Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf
Published in the Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel week of Oct. 19.
Living in a small community, everyone knows what you are doing, sometimes before you know what you are doing yourself. That is not necessarily a bad problem to have. It also means in times of crisis the people of the community bond together to support each other.
Recently our community has experienced many deaths in a short span of time. Some were expected and others have knocked us to our knees. We grieve, we share memories and we attend funerals to show respect for those who died and to support their families.
We turn to the same places for help during this difficult time: our pastors and our funeral directors. We forgot our loved ones are also their friends. The pastors and the funeral directors are burying their friends too.
Time after time when we walk into the funeral home we are greeted by the funeral directors kind faces as they reach out with a kind word or a hug to make us feel better. In my community we have been blessed to first have the Heitner’s, then the Brusses and now the Nasinecs taking care of us when we experience the death of a family member or a loved one.
We have had other funeral homes in my community, but the ones mentioned above are those I have had personal experience with.
Maynard Heitner helped my children understand what happens during a funeral and to a loved one when they die. My 4-year-old daughter made the comment after meeting with Maynard, “My grandpa’s going to have a new body when he’s up in heaven.” I asked her how she knew that and she said, “Because he’s with God.” She learned this from Maynard. During his years as funeral director, he lost his best friends, and he buried all of them. And yet as he grieved, he made others feel better.
The Brusses, Stan and Kathy, were no exception. They too handled everything for a family to make our time of mourning easier. They grieved right along with us as they carried out the service they provided while hiding what they might be feeling for the sake of the families, adding touches that made the families’ experience easier.
These past weeks in my small community we have experienced many funerals. The Nasinec family handles funerals in the same caring tradition and service as the former owners. In a quiet moment I caught the funeral director trying to hide the tears. Yes, funeral directors grieve too, and in the midst of all the care for the families we forget that funeral directors need hugs and encouragement and care so they don’t burn out and fall into the abyss of sadness. All funeral directors need to be remembered for the heart they have and the dedication they have putting their feelings aside for all of us.
Pastors too, bury their friends. They listen to our problems, they help us find solutions and they keep their feelings under wrap to help us. But they, too, grieve right along with us but like funeral directors they put their feelings aside for us.
I dedicate this column to funeral directors and pastors who help us through a difficult time in our life. Consider this my hug and my thank you. You make our lives better, you make our lives easier and we are thankful for all of you past and present in our lives.
Give your funeral director and pastor a hug today. You never can have too many hugs to keep you going.
You said that beautifully, Julie. All so true! Hugs and thanks to all of them.
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As a pastor serving small parishes of people who seemed disinclined to be in the pews on Sunday, I would often meet (former) parishioners” families at the time of loss. These family members are often really lost. I actually have done extremely personal funerals based on untraditional beliefs and have “wowed” both family and others by listening to the (non) beliefs of those grieving. You find peoples’ filters are down or even gone in this instance.
So, Kaddish while we interred a long moved member of the community when they were brought back for burial in a dying community’s cemetery. A hybrid wiccan Buddhist service for a nebulous son who left town and family decades before we buried his mother, a stanch member of the church her family helped found.
And then, being the only witness to the internment of a 102 year old parishioner who had outlived every single person she knew as she was buried after a winter “vaulting”, as I had promised I would the winter before.
There is a line of poetry:” You learn and you learn. With every goodbye you learn”. As funeral directors and ministers know, it is the ones who are mourning we must comfort, not the one who has passed. Children have questions in many circumstances It is the funeral director and/or the minister who can carefully answer them if the parents can’t/won’t (and there are parents who won’t, as in other circumstances). That may leave us in uncomfortable situations where our knowledge and faith could help or hinder a situation (I have seen both).
Support your pastors and your funeral directors. We have some of the worst and the best times in any town. God bless and support us all.
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