their souls. This reward seems unfair for such selfless devotion.
I spoke with my client briefly about what was to come his way. He has experienced grief before. When his mother died, he mourned her loss. He knows what is coming. His gift, though, is more profound than he realizes. It is true that my client selflessly served his friend and provided for his needs as his life slipped away from him. It is true that my client will suffer the pain of grief for his selfless acts of love and labor. It is also true that he has served a greater purpose.
I knew years ago that my client was a very polite and patient man. At this particular time of year, his examples of love and sacrifice are profound and poignant, and I am grateful for their impact upon my soul. Although the pain he will suffer from the loss of his friend will be immense, I believe it will be dwarfed by the blessings of love and gratitude he will receive from on high. “And the King shall answer and say unto them; Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40)
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 co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. 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.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.