“It’s nice to see you again, Mr…?”

Yesterday an older man approached be during a visitation and gave me a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek.

He asked me how I’ve been, brought up an old employer and congratulated me on my recent marriage; all with a smile on his face. I made small talk with him, smiled back and told him how nice it was to see him again.

I still have no idea who he was.

Last week, I made arrangements with a family and when I opened the door for them, I was greeted by a young man who immediately hugged me. He looked me in the eyes and said how he never would have thought he’d see me in the funeral home again just three months after we buried his mother-in-law.

It took me two days of going through death notices to remember which funeral I previously served his family on.

I have been in the funeral business for about four years now. In that time, I’ve served about five hundred families and ushered them through the death process. Those families have ranged from 2-10 close members, who I often had direct contact with. And sometimes, after a funeral is complete, I just don’t always remember everyone.

It really gets to me, when a person approaches me thanking me for serving their family when their Uncle Fred passed away, and I process every single Fred that I’ve buried in the last four years trying to make a connection. It’s not always this way, there are many people who I’ve made personal connections with and when I pass them in the grocery store or at a restaurant I’ve asked them how they’re doing and how they’re holding up. I like to think that I remember more people than I forget, but once again I am only human.

The thing is, I am the funeral director. These families remember me because for about 72 hours, I gave everything I had to them, hoping to make their journey a little easier.

But one thing I want people to know is that, even if I do not remember serving you right away, I am the person I am today because of you. With every funeral, I gain more knowledge and understanding about life, death and people. I learn different ways to communicate with the grieving and I dig deeper inside of myself to serve in the most fulfilling way possible. So even if I pass you in the grocery store, and don’t remember you by name, please know that by being your funeral director, I have grown more as a person than I would have ever thought possible. And I know that as time goes on and I serve more families, there will be more names I can’t recall and faces that I can’t place. I am, however, comforted by the fact that I know I will have been changed as a funeral director and person for the better because of these people. And that they will be just as much apart of my death care journey as I am to theirs.