little miss funeral

an average girl working at your not so average job

Why I like my job.

I know. I KNOW.

I have been seriously lacking with my writing. I’m sorry. When it comes to Little Miss Funeral, I never want to write just to put content out there. I want what I’m sharing to mean something; so for the time being, I’ll share one of my YouTube videos.

Why I Like My Job.

5 ways to help when someone dies.

I read a lot of books. Since I’m a funeral director, I read a lot of books about death/dying and grief. In this video, I talk about 5 Ways to Help When Someone Dies; ideas that I got from “Sorry For Your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew (Good Things To Know)” by Alicia King.

For the little ones.

I was standing near the front door of the funeral home when I saw their car pull in. Our doors have these little window panels so I quickly moved away. That’s all they needed right now, to see a person glaring through the funeral home at them. They shouldn’t even be here, I thought to myself, so try not to make them more uncomfortable than they already are.

My heart broke as they walked through the doors. I quickly introduced myself as I lead them to the lounge. I tried to not stare at her stomach as she sat down, still swollen, but now just a symbol of an empty tomb. I don’t pretend to know why things happen. Things like this shouldn’t happen.

How do you not cry with these families? At one moment, I had to catch my breath to stop my own tears from falling. The moment she just broke down as she laid her head on his shoulder. He had his arms around her and hugged her tight. I sometimes think that I don’t have the right to cry. I didn’t carry this life inside of me. How can I possibly be sad that a life has ended that I never even knew? But I still mourn with them. I said a prayer that they would always lean on each other.

In the hospital morgue, they have the little body rolled tight in a blanket. The mothers name identifies who this child is, but this child has a name. It always annoyed me that the hospitals don’t use the child’s name. If you wanted to, you could pick up this baby with one hand, but we don’t. We cradle this little body in both hands, the same as the mother would if she’d be whispering lullabies into their ear. None of this makes any sense.

The part that I hate the most comes when we arrive back at the funeral home. We unwrap this little body, and look upon this little face. It’s perfect. Tiny lips that are perfectly close, and the cutest little button nose. There is a little hat on the baby’s head. Something that the mother would have probably chosen as she took her child home. Instead, I took the child with me. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

When we arrive the next morning at the cemetery, I have everything all set up. The mother and father arrive with a teddy bear in hand. I give them time as they place the stuffed animal in the casket. I wonder if she’ll ask to hold her baby, but she doesn’t. When it’s time, I ask the father if he wants to carry the casket to the grave. He looks at me confused, saying he didn’t think he could do that. Of course he can, I assure him. He holds his baby’s casket as we walk over. He places his child into the freshly dug grave. The priest blesses the ground and speaks the most beautiful words to the family. I didn’t think it was possible, for someone to know what to say at a time like this. But he did. His words didn’t take the pain away, nor did they bring this child back, but somehow, his words brought a little comfort.

It was actually a beautiful day for a burial. It would have been perfect funeral weather, as I describe it, expect for the fact that we were burying someone who we shouldn’t have been.

In the seven years that I’ve been a funeral director, I’ve buried more babies that I should have. In mortuary school, they talk about these things. Suicides, car accidents, illnesses. They talk about how these deaths are the hard ones, and they are, but these little babies, I lose a little bit of my heart with each one that I care for.

I have no words of comfort for these families. No answers to their questions. All I have are open arms and ears. I care for these babies as if they’re my own. And I mourn each death. A fellow funeral director commented to me the other day how she remembers each baby she’s buried. I do as well. I carry these children with me.

I really love what I do, but on these days, I wish with my entire heart that I’d never became a funeral director. I wish that I never knew this life.


Every time I bury a baby, I think about my future. I don’t have any children. I want a baby, more than anything, but I am also terrified.

A baby is brought into this world by love and a baby symbolizes hope. With these precious little lives, we hope that they will know nothing but love and never have to feel any pain. We want these babies to grow into good people and live wonderful lives, so we place our own dreams and wishes into them. And when a baby dies, suddenly, the world doesn’t make any sense.

I have seen things that no one should have to see. I have cared for little ones when their mothers should have been instead. These deaths cannot be justified. This heartache has no words.

If there is one thing that I can tell to women out there who have lost a baby it is this – you are still a mother, even if your arms are empty. If you have carried life inside of you, not even death can take that title away. Your grief is real and I wish more than anything that I could fix it. But since I can’t, I will continue to do my job as best as I can. And I will pray that I never have to do a funeral for another little one. But if I do, I will take care of them and love them as if they are my own. Because these little babies deserve to be loved, even in death, even by a funeral director.

One word.

My brother travels a lot. Before he leaves on one of his trips, he does research so he is as prepared as he can be. One thing that he tries to do is learn certain phrases of these different languages so he’s not completely in the dark while traveling.

It was during a conversation that we were having as he described to me his journey to learn some basic Norwegian that I mentioned how I’d love to learn some Polish.

My ancestors came from Poland, and although I’ve never been, I’ve always been very interested with my heritage. So one day, my brother gave me Pimsleur Basic Polish. An interactive CD that is supposed to help you learn – you guessed it – Polish.

Yesterday I was driving and since it’s been a while, I decided to pop the CD in. It was going quite well until the voice on the CD asked, “How do you begin to ask a female a yes or no question?”

“Easy!” I thought to myself and out loud I began to say the phrase, “Czy pani”

Then it all went downhill.

All of a sudden, I started to freak out. I had to pull over to the side of the road because I could feel my eyes begin to swell with tears.

Pani is what Eddie used to call me.

“How are you doing today, pani?” he used to mumble as he walked through the door of the funeral home. I’d smile and he’d laugh as he took his normal place in the chair besides my desk. Eight months today he’s been gone. Eight. Months. And while I normally think I’m doing very well in coping with his death I was blindsided by this one little word while driving.

Grief is a sneaky little bastard. You begin to learn a new normal and then all of a sudden you’re wrapped right back into the hurt and pain like the death has just occurred.

I took a few moments. I shut off the CD and slowly breathed in and out. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Eddie. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish he was still here with me.

I will never pretend that I know everything about grief. I don’t know why I was affected like I was while listening to the CD. Maybe because I subconsciously realized I was coming upon the fourteenth. Maybe because there have been a few things happening in my life that I really wish I could talk to him about. Whatever, it doesn’t even matter. It still sucks.

I just miss him so much. It doesn’t matter how many months pass by, no amount of time can erase the love that I have for him. I will carry him with me for the rest of my life. And I will gladly take all of the sadness and pain; honest. Because grief wouldn’t hurt so much if I didn’t love Eddie so much. That’s what this life is about. That’s the only thing that makes sense. Love.

Maybe next time I pop in Pimsleur Basic Polish I won’t have to stop my car. Or maybe I will. But I do know, whenever I hear the word ‘pani’ I’ll think of Eddie and no matter what, I’ll remember how blessed I was to have him in my life.

 

 

My first home transfer.

I’ve been a little behind on my writing. My intention was to write a new post every week, but I’ve yet to maintain that schedule because I don’t want to force anything. I believe that I do my best writing when it comes naturally; when I have something on my mind that I would like to share. So in the meantime, I’m linking one of my YouTube videos below.

This one was apparently really controversial! Who would have thought? Watch below to hear the story of my first ever home transfer.  If there are any funeral professionals out there who have advice on doing a home transfer, please comment it below. I believe with my whole heart that the only way to grow and better serve the community is to share our knowledge and resources with others, especially young funeral professionals who are the future of this industry. Thanks in advance for all of your suggestions.

Little Miss Funeral is on YouTube!

So for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might not be aware that I recently started my own YouTube channel!

I thought that this could be another way for me to reach out to people and express my thoughts on the death care industry. Just another way to get people talking about death, ya know? I posted my first video below, 10 Things About Little Miss Funeral. If you like the video, give it a thumbs up and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss anything that I post! Oh, and I have another video coming out tomorrow so stay tuned!

 

 

Thanks for all the support, comments, likes and shares. They mean more to me than you all could ever know.

On handling negativity.

I’ve learned a lot of important lessons while being a funeral director. Lessons that I don’t believe I would have been blessed with in my young age if it were not for the career I’ve chosen. I’m forever thankful for that.

I’m learning a lot of other lessons through sharing myself and my journey online.

I was just going through some of my old posts when I came upon one comment in particular in which the person who wrote it had nothing good to say about me. Honestly, it got me down.

That’s the thing about openly sharing things through the internet. You’re inviting people in. These people are only getting a glimpse of who you are and what you do. And like my mama always says, not everyone is going to like you.

I feel like people read what I post because they’re curious. I’m a funeral director and that’s not a common career choice. I’d be curious too, if this wasn’t my ‘normal’. But people don’t like me. I’m not saying that people don’t like ‘Lauren”, but people don’t like “Lauren the Funeral Director”. They don’t like me because I represent one of the worst experiences of their lives. I am an evil necessity.

After reading this particular comment and feeling low because of it for a moment (or longer, let’s be real) I quickly realized that this person was judging me for a mere glimpse into who I am as a person. They have no idea who I am, as a whole. And I could let their words bother me, or I could shake it off, because one person’s opinion on me does not define my worth.

I’m going to keep sharing my ideas and experiences so I’m going to continue to invite people into my online world. But I hope, that I can invite in more people who think deeply about their lives and their mortality. And my wish, is that these people would think a little harder about how they live their lives. I hope, that I inspire people to hug their loved ones a little tighter and say “I’m sorry” when they’re wrong. I hope that these people talk to their families about their own final arrangements, so when their time on this earth is complete, their family is a little more prepared.

There are always going to be people who don’t like you, but do you know what’s awesome about that? Their negativity is not your problem. If someone holds hurtful words or hatred in their heart, they are poisoning themselves, not you. These words can only hurt you if you let them. So pick yourself up and brush it off, because you are amazing! You hold the power to change lives, so be the sunshine on a person’s face, not a cloud over their head.

You can like me or hate me, but I know who I am and I’m proud of the women that I’m constantly becoming. And eventually, you’re going to need someone like me who is involved in the death care industry. (But hopefully, that’s not for a very long time.)

When you want to help.

My mom told me once that ever since I was a little girl I had always wanted to please everyone. I don’t think she meant it as a compliment.

When I see people in need I want to help. If someone is hurting, I want to take away their pain. I want everyone to be happy, and when it comes to my family and friends, I would rather put myself in an uncomfortable position than them.

I think that’s one of the things that drew me into funeral service in the first place. I help people when they can’t help themselves and that makes me feel good. That feeling helps me look past a lot of crap that goes on in this world. Helping people gives my life meaning.

I don’t have unlimited money. Far from it, actually. I struggle in my personal life to pay all my bills, put money aside for savings and spend some on enjoyment. I try to have balance, but you know how life is. Recently, I donated some money to Angels for Evelyn, a beautiful little girl who is a family member of my hearse driver. It may not have been much, but sometimes there are others who need it more than me.

For all the problems I have in my life, I have my husband, my dog and we have our health. So I don’t really have any problems.

I guess that this is one of those nights where I’m up way to late thinking about things that I cannot change. But I can donate what little I have and I can offer up prayers to the One who does have the power to change our lives.

So to those who are still reading this, can you all comment your favorite charities below? Or some GoFundMe accounts that are close to your heart? I recently learned about the Lucky Fin Project and would have never heard about that if it weren’t for another good friend of mine. Sometimes, we discredit the differences we make by just raising awareness. And we all can make a difference.

What Little Miss Funeral Wears (when she volunteers for a golf outing.)

This post is a little bit different.

I was challenged by ThirdLove, which is a bra and underwear company, to style an outfit around a strapless bra. My first question to them was simple; you know I’m a funeral director, right?!

After thinking about it for a minute, I figured that it wasn’t such a bad idea, since many people who check out my outfit posts are women, and you know, we use that stuff. The only thing was, I was trying to think of a situation where I would need a strapless bra for an outfit within the funeral profession.

Enter the WNY Funeral Directors Golf Outing.

Even though this was the 5th year for the golf outing, this was my first time volunteering. My friend Jack actually created/organizes/runs this event, and all I can say is…wow. The money raised benefits the local Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, and the amount of hard work that goes into it is incredible.

I asked Jack what the dress code was and he said casual. This outfit ended up being my interpretation of  ‘casual’. There’s actually a funny story behind this outfit; one day, I was with my mom and she wore this exact jumpsuit. I immediately became obsessed with it and when I found out that she recently got it at Old Navy, I went out and bought one for myself. The only thing is now I have to tell her when I’m planning on wearing it so we don’t show up someplace like twins! If anything, I think it just proves that I have a stylish mama!

Since I’m so short, I almost always wear a heel. Because I was going to be on a golf course all day, I wanted to try to be a little practical, so I wore these Aerosole wedges. Honestly, they were so comfortable and my feet didn’t hurt at all!

Lastly, I might have been a little extra, but I threw on this wide brim hat because I’m honestly afraid of the sun and didn’t want to burn. Pale Lauren – 1, Sun – 0.

Overall, over $10,000 was raised from this event! If you’re interested in donating anything as well, you can do so here!

And that bracelet that I’m wearing? That’s for the Lucky Fin Project. Jack has a beautiful baby girl who was born with a limb difference and we raised some money for that charity as well. It’s something that I never even heard of before and it was awesome to be able to learn more about it. It was such an a great day and I’m really looking forward to volunteering next year.

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Jumpsuit – Old Navy (can be found here)

Wedges – Aerosoles (can be found here)

Hat – H&M (similar style here)

Bracelet – Lucky Fin Project

Promo Code for ThirdLove – TLJLY10

My husband Josiah LeRoy took these photos of me in Ridge Lawn Cemetery in Cheektowaga, NY.

Five things that I do for me.

One of my favorite aspects of this job is also my least favorite thing about this job; the schedule. Or, should I say, lack thereof.

Since I’m not working 9-5’s I’m never looking at the clock mentally willing the hands to move faster. There is no ‘clock out’ time. This can work to my advantage because basically, I work when the funeral home in busy and when it’s not, I don’t. Because of this, I’m never bored. That’s a huge plus.

But you see, having no schedule can really be difficult sometimes. I just had a friend ask me when my next day off is so we can get together. I couldn’t answer her because I don’t have days off. I mean, I do have ‘days off’ but I never realize it until the day is over. I live by my phone. I can be out to eat with family and if the phone rings, I work. That’s a huge negative.

I try really hard to make time for me; I have to. If I don’t do things for myself and make it a priority, I begin to burn out very quickly. So below, I thought of five things that I do for me. These are not activities that I do with my husband, or girlfriends, although at times they may join me. These are things that I do because they are healthy and good for me. These are things that I enjoy doing. Things that help clear my mind and breathe.

None of these activities have anything to do with the funeral profession, but I think that’s the point. Sometimes, you need hobbies and activities to get your mind out of the death-filled life that you find yourself in. These activities remind me that I’m so much more than a funeral director, but they also refresh me so that I can be a better funeral director. Hope you enjoy!

5.) Go to the dog park.

I love taking my dog Lindy Ruff to the dog park. A lot of times, my brother will join me, but I go by myself a lot, too. Not only is it healthy for my pup, but it gets me out in fresh air. There is an awesome park, Knox Farms, that I go to all the time. There is a huge fenced in area where I can sit for hours…and I mean hours, and watch my dog play with others. I have no idea why but I find it so relaxing! There is also a pond and trails so I can walk Lindy, too. And one of my favorite things about this park is that there is a little library hidden among the trees on one of the trails! If I’m having a bad day or just need some nature this is a go to for me.

4.) Get my nails done.

I have  a horrible habit of biting my nails. I’ve done this since I was little. So, I will mentally tell myself that if I stop I can get rewarded by getting a manicure and let me tell you, that does the trick! There is also something about having fresh nails that makes you feel like you can take on the world! I get pampered a little and feel great about myself in the process. It’s a win/win!

3.) Sewing/Cosplay.

My husband has pop culture media website, The Geekiverse. I always described myself as a geek by association, because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have gotten into most of this stuff. But the thing is, the more I learned about it the more into this stuff I became. Enter cosplaying. I was introduced to cosplaying through Nickel City Con and immediately became obsessed. My sister-in-law does help me with this activity, because I cannot sew nearly as well as she can, but it’s still something that I do because I enjoy it. It’s extremely relaxing actually making these outfits and it’s a blast to be able to wear them to events! It’s something that is so completely opposite the funeral profession and it’s a nice little break for me.

2.) Get a massage.

This is something new that my husband and I have gotten into. About four months ago, we both had gift cards for a massage, so we booked our appointments back to back. I’m very particular when it comes to massage because I’ve had a couple that weren’t that great. But I have recently found my massage therapist and I am hanging onto her tight! Not only does it relax me, but it is healthy for me. About once a month, I turn off my phone, close my eyes and just enjoy being in the moment and having my stress melt away.

1.) Ballet.

You guys saw this coming, right? I mean after my last post in the tutu outfit you had to see this coming!? Ballet is something that I’ve recently found. About a year ago, I had a girlfriend of mine introduce me to Classical Ballet of WNY, a legit studio that produces actual ballerinas. Lucky for us, they have an adult ballet program for those who came to the art late. I currently take class two times a week and not only is it exercise, it is simply something that I look forward to. I know that I’m not that great, but it’s discipline and something that I can actually track my progress of. I love it and I can’t imagine a time when I would not want to do it!