little miss funeral

an average girl working at your not so average job

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!

What Little Miss Funeral Wears (when she wants to be a ballerina.)

I can already hear all of the traditional funeral directors disapproving this particular look. I mean, one of my own funeral associates even looked at me and said “What are you wearing?” But you know what? I loved this outfit. I felt confident in this outfit. What more can a girl ask for when she gets dressed?

For those of you who may not know, for the past year I have been taking ballet classes. I’ve never done ballet before, although I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. I love the grace, softness and femininity that comes along with ballet. And yet, there is something strong and disciplined about ballerinas. It’s the perfect mixture. So the moment I saw this skirt from Pink Peonies blogger Rachel Parcell, I knew I needed to have it, even at the high price point. I normally don’t mind investing money into pieces that I can get a lot of wear out of, but this one was hard for me to justify. I actually couldn’t justify it besides for the fact that it looked like a tutu and was pretty, so I held my breath and closed my eyes as I hit “purchase” on her website. Hashtag no regrets.

Now, I wore this outfit Friday and had no funerals or visitations scheduled. If I had, I would have chosen to wear something a little more Wednesday Addams rather than Rachel McAdams, but since I was just doing paperwork and running around I decided to branch out of my comfort zone.

Funeral directors don’t have to be doom and gloom all the time. And honestly, this was the first time in a very long time that I did not wear black, so it deserved to be photographed.

Also yes, my hair is blonde.

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Skirt – Rachel Parcell (can be found here)

Top – Antropologie (similar style here)

Shoes – Clarks (can be found here)

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

I’ve broken my rule.

I’m about to contradict myself.

I have gone on and on about how it’s so important to take care of yourself before you can take care of others; putting your own needs first. Being selfish.

And these last few busy weeks, I have not done that at all. I couldn’t do it. The funeral home was so busy and I was just one person who only had so many hours in the day. I was up before the sun rose and I went to bed way after my bedtime. I had to. There was no other way I was going to get everything done.

But something funny happened these past few weeks; I was energized.

Now I’m going to explain this the best way I can. When I say I was ‘energized’ I’m not saying I wasn’t tired. Because I was exhausted. It’s just that, I was getting so much out of helping these families in their time of need, that I forgot about all that other crap that comes along with this job. These families were wonderful people who appreciated everything that I was doing, and I was doing my job well. For as busy as I was, everything was working out perfectly.

I was exhausted, but I was making a difference.

I was doing the very thing that made me fall in love with funeral service in the first place. That feeling of helping people who can’t help themselves. I was drinking it all in.

Now what are we at? Day sixteen or day seventeen? Regardless, Everyone needs a break at some point. Everyone needs a chance to breathe. To be selfish. I was selfless for a time, breaking my own rules. But you know what they say? Everything in moderation.

Now it’s time for a glass of wine, a bubble bath and a good book. I think I’ve earned it.

Lauren, read this when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

I work for a mom and pop funeral home. Meaning, we do not have a very large staff. There are two funeral directors (the owner and myself) and we have a trade embalmer. I have a handful of part timers and one full time associate. We do close to two hundred calls a year.

For the past two weeks, the owner has been away on vacation (his first in about a year and a half, so it was deserved). For one of those two weeks, my funeral associate and husband were both out of town. So not only was my work life turned upside down, but I had no support in my home life. And these past two weeks, everyone in our town decided to die.

Well, not everyone, but the funeral home has been busy. Very busy. And I was left in charge, since I have the license. At first, I was feeling very overwhelmed and very nervous. I had never been left alone for such an extended period of time before. And after getting three death calls the first day in, I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

 

But then something funny happened.

I did it.

 

Somehow, after that very first, busy day, some sort of calm had come over me. I have no idea how it happened, but I didn’t stress out. And the next day, when we got another call, I didn’t stress either (or the next day….or the next day). I mean, sure, I have been working very long days, (and getting very little sleep..) but I was organized and I got everything done. These past two weeks, I think I really found my confidence. I love being a funeral director and I love what I do, but I always have people to fall back on. I have a great team. This time, I had to make the decisions and I had to really be the boss. And everything ran so smooth.

Everything ran better than I could have possibly imagined, actually. So I’m writing this post for me. I’m writing this to remind myself that I can do this job and I can do it well. So Lauren, the next time you are feeling like you’re drowning, remember how you handled these weeks. You can do this, because you’ve been doing it.

You are stronger than you think.

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.