little miss funeral

an average girl working at your not so average job

What Little Miss Funeral Wears (when it was supposed to be a quiet day.)

Another day another outfit.

I didn’t start my day with the idea in my head that I’d be blogging my outfit, yet here we are. Today was supposed to be calm. I went to bed last night thinking that all I had to do at work today was to meet a family for a visitation. Oh, how wrong I was.

Shortly after my alarm went off this morning, my phone rang. It was my boss letting me know that we had gotten two death calls in the middle of the night and I had to meet both families. At first I didn’t think it was a problem since I had nothing on my schedule, so I got dressed and drove to work.

I am a fan of dresses. I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it a million times more. They are so easy for me to throw on in the morning.  I’ve been putting belts on them to cinch the waist because so many of my dresses are shapeless, but they are oh so comfortable! It was cold this morning (I live in Buffalo, so it doesn’t matter if it’s June, it can still be cold!) so I wore some tights. Quickly add a necklace, put on my favorite shoes and I was out the door.

I got to work and nothing went as it should have. My easy day quickly turned into a running all over the place doing fifty things at once kind of day. It’s okay, though, because I got through it. Everything ended up working out, even if I mumbled one or two bad words under my breath during the process. I decided to blog about my outfit when I got home because when you’ve had a crazy day sometimes you just need to spend some time with your husband as he tries to make you laugh for photos. No matter what, I can always count on him to put a smile on my face. I am a blessed lady.

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Dress – BCBG (can be found here)

Belt – H&M (similar style here)

Sweater – Loft (similar style here)

Tights – Rite Aid (similar style here)

Necklace – Forever21 (similar style here)

Shoes – Chinese Laundry (similar style here)

My husband Josiah LeRoy took this photo of me in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga, NY. Thanks for making me smile, B.

A list of sad songs that I love.

Not too long ago, ASD’s Public Relationship Specialist, Jess Fowler, wrote a post called 6 Songs That Help Me Grieve. In this post, she talks about the anniversary of her dad’s passing and how she uses music to grieve. The thing that I enjoyed about this post was the songs that she included. Jess truly has great taste in music. We actually bonded over a shared favorite band, Rilo Kiley a few years back, so I wasn’t surprised that I loved all the tracks she listed.

Growing up, I enjoyed music that my husband describes as ’emo’. I mean, sure, I had Myspace back in the day. And yeah, I may have owned one or two pairs of black baggy pants from Hot Topic, and maybe I was obsessed with Benji from Good Charlotte, but…I’m not helping my case here am I?

The thing is, I’ve always enjoyed music that made me feel something. I’m drawn to music and artists that can make me feel all of their emotions, sadness included. My husband doesn’t get this. He doesn’t understand why I don’t listen to music that brings out more positive feelings. And the reason I don’t just listen to ‘happy’ music all the time is because I’m human. I experience it all, sadness included. And sometimes, you just need a good cry.

So getting back to Jess; her post inspired me to create a list of my own. Songs that I listen to when I want to cry. Or songs that I listen to when I’m in a bad mood. Heck, these are just songs that I listen to when I want to feel something. So, let’s get started.

Ray Lamontagne – Empty

God. What is it about Ray? I am in love with this man’s voice. My father introduced me to Ray Lamontagne a few years back when he picked up his CD from the library. My dad and I have similar taste in music (most of the time). I think his exact words were, “Lauren, do you know that commercial with the dogs and the bone? This is the guy who sings that song!” Of course, he was talking about his song Trouble. When I first heard Empty, I turned it as loud as I could, sat in my car and let it consume me. I love the violin. I love Ray’s raspy voice. I love it all.

Favorite lyrics: “Well, I looked my demons in the eyes
laid bare my chest, said “Do your best, destroy me.
You see, I’ve been to hell and back so many times,
I must admit you kind of bore me.”

Josh Groban and Kelly Clarkson – All I ask of You

I grew up in a house that listened to the soundtrack from The Phantom of the Opera every day while we ate dinner. My mother took me to see the show for the first time when I was eight years old. I lived and breathed Phantom as a child. I don’t know if I can put into words what Phantom actually means to me. So, when Josh Groban came out with his CD, Stages, I was ecstatic when I found this track included on it.

The moment my husband hears the first notes from this song, he will walk out of the room. Because soon after, I will be bawling my eyes out. And I’m not talking about a few tears rolling down my cheek. I’m talking about ugly crying. I listen to this when I had a bad day and just need to get my emotions out.

Favorite lyrics: “Share each day with me, each night, each morning
Say you love me
You know I do
Love me, that’s all I ask of you.”

Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On

Since we are on the topic of ugly crying.

GUYS, I CAN’T. I REALLY CAN’T.

This is one song that I have basically banned because it just makes me SOB. So many emotions. The words, Celine’s voice, the music video with scenes from the movie, so many feels. I need to stop, because I’m getting emotional just typing all of this.

I’LL NEVER LET GO JACK, I’LL NEVER LET GO.

Favorite lyrics: “Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never let go ’til we’re gone”

Mumford & Sons – Where Are You Now

Another one of my favorite bands. I become obsessed with Mumford & Sons back in college. Once again, there is just something about Marcus’s voice and I cannot get enough of it. It was difficult for me to just pick one song, but Where Are You Now brings back memory of heartache and past relationships that so many people can identify with.

Favorite lyrics: “You said no one would ever know
The love that we had shared.
As I took my leave to go
It was clear you didn’t care.”

Rilo Kiley – A Man/Me/Then Jim

Jenny Lewis is my girl, hands down. This song is definitely one of my top five all time favorite songs. But beware, it is a sad song. I mean, it starts with a suicide and shows ‘the slow fade of love’ from three different perspectives; A Man, Me, and then Jim. This is another song that I like to turn all the way up and just breathe in. Does that make sense?  I’m writing a post about songs that make me sad, so does any of this really make any sense?

Favorite lyric: “Diana, Diana, Diana, I would die for you
I’m in love with you completely
I’m afraid that’s all I can do”
She said, “You can sleep upon my doorstep
You can promise me indifference, Jim
But my mind is made up
And I’ll never let you in again”

Gregory And The Hawk – A Wish

This is another one of my college songs. It was never about Gregory And The Hawk, but more about this particular song. This song is about being young, confused and caring for someone more than they care for you. It makes me feel vulnerable.

Favorite lyrics: “And it’s hard to find
What I want
When it’s buried beneath the biggest rock”

Ed Sheeran – Supermarket Flowers

When I bought Ed’s most recent album and listened to Supermarket Flowers, my first reaction was, “Wow.” I know that I’m very open when I write about my feelings and job, but this song just invited us all into a very personal time in his life.

But there is something else that makes this song special to me.

If you’ve read my blog before, you are aware that in December I lost Eddie. To this day, I still struggle with his passing. About a month ago, I was alone at the funeral home and decided to yell at Eddie, something that I do often when I miss him. I was in the middle of telling him the nerve he had for leaving me, when all of a sudden, this song came on my Pandora station. Immediate tears.

Now, every time I listen to this song, I think of him.

Favorite Lyrics “Oh, I’m in pieces. It’s tearing me up but I know
A heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved.”

I hope you all enjoyed this list of songs. And serious thanks to Jess from ASD. Thanks for being my inspiration to write this post and thank you for being so open about your own grief.

What Little Miss Funeral Wears (when she has NOTHING to wear).

I have been a very busy person for the entire month of May.

It all started out with a family vacation that somehow managed to sneak up on me in the beginning of the month. This was something my parents had planned for us months ago, and in the back of my head, it had always seemed so far off. But one day, I blinked, and I had to have a bag packed full of bathing suits and beachy dresses. Somethings that I just don’t have in my wardrobe.

When we came back, I found myself on the road going to Ohio for their Funeral Director Convention. I spent two awesome days there where I spoke on the topic of Compassion Fatigue. By the time my husband and I got home, we found ourselves busy again with his company, The Geekiverse, and Buffalo’s Nickel City Comic Con. If any of you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen me dressed as Snow White for this event.

Needless to say, by the time all of these things were over, my husband and I found ourselves drowning in laundry. Literally. If you were to open my closet right this second, you would find about three black tops, one short skirt and a handful of dresses that I haven’t worn in years, but that I like enough to keep.

And so begins our journey for this “What Little Miss Funeral Wears”.

Yesterday was busy at the funeral home. Even though it’s a holiday weekend, we have visitations going every day and services following. So behold my anxiety as I opened my closet yesterday to find that I have still not completed my buckets and buckets of laundry and had NOTHING to wear. (I’m not being dramatic guys, truly, nothing!)

Being in a rush and upset at myself for not thinking ahead, I grabbed this dress that I bought last year for a wedding. My mama had been encouraging me to get outside of my color comfort zone and in purchasing this navy blue dress I had hoped that we had come to some sort of compromise.

My only dilemma, it seemed to ‘wedding’ for me. (Maybe not, but I associated this dress with a wedding which meant it didn’t seem funeral appropriate to me.) So I grabbed a belt that I had not touched in over a year and cinched the waist. I then threw this old cover up over it, looked in the mirror and didn’t fully hate what I saw.

And in case you’re all just loving my hair this is nineteen year old Lauren’s signature. AKA, “I’m running late so if I throw a whole lot of mouse in my hair maybe I can fool people into thinking I tried.”

I wanted to include two photos today, because I can’t stop laughing at the first one! My face in it is so funny! I had just finished yelling at my husband for taking selfies of himself and thought you all might get a kick out of my death stare. It’s not too mean here because my husband is the cutest around so even when I’m mad at him I can’t stay that way for long!

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Dress – BCBG (similar style here)

Belt – Loft (similar style here)

Jacket – Forever 21 (similar style here)

Shoes – Chinese Laundry (similar style here)

My husband Josiah LeRoy took these photos of me in Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga, NY.

Why I’m always thinking about my death.

Any time I pass by a cemetery I think if I’d like that to be my eternal resting place.

Any time I hear of a tragedy I think of what would have happened if I had been there.

Any time I hear of someone passing away from an illness I think of how I’d react if I would have been in their shoes.

A lot of people may see this as me being a pessimist. Why would I spend my days thinking about all of this negative stuff? Why don’t I just focus on the happy things in life?

Because life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.

Working in a funeral home, I am surrounded by more death on a daily basis than most people will have to face throughout their entire lives. When you’re surrounded by something constantly, it’s difficult to not think about it. But I see the death in my life as a blessing.

By understanding that everyone I love will one day die, I am able to cherish every moment I have with them as if it were my last. I don’t have the luxury of saying, “I’ll reach out to them tomorrow” because tomorrow may never come. By thinking about their deaths, I am able to truly appreciate and love them with everything I have in this moment.

By constantly thinking about my own death, I am able to live my life in the here and now. I think to myself, “If this is my last day, how would I want it to go?” This thought doesn’t mean that I live recklessly by completing bucket list items, such as skydiving or participating with the Running of the Bulls, but instead, making me think about my actions.

If I die tomorrow, I want to be kind to every person I meet today. If I die tomorrow, I want people to say that they enjoyed my company. I want to tell people I appreciate them and that they matter to me.

And sure, some days, maybe I will have opportunities to live a little more recklessly. Sometimes, I think that people don’t understand that it’s not necessarily the experiences you have in life that matters, but who you surround yourself with. If I never make it to Italy, in the end, it won’t matter, because every single morning  get to wake up next to someone who loves me. That alone is enough to make my life rich.

But above all, when I die, I do not want my last moments to be of anger or hatred. I want to close my eyes and feel love inside of me as I slip into my next life. That way, I can be surrounded by the greatest love there is and tell Him that during my time on Earth, I tried to show others the love, forgiveness and compassion that He has shown to me.

You see, I am always thinking about my death, so I can savor every moment of my life.

What Little Miss Funeral Wears; it’s been a while.

A girl emailed me the other day and told me that she had recently been hired at a funeral home. She asked me to post some of my day-to-day outfits, and guys, I’m glad that she did. I’ve always loved clothes and I really enjoyed sharing what I wore in the past on Little Miss Funeral.

I follow so many different fashion bloggers and get inspired daily by what they wear. My closet is a little more Wednesday Addams themed, but I still get happy when I throw an outfit together. Although my color scheme is, well, dark, maybe some of you reading this will get some ideas, too.

Today I had two visitations at the funeral home. This outfit is legit my go to. I’ve had this skirt forever and wear it almost every day. I love that it’s like a skater skirt because I can move around in it and still be very comfortable. I have a black lace shirt on to make this outfit just a little less boring. And since it was warmer out today, I had on my gray cardigan (instead of black) so I didn’t look too morbid. Not kidding, if you were to ever visit me at the funeral home there is a 90% chance I’d be wearing this exact outfit.

Although my mama hates wedges, they are my go to funeral shoes. Since I’m so short, I always wear a heel. Wedges are perfect because my heels don’t sink into the grass at the cemetery. Been there, done that. (It’s no fun.)

If I wear tights they are ALWAYS opaque. I want my tights as black as my soul.

(lol, jk.)

But seriously, I’m very lucky because I do not have a strict dress code at the funeral home. This outfit is comfortable and easy for me to put together so I’m out the door fast.  Two things that I love. I could have jazzed up this outfit a little more by adding a necklace, but I was in a hurry and didn’t think about it. So here you have it, me in all my funeral fashion glory:

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Skirt – Loft (similar style here)

Shirt – Loft (similar style here)

Cardigan – Loft (similar style here)

Tights – Rite Aid (buy cheap ones, you will rip them)

Shoes – Chinese Laundry (similar style here)

Seriously, Loft. Can you sponsor me already?

My husband Josiah LeRoy took this photo of me in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga, NY.

How actions can speak louder than words.

This past week I had a very difficult funeral.

A young person passed away under traumatic circumstances. During the visitation, I found myself making up excuses to steal their mother away so she could come and sit in the office with me for a few moments. She needed a break.

Each time she would tell me that all of the callers were saying the same thing over and over again to her. She was drowning in her grief as it was, and the amount of people who came to pay their respects was overwhelming her.

I told her that each person would tell her things from a good place in their heart, but during times of grief words fall short.

When someone dies, no matter the circumstances, we don’t know what to say. We tell the grieving that we are sorry for their loss. That their loved one is in a better place. Or that their loved one is not suffering anymore.

These are sayings that have become so familiar with those of us who visit funeral homes that at times we may not really know what we are saying.

And nothing that you say can make a death better. No words can bring someone back to life. So what do you say? Maybe, instead, it should be what you can do.

You would be amazed at the healing work a hug can do. Or the next time you have to go to a funeral, you could share your favorite story of the deceased with their family. Or maybe in the weeks following the funeral, you’ll stop by with a warm meal, or you could offer to take them out to dinner so they can get out of the house.

Words cannot fix a death, but actions can help us feel less alone.

Words can be empty promises, but actions are proof that people care.

Sometimes, you don’t need to say anything at all. Sometimes, you just need to be there.

I know that this person’s mother appreciated all of her family and friends coming to pay their respects. But I have a feeling that in the days and weeks to come, she’ll remember those who were there for her in other ways a lot more than some of the “I’m sorry for your loss” statements that she received during the funeral.

Carrying them with me.

I still get really sad.

It’s been three months since Eddie died and there are moments when I’m at the funeral home half expecting him to still walk through the front door.

It’s been over two years since my dog Bandit died and sometimes when I walk into my parent’s home I’m still surprised when he’s not sitting on the top steps of the living room.

And even though my grandfather died over fifteen years ago I can still feel tears behind my eyes when I’m in St. Andrew’s Church working a funeral home and the organist starts to play “On Eagle’s Wings”.

But there are a lot of smiles in between the sadness, too.

When I think of Eddie I think of how he protected me and how he allowed me to see the soft and caring side of him. I smile when I remember how I could never travel in his car with him without exiting with so much ash from his cigarettes. Something that I would roll my eyes at when it happened but something that I now miss so much now, dammit.

I find myself smiling on cold days remembering how Bandit used to burrow under the covers of my blanket and keep me warm. And how I would refuse to get up because I knew he was comfortable and how I never wanted to disturb him. I laugh when I watch old videos and hear how he used to snore and make ‘old man’ noises when he slept. Sounds that used to carry me off to sleep.

And when I think of my grandfather, I smile remembering how he always wore that blue sweater, no matter what the weather was like outside. No matter how ratty it ended up getting, he loved it and wouldn’t listen to anyone who told him to take it off. My heart is warm thinking of my grandfather, because I know, truly, what it is like to be the joy in someone else’s life. He was one of the first people who taught me what it means to love and to give to others.

When I think of these people in my life that I’ve loved I think of what a privilege it has been that I got to spend any time with them at all. I think of all the ways that they’ve shaped me into who I am today.

I still get really sad. Time does not heal all wounds, but instead we become warriors who carry the love we’ve shared inside us. It’s okay to never get over a death. But we need to also remember the happy times, because it’s not okay to never move forward.

When dying is beautiful.

When I think of dying I become afraid.

Not of death itself,

but of the act of dying.

I don’t want it to hurt.

I don’t want it to last long.

I want to slip from this life into the next.

And when I think of dying in that way,

as in being born again,

I’m not afraid.

I think of how I’ll feel when I’m with my grandpa again.

And if I think that the ocean is beautiful now,

think of how spectacular it will be in paradise.

When people I love die, I hurt.

I don’t understand it.

But I’m not meant to understand everything.

I’m meant to do my best.

I’m meant to trust in God.

What we have here is only temporary.

But one day when I close my eyes,

I will open them to a permanent love.

A love that fully embraces me.

And when I think of dying in this way

I think death is very beautiful.

Another year older another blog post.

When I drink, I tell people how I really feel about them.

And apparently, I love everyone.

This past week I celebrated my twenty-seventh birthday. My husband organized a little get-together  at a bar with some of our friends. And after two and a half margaritas, I was feeling great. My night basically consisted of me going up to everyone, hugging them, and telling them how amazing I think they all are.

The next day, I saw a few of the same people and started my “sorry for what I said when I was drunk” speech only to be told by them that there is no need for an apology. Some actually said that the next time they’re having a bad day they want to give me a few drinks so I can tell them how great and beautiful they all are.

All kidding aside, I do try my best everyday to channel my ‘drunk Lauren’ and tell the people in my life how much I really do appreciate them. I can’t stress enough how unbelievably blessed I am to have such supportive family and friends in my life. Every year I get a little older which means life gets a little shorter and I never know when my time might run out.

I grew up in a Catholic household and right now we’re in the middle of Lent. I was taught from a young age to ‘give up’ something while never fully understanding the reasoning behind it. This year I struggled back and forth with what to give up and decided against it. I don’t think the purpose is to deprive ourselves of something that we love, but to instead invite more God into our lives. So instead, I’ve been trying to do good deeds for people. These deeds have consisted of small acts and a few larger ones, but through it all I hope to share love with others.

Sometimes I think of how I’d like to be remembered when I die. I am far from a perfect person, which is one of the reasons I need Jesus even more. And even though there are many times that I fall short, I hope to be remembered for showing love to others. Whether it’s during a funeral, family gathering, or a night out with friends. There is so much negativity in this world. Tell someone you love how you really feel. Give them that hug. You never know when time will be up.

A little bit of my mother’s story & a very difficult day.

My mother had a baby that died.

She gave birth to her the day before her own birthday, but for whatever reason, the baby didn’t make it. It was her first child, a little girl.

She told me about it when I was younger and I used to delight in the fact that I had an older sister in Heaven. It was something that I couldn’t comprehend and it’s a loss that I pray I never understand. The baby was buried on top of my mother’s grandparents. Her casket made by an uncle. My father carried her on his lap as the car drove to the cemetery for the burial.

My sister is someone who I don’t think of very often, I’m sad to say. It’s hard to remember someone you’ve never met. Instead, I get little bits and pieces of her from the memories my mother chooses to share with me. And although she’s never said it, I’m positive it’s a loss she still feels very deeply to this day.

Today I had to take the hand print of a little baby who had died in his mother’s womb. This little boy, who was only a few weeks along, and yet I was able to count each and every finger on his little hand. I was able to look upon his little button nose and view his little eyelids gentle closed as if he were merely sleeping.

Today I witnessed death in a way that I wish no one ever has to experience.

And today, I remembered my older sister for the first time in a long time.

I feel such sadness in my heart as I type these words. Sadness for the parents who just a few days ago had so much hope for the future. Sadness for myself, for having to deal with death in instances like this. And sadness for the simple reason that I do not understand why things like this happen.

Not everything in life makes sense.

Some things just suck.