“Ha,Ha,Ha,” roared the uproarious funeral director… fantasy or reality?
Recent attendance at a program geared toward funeral directors inspired a few questions after observing the sea of black in which they merged.
Is it possible that conventional attire of these bodily packagers and spirit shepherds might cause some creative observers to yawn? Is it okay for them to loosen up by shedding their crisp, tragic black demure and manner of dressing… maybe even untying restrictive ties or unbuttoning high-necked blouses a bit, thereby allowing their throats to emit jolly sounds and their facial muscles to form spontaneous and emphatic smiles? Consider, for example, a group of funeral directors from a particular establishment sponsoring an evening program at a community facility. Might each of them shun uniformity in favor of individuality… akin to the personalization they promote? Instead of seeing everyone garbed in a black suit, maybe the non-bereaved public would like to be treated to some eye candy… even if only in shades of blue, gray, and brown!
Articles periodically inform us that depression can be a pervasive consequence of working in a death environment. It is not easy to compartmentalize one’s thoughts so that the sorrow of clients, aversive images, and hands-on ministrations from a day’s work are not taken home to the dinner table and the bedroom. Can any prophylactic or remedial measures be adopted to reverse a tendency toward gloomy aberrations?
How about comedy? Can funeral directors and staff embrace and convey aspects of humor in their work without defiling the undertones of their missions? Is it acceptable for them to snicker, giggle, or even laugh? Not just in the impervious confines of a convention or social milieus, but in their daily dealings with the public outside grief’s abyss. Not in the face of individuals going through the ordeal of emotional turmoil, of course, but in more benign and widespread domains where they represent the profession.
Perhaps Caleb Wiley is the maverick who will set the pace for movement toward a more relaxed demeanor. As a funeral director in the rural hamlet of Parkesburg, Pennsylvania, he endorses humor… so much so that his comical declarations via his blog have attracted the attention of multi-thousands of Twitter followers! He believes in “concise humor to hook readers.”
This ingenious young man aims to shine light on a dark subject. By doing so, he hopes people will begin to have conversations about death, realizing that life is precious. The titillating name for his blog, “Confessions of a Funeral Director,” undoubtedly arouses interest among all but the most staid readers. Besides jokes and “pimped-out hearses,” reference is made to “death virgins,” defined as people who have little or no experience with death and dying. In Caleb’s Twitter bio he notes that, “I’m the last person to let you down.”
Maybe this offbeat Caleb celeb has uncovered palliative possibilities. At least he has introduced food for thought and a chance for folks to dabble in death whimsy, thereby deciding for themselves if they want to digest the material. And maybe his brand of humor allows workers in the death care industry to take a break from the daily grind and enjoy a chuckle.
For added amusement, all ye funeral personnel out there… perhaps you’d like to organize a local support group for yourselves, rather than limiting provision of restorative antidotes to your grieving clients. Naturally, the tenor for yours would be in blatant contrast to the ones that are so familiar to you as a service you offer. Give yourselves permission to get crazy. Call your group a Croaking Club, where you can engage in convivial, even loud, companionship with your comrades. Go for zany. Laugh your guts out instead of… well, never mind.
Maybe a bevy of smiling funeral directors would represent one more catalyst toward changing the face of the death industry in this era of transformation.
Additional Resource: THE FUNERAL LADIES blog