little miss funeral

an average girl working at your not so average job

Category: Uncategorized

My father’s socks.

I was sitting on the couch. My dad was next to me, playing on his laptop, with his  feet up on the coffee table. I happened to look down at his feet and noticed his socks. There’s nothing special about the socks that he wears. He’s been wearing the same brand for as long as I can remember. I don’t even know if they’re a ‘brand’ per say. They are the kind of socks that you buy in bulk at a store like Walmart. But for a moment, I focused on them, and then I was catapulted into the future. I saw myself, bringing his clothes to a funeral director so they could dress him in his casket. I saw myself giving his undershirt and socks to them. I saw the funeral director place them to the side, totally unaware of how important they were. My father’s socks. A piece of clothing that is so intimate to him. I was so angry at them. And when I went to yell at them, I saw my face in theirs.

You see, I’ve been doing this job for so long now that sometimes I go through the motions. I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I forget how sacred this work actually is. How I am so fortunate to be able to be invited into someone’s personal space. I hold their socks, underwear, and stockings in my hand. These clothing pieces that often only the closest people in their lives get to see. I forget, and my father’s socks reminded me.

When you work in death care for an extended period of time, you have to learn ways to cope with what you do. You will either burn out from the weight of death or become so hardened that you forget about what has actually happened. Someone has died, and because of that someone else’s world is now forever changed. Hopefully, you will find a third option, which includes compassion and love for the people in your care, with just enough distance for your own mental health. Hopefully you’ll be able to look at a pair of socks and see your own loved ones. And with them present in your mind and heart, dress someone else’s loved one and give them back to their families.

My obituary.

A few months ago I attended the NFDA Women’s Conference. It was an awesome experience, and to help with the costs of the event I applied for a scholarship. I didn’t receive the scholarship (but I got to meet the amazing women who did) and since enough time has passed, I decided to share part of the requirements here on my blog. Shockingly, for a funeral conference, I had to write my own obituary. In the event that I do die sooner rather than later, I hope that Josiah could find inspiration from what I’ve written below.

LEROY, Lauren K. (nee Polanski) – Passed away suddenly at the age of 29.

Lauren was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. The only daughter of Mark and Denise Polanski, Lauren was always the loud little girl growing up. She was so little, in fact, that her nickname was Little Lauren when she was younger. If you asked her mother, she would attest that her small frame came from her diet of only eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. As Lauren would grow, so would her palate, but her love for macaroni would never change.

Growing up, Lauren wanted to be many things, a veterinarian, a teacher, and an actress. But it wasn’t until her grandfather passed away when she was twelve that she decided once and for all that she wanted to be a funeral director. In fact, at the end of his funeral, Lauren would inform her parents of her plan. From that point forward Lauren was focused and had a goal.

Lauren graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Lancaster in 2008 and enrolled into the Mortuary Science program at the New England Institute at Mount Ida College in Newton, MA. It was in mortuary school, that Lauren would meet the professors and professionals that would shape her life. In school, the support and knowledge that she gained from those who took her under their wings would follow her for the rest of her life. She especially always held Al close in her heart. Al was a funeral director in Massachusetts, who showed Lauren that funeral directors are just normal people helping other people, and that they can have fun while doing a professional job. Lauren also always spoke fondly of Sarah, Al’s sidekick and fellow funeral director who answered her questions (no matter how silly) and taught her the importance of coffee in a funeral directors diet.

Lauren came back home after graduation and became licensed in New York State. Then, in 2012 she created a persona that she would use for the rest of her life. Keeping her ‘little’ nickname in mind, Little Miss Funeral was born. Little Miss Funeral would start off as a blog, and grow into a YouTube account that she would use to share her thoughts and ideas on the funeral industry while also answering questions and educating the public. Lauren would always be grateful for that platform as it introduced her to many wonderful people in the funeral industry.

Lauren married the love her life and high school sweetheart Josiah LeRoy on June 14, 2014. Josiah, who Lauren lovingly called “Bee” was always her support system and biggest fan. They traveled many places together, their favorite being Hawaii. Lauren and Josiah were a true testament that young love can last, as they started dating when they were only fifteen years old.

Lauren’s life was finally completed on August 24, 2018 when her and Josiah welcomed their little flower, Daisy Alice, into the world. Daisy was truly the one child that they prayed for and she filled Lauren’s life with more joy than anything else. Lauren’s one wish is that her baby always knows how much her mama loves her, and that she can accomplish anything that she sets her mind to.  Daisy, is beautiful, kind and strong, and is the best legacy that Lauren could ever hope to leave behind.

Lauren leaves behind her beloved husband Josiah, her darling daughter Daisy, and her loyal pup, Lindy Ruff, named after the famous hockey player.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that you go enjoy an ice cream cone in Lauren’s memory.

Funeral Vlogs

A few months back, I received some comments on my YouTube channel asking for a more detailed look into my day to day life as a funeral director. Since it’s ever changing, I thought that it would be fun to bring you all along for the ride. From this thought my funeral vlogs were born. The only thing is, since I do not own my own funeral home and since I did not have permission from the families I was serving to go into great detail (show embalming, cosmetics on the deceased, etc.) these vlogs ended up being little clips of me sitting in my car and talking to my phone about what I’d just been doing. They were quite the hit, even to my confusion of why someone would find me talking into my cell phone amusing. I’ve compiled all of them below. Once again, keep in mind that this just shows a very limited view into my day to day life. Regardless, I hope you’re all able to gain a little insight into what it’s like being a funeral director.

*Sips Coffee*


A little update.

My voice is becoming quiet. Something that I didn’t anticipate happening. I know through the years that I’ve been blogging I’ve gone through times where I’ve said less and times when I’ve written more. But this is different.

Becoming a mother has made me different in ways that I could have never seen coming. These days I’m on maternity leave, snuggling my girl, and dedicating my entire existence to her. I feed her, I change her, I love her. When she cries I answer.

The funeral industry has given me many gifts throughout the years. I’ve learned many lessons spending my days inside the doors of a funeral home. I’ve learned that life is short, death doesn’t discriminate, and that you should do what makes you happy. These days, I’m happy spending every moment with my girl.

When I do return to work, it’s going to be difficult to find balance. I’ve struggled with depression and compassion fatigue in the past due to the hours that I’ve dedicated to my job. Things are going to have to be different. I have something much more important now to dedicate my life to. I still have some time on my maternity leave, but when I do start working again, I’m certain I’ll have a lot to talk about. In the mean time, thanks for checking in. We’re all doing fine.

What Little Miss Funeral Wears (when she’s seven months pregnant.)

Morbid maternity photo shoot take two.

Seriously, that’s all I see when I look at these photos. But alas, I am currently (at least at the time I type this) seven months pregnant and still working full-time (and sometimes overtime) at the funeral home. All in all, I still feel pretty good. I’m getting bigger and all that means is clothes are getting more difficult to find and my back is starting to hurt.

I have so far refused to buy any maternity clothes. I have, however, experienced the blessing of others buying/loaning me maternity wear. This dress is from one of those angels.

I have a cousin who had a baby a few years back and she let me borrow this dress. Although clothes are getting more difficult to find, I’m still sticking with my black/gray/white theme as much as I can. When I look at myself in the mirror, I just see myself getting bigger and bigger, so keeping to my favorite color scheme helps me to still feel like myself. Since last month, I’ve retired my favorite stilettos and have switched to these thick high heels instead. My feet/ankles are not swelling (yet) so I’m still pretty comfortable wearing heels during the day. I do, however, take them off when I’m sitting by my desk. I hope I can wear heels for the remainder of my pregnancy, but we’ll see how it goes. One day at a time!

Since I am getting bigger, one thing that I love to do is wear a belt with my dresses. It makes me feel like I’m showing off the baby bump that I can no longer hide instead of feeling like a balloon. Even though I am so excited for this little baby and would gain a million pounds as long as it’s born happy and healthy, I still am very uncomfortable with the changes in my body. Being out in the community and around people, I’ve always been aware that people judge me based on how I look. One huge thing that I’ve noticed is how excited families get when they walk into the funeral home and see me. It’s as if my pregnancy sheds a light, if only for a moment. After all, I’ve always said, people love babies and puppies.



That last photo has me laughing! Trying to look like a model, actually looking like a whale! If pregnancy has taught me one thing it’s to just roll with it, especially when you’re feeling large and out of control.

Dress – Liz Lange Maternity (similar style here)

Shoes – Nine West (similar style here)

Belt – H&M (similar style here)

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


Addressing something I’ve noticed within the funeral community.

There’s something that I’ve been noticing in the funeral industry that I’d like to address, however, I’m not certain how I’d like to go about it. I’ve been looking at my computer screen for quite some time already, pondering if I should even address it. But I’ve always been honest on my blog and I’ve always used it as an outlet to get my emotions out, so here I am, typing away.

I’ve always loved the funeral community that I’ve found online. I have been able to make some great friends and have valuable resources thanks to the internet and other people similar to me who work in the death care industry and put themselves out there online. I’ve always been proud of fellow funeral professionals who stand up for what they believe in and who put the care of families and the dead above all else. After all, I became a funeral director to help people. I’m still a funeral director because I believe that I’m good at helping people.

But recently, online, I’ve been seeing a divide. I’m certain that this divide has been here for a while, but I’ve just either been ignoring it or ignorant to it. Either way, the other day I noticed a comment on a social media platform that was very obviously directed at me. When I looked into the person who made this comment, I noticed that the hashtag #deathpositive was used in their profile.

I love the death positive movement. It encourages people to speak openly about death, all the while being able to stare our own mortality in the face. Part of this movement involves individuals who want to take back death by taking care of their loved ones directly in death. More family and less funeral directors. A concept that many people in the Western culture still aren’t completely comfortable with. You see, our society has been sweeping death ‘under the rug’ for so long, that we don’t want to see it or think about it. If we don’t get our hands dirty it didn’t happen. And when a death ‘hasn’t happened’ (although, spoiler alert, it actually has happened) that can complicate our grief because we’re not being an active participant in mourning the loss of someone who we love.

The death positive movement is something that we desperately need.

I became a funeral director to help people. And I realize that my viewpoints do not match everyone’s viewpoints. I realize that how I believe things should be done isn’t a universal truth. As a funeral director, I believe that it is my job to be able to supply myself with as much knowledge as I possibly can so I can be a resource for those when they do have to go through a loss. I call myself a traditional funeral director because that is the setting that I currently work in. This does not mean that I believe this is the only way to do things. I wish that my community had more green options when it came to funerals. I love the beauty and simplicity that comes along with a natural burial. My mother on the other hand wants to be cremated and has informed me numerous times if I don’t abide by her wishes she will haunt me. And I’ve seen families cry tears of thanksgiving as they’ve looked down upon their loved one who died such a tragic death, but were able to see them one last time because of the hours that went into embalming and restoring them. But still, by calling myself a traditional funeral director, there are some in the profession who immediately look down upon me or believe that I’m doing funerals the ‘wrong’ way.

All funerals are good funerals, if the care of the family and deceased are the top priority. As funeral directors, we honor the life of those now gone by treating their bodies with respect. We also provide a starting point for the grief process for those who are left with a hole in their heart by these deaths. You see, we cannot sweep death under the rug. We have to look it in its eye, acknowledge that it has occurred and that someone we love will no longer be with us. We have to honor that life the best way we know how and begin to pick up the pieces and reconstruct our life around that loss.


As someone involved in the funeral profession, I cannot be involved in what I’ve been seeing with other funeral professionals. I see so much of a divide between traditional funeral directors and new aged funeral directors.

Now do not get me wrong, I have seen many people involved in this career, who frankly, should not be. The minute you put your own gains above the people you are serving is the minute that you should no longer be in this profession. This is a service industry, after all.

And I appreciate those who are so passionate about a certain aspect of funeral service. For instance, Melissa N. Unfred, known as the Modern Mortician, is such a passionate woman who works hard everyday to be able to provide families with green burial options in and around Austin, Texas. She has so much knowledge and sees the beauty and dignity that comes along with a simple burial. Not only does her work help our planet, but she’s able to involve families in the final care of their loved ones, while still being a professional who can handle the details. Add in her therapy dog Kermit (who is amazing, by the way AND Texas’ first certified therapy dog in funeral service) and you know that by working with Melissa you’re going to be in the best hands. I’m thankful that I have gotten the opportunity to meet her and Kermit and I’m proud to be able to call her a colleague and friend.

Not every ‘traditional funeral director’ feels the same about her, though. She sometimes shares information that old school funeral directors do not want her to share and that has not made her very popular around them.

You see, the death positive movement talks and is open about death. This means talking about the industry and putting things out there that have previously been behind closed doors.

My entire career is based on being honest. I have always been very open about what I do as a funeral director. And if I continue to be honest, I can answer questions that people have regarding death and funerals. Embalming is not going to be right for every family,  for instance. But if someone asks, I can explain the process and tell them the pros and cons behind it. I can explain why it’s beneficial in certain instances and unnecessary in others. I can continue to be a resource by providing information and letting a family decide what option is best for them. Because when they lose someone they love, my personal opinions on death do not matter. What matters is how they want to honor their loved one, and I should be able to help them accomplish that.

This profession should not be an “us against them” fight.

This profession should be filled with caring people who want to help others. People who are passionate and arm themselves with knowledge and resources to serve families during one of the most difficult times of their lives. We cannot grow and change and be able to provide all different options to families if we are constantly pointing our fingers at others and proclaiming that “they’re doing funerals the wrong way!” We have to be able to work together as a team, lift each other up, and realize that when we are unfamiliar with a certain aspect of this profession, that there are others out there who can be valuable resources if we allow them to be. There is no one way to do a funeral. The minute professionals in this industry realize that, the better they’ll be able to serve families that need them. Because once again, shouldn’t that be the reason behind joining this profession?

 I am proud of the work that I do and the platform that I’m blessed with to be able to share it. And I’m going to continue with my journey, no matter where it may lead me, being positive, helping others, and hopefully growing my own personal funeral community by uplifting those who are making a difference.

St. Jude’s Novena.

I’m currently at my parents house (we have a family dinner every Tuesday) and my mom came up to me and asked what I know about publishing. So I asked her, “Like in a newspaper?” And she looked at me and said, “I guess” and gave me this novena.

After looking at it, I asked her if she wanted me to publish it on my blog, and she said yes. (Selfish reasons, I told her she better be praying for me.)

If you’re interested, I hope it can be helpful and a comfort for you.

St. Jude’s Novena

May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, glorified, loved and preserved throughout the world now and forever. Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us. St. Jude, worker of miracles, pray for us. St. Jude, helper of the hopeless, pray for us. Say this prayer 9 times a day for 9 days. By the 9th day your prayer will be answered. It has never been known to fail. Publication must be promised. Thank you St. Jude. T.M.D.

Finding Resilience.

I actually did not know that there was a name for it until I started writing a presentation for the Ohio Funeral Director’s Association Convention back in 2016.

I was going to be speaking to college kids and young resident funeral director’s. My topic was Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Funeral Director, and I figured that I would just talk about my own experiences. Since I was so young when I first started working in the funeral home I had a unique perspective. Since I was a female I found myself having an even more ‘unique’ experience. I thought I could pass on some things I learned; or at least things that I went through.

Compassion fatigue. com·pas·sion fa·tigue noun

1.) Indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals.

2.) A state experienced by those helping people or animals in distress; it is an extreme state of tension and preoccupation with the suffering of those being helped to the degree that it can create a secondary traumatic stress for the helper. – Dr. Charles Figley

I just happened to stumble across the term on google. The more I looked into it the more I realized that compassion fatigue was something that I suffered from early on in my career. When the demands of the job outweighed my self-care. When I worked so much with the grieving and dead that I didn’t know how to distance myself, or put myself first. I may have talked about compassion fatigue for only two minutes during my presentation. Once it was over, I was stunned at the amount of people who approached me stating that it was something that they suffered from, as well. They just never knew there was a term for it. The following year I was asked to speak again at the OFDA Convention. This time, my entire presentation was on Compassion Fatigue.

Jason Troyer, PhD CT contacted me back in July of 2017 right after that presentation. As a psychology professor/psychologist who specializes in grief, he understood the weight of the funeral profession verses the lack of resources available to funeral professionals. He wanted to create a resource for those of us who needed it.

His vision evolved into Finding Resilience: A burnout prevention program for funeral professionals. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced it firsthand (or maybe it’s because I contributed a small amount) but as I went through the journal and information I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement with everything that was presented. From the unrealistic expectations that funeral directors put on themselves to the long hours and depressing environment, it’s a shock that compassion fatigue isn’t something that is discussed more throughout our profession.

I have often contemplated if this profession is truly what I want for my life. Because being a funeral director isn’t something you can turn on and off. You can’t be half of a funeral director only half the time. You’re either all in or all out. The thing is, when you’re all in you can quickly find yourself drowning. That’s why it’s so important to talk about it. You need resources, colleagues and support. You need to be able to find some sort of balance. You need to put your own health first.

There were many nights when I would lock the doors at the funeral home and walk over to my car, alone, in the dark. The minute I would start my engine, I’d suddenly find myself crying. And it wasn’t cute crying. It was ugly crocodile tears, choking back air, full body shake crying. I would wonder what was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I handle this job? Why was a profession that I’ve wanted to be in since before I was a teenage too much for me to handle? Why was it, that every time the phone rang at work, I would silently pray that it wasn’t a death call, because I knew that I did not have the energy to meet with another family. Why wasn’t my passion for helping others stronger than death’s grip on my life? Looking back, I can see that it’s because I had no balance. I was young and I wanted to succeed. I didn’t realize that by always saying yes to my job I was saying no to my own physical and mental health. When your entire life is death you’ll find that there is no room to actually live.

Finding Resilience is a resource that I wish I had five years ago. It’s information that makes so much sense that can help during a time when the fog is so thick you can’t think clearly on your own. I’m proud to be apart of it, and I encourage anyone in the funeral profession to explore it before you actually need it. You don’t have to drown, you just have to know when to ask for help.

Finding Resilience is a burnout prevention program in partnership with Homesteaders and Dr. Jason Troyer to create resources to help you cope with difficult situations and find the joy in the important work you do to serve your community. You can sign up for a free journal or weekly emails here.


The funeral that is happening right now.

I’m sitting in the lounge of the funeral home, my back against the wall as I listen in on a memorial service which is currently in progress.


It is difficult for me to pick up on every word being said, but I hear some voices breaking into sobs and at other times laughter erupting.


This person, who has brought so many people together, reminds me once again why funerals are important. People are gathered together to mourn the fact that someone they love is gone. But throughout their sorrow they are also laughing about the good times that they shared. Remembering the little moments that made monumental memories.


These people, who may have nothing in common besides for the fact that the deceased made an impact on their lives, are all gathered to support one another during a very difficult time. They are here, right now, to show support for the family and to remind us all of the most important thing in life.


The time I was yelled at on the phone.

A few weeks back a funeral associate of mine was talking to a gentleman at a visitation about prearrangements. I was not available at the time to sit down and speak with him, so  he was given a GPL and a promise that I would call and answer any questions he had in detail the next day.

So I called him. Except, he didn’t answer the phone. His wife did.

A lot of times, when I call people about prearrangements, I don’t like to initially say where I’m calling from. I’ve been in situations where family members ask me not to disclose that I’m from a funeral home, for one reason or another. Even though I was not told to withhold that information here, when this woman answered the phone instead of identifying myself right away, I just asked if the gentleman was home.

That’s when the woman identified herself as the wife and asked who was calling.

“My name is Lauren and I’m calling from the funeral ho-” was about as much as I was able to get off my lips before the wife let out a huge sigh and exclaimed, “Give me a break!”

She then proceeded to yell at me over the phone, about how her and her husband have no time to talk about preplanning because they’re so busy and how she repeatedly told her husband not to talk to a funeral director and how dare I call their home phone number.

I couldn’t even muster one word in to assure her that it was alright and they didn’t have to meet with me before I heard a ‘click’ and the line go dead.

The point that I’m trying to make with this story isn’t about proper phone etiquette, but instead that the only reason I called in the first place is because someone had questions.

I won’t tell people I’m a funeral director when I’m not working unless someone asks. One reason I don’t go around sharing my choice of careers is because when one says that they work in the death care industry people always have questions. Which is great; I honestly love talking about death. But sometimes I need a break. Sometimes, I just want to enjoy a moment for what it is rather than spend that time talking about work.

Therefore, I want to also say that I don’t spend my spare time calling people asking them if they have plans for their corpse once they die. If you ask me your options, I will have a conversation, but I won’t bring up the subject on my own.

I do not know the circumstances behind the reasons why the wife treated me as she did. Maybe something had just happened before she picked up the phone that put her in a bad mood. Maybe a family member was sick and she couldn’t face talking with a funeral director at that exact moment. But it’s not my job to force people to confront their mortality.

I cannot make everyone comfortable with the inevitable. I do not try to force my own beliefs on others when it comes to how they care for their dead. The only thing that I ever hope for, is that people at least have a conversation with those they love.

I am a resource. It is my job to serve those who seek my help, but not to force myself on those when my knowledge is not welcomed. I wish that I could have explained myself and apologized to the wife before she hung up the telephone. But, just maybe, our brief encounter allowed for her and her husband to have a more meaningful conversation on their own time.