little miss funeral

an average girl working at your not so average job

Tag: funeral

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

Well, this post won’t be going live until after this little baby is born. But right now, I am currently six months pregnant and feeling every little bit of it. I know that I’ve kept my entire pregnancy offline, and by the time baby is here, you’ll all know why.

Since this is the first I’m looking at these photos, the first thought that pops into my mind is that I’ve done a very morbid maternity shoot. But alas, although these photos are documenting me growing a tiny human, the main point is to share with all you female funeral directors out there how I’m dressing for work while also expanding at the waist.

As you all know, I basically only wear dresses. This has come in very handy during this pregnancy because I haven’t had to go through the shock of not being able to button up my favorite pants (spoiler, I don’t have a pair of favorite pants…I hardly have pants at all.) Because of my love of dresses, I’ve been able to get away with not buying any maternity clothes as of yet. Instead, I’ve just been wearing very loose dresses. To try to make myself look like I have even a tiny bit of a shape, I’ve been wearing belts. I’m past the point of hiding this baby, so might as well show off the bump.

Also, six months pregnant and still wearing heels. I know that this is crazy but honestly, I don’t want to be logical. I can still get around on them and they make me feel more like myself. I feel very out of control when it comes to many things in my life nowadays, so wearing heels still makes me feel like me. Maybe next month I’ll invest in a pair of flats. Or maybe I’ll wear heels when I give birth. I’ll keep you posted.

DSC_0326

DSC_0337

DSC_0341

Dress – BCBGeneration (can be found here)

Belt – Loft (similar style here)

Tights – Rite Aid (similar style here)

Shoes – Kelly & Katie (can be found here)

 

My husband Josiah LeRoy took these photos of me in St. Stanislaus Cemetery in Cheektowaga, NY.

National Grief Awareness Day + Goodgrief App

When Eddie died, I didn’t know how to feel.

I don’t mean that in the literal sense, because I hope it’s quite obvious that I was grieving very hard, but I didn’t know where I stood relationship wise. I loved Eddie. I often describe him as my second grandfather, a protector, but we were close because we worked together. So even though he meant so much to me, when I described who he was to an outsider, they could not understand how I felt exactly because they saw our relationship as it was; co-workers.

In my grief, I needed others to understand. I needed to talk about it, and write about it, and explain how I felt so I didn’t hold it all inside. So I did those things. And even though I was met with support from others, no one really got it. In one way, I am sort of happy that others didn’t understand, because that meant that they never went through a loss like that. But one the other hand, it would have been nice to be able to really communicate with someone who had been through something similar.

Every one has a different way to cope and deal with grief. There’s no one way to grieve a loss and the road is hard and can be long. Companionship during this journey can help when you just feel overcome with emotions and feel like the days will never get better. Sometimes, it’s enough to have someone check in and see how you’re doing. Sometimes, you need someone to just be there with you, sharing in the silence. And other times, what we need is someone in a similar situation so we can explain what we’re going through and have the other person get it.

Today, August 30, 2018 is National Grief Awareness Day. I am so proud to be able to partner with the Goodgrief App and share this wonderful resource with others.

The Goodgrief App was co-founded by two women named Kim and Robynne. It’s a social network for people dealing with loss. It puts you in touch with others who have lost their partners, parents, child, relative, or friend. It allows you to connect with others who are in the same boat as you and who get what you’re going through.

I know there were so many times when I actually felt bad for talking about Eddie. It’s so silly to actually type those words, but I would sometimes feel like I was bothering those in my immediate circle because I just wanted to talk about him and get my grief out. If I would have known about this app, it would have helped me so much during the beginning of my grief journey.

There is no time frame for how long a person should grieve. This app, allows you to find others who can be a support system for you, no matter how long you may need them. The important thing to remember is that you are not alone, you are never alone, and there are wonderful individuals out there like Kim and Robynne who are working hard every day to make certain that we all have resources so we understand those truths.

For National Grief Awareness Day, I ask you all to look into the Goodgrief App and see what it can offer to you on your grief journey. I also ask you to pick up your phone, and send a little text or call someone you know who may be struggling. Let them know they’re not alone. Maybe just sit with them in their silence. Because one thing in this life is true, at one point or another we will all lose someone we love. It really does take a village and there is no need to be ashamed of that.

 

My Father’s Wake Review

Have you all heard about My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love, and Die by Kevin Toolis? I was extremely lucky to have been sent a copy of it a few months back and quickly read the entire book. Back in 2011, I was able to visit a friend of mine who was studying in Ireland, so this book appealed to me even more because of that!

My Father’s Wake revolves around Sonny, Kevin’s father. It starts off with him actively dying and eventually follows his entire funeral. Throughout the book, Kevin also shares different parts of his life in which the reader is able to get a deeper understanding with his relationship with death. Stories shared regarding his brother and job as a reporter allow the reader to dive more deeply into an intimate part of Kevin’s life. One thing is for certain throughout this book, death is apart of life, and should not be feared. Instead, we should allow ourselves to be part of the process of dying and the act of caring for our deceased.

Sonny’s story was so beautifully told. Kevin’s writing really forces the reader to think about how we deal with death here in the West. Growing up in the United States, my experiences with death on a personal level has been vastly different from Kevin’s. In a society where we pay professionals like myself to care for the dead, Kevin reminds us that these dead bodies are those of our own loved ones. They are not to be feared and our relationship with them in death can be beautiful and therapeutic. By bringing a death back into our home, we are better able to acknowledge it and honor the life of our loved ones.

Below I have my video review of My Father’s Wake: How the Irish Teach Us to Live, Love, and Die. After you watch it make certain to order your copy here. Honestly, do it, because this book is worth it.

How To Become A Funeral Director

I get a ton of questions asking the steps that need to be taken to become a funeral director. This is such a difficult question because every single state is different! What this means is that since I am licensed in New York, I am only a funeral director in New York. If I were to travel to New Jersey, or Ohio, I am no longer a funeral director unless I take the steps necessary in that state.

For a list of the requirements for your state you can always check out the National Funeral Director Association Licensing Boards and Requirements. For New York, I had to complete the following steps.

1. Graduate with an Associate Degree in Funeral Service

2. Pass the National Board Exam (both sections, Arts and Science)

3. Complete a one year residency with a licensed funeral firm

4. Pass a NYS Funeral Law Exam

For more information, you can watch my video below.

When You’re Sick + Have To Work

I don’t really get sick days at work. I’m not saying that if I have a terrible cold I can’t take a day off. It’s just that when you work in a funeral home you work on a different kind of schedule.

I always joke and say that I live in a perpetual state of sickness during the winter months. Somehow, I always find myself with a cough, or sore throat, or stuffy nose. Often times, these little illnesses are not terrible enough for me to call off of work. Sometimes, even if I want to take a day to rest up, I just have too much to do! Watch my video below and see some different things that I do to make myself feel better when I’m feeling under the weather.

For JR.

Yesterday, while scrolling through my Facebook page, I was notified that a person I used to work with had passed away.

It’s been a good four years since I had seen them, but the update of their death put me into shock. For a few years, they knew every aspect of my life. And then, one day, I got a new job and we lost touch.  People’s paths take them in different directions and on different journeys.

___________________________________________________

 

I’m that person who tells others that we’ll stay in touch and that we’ll get together.

I’m that person who never picks up the phone to make plans because of the uncertainty with my job.

When you work in a funeral home, you understand the importance of putting your family and friends first.

When you work in a funeral home, you become very good at cancelling plans last minute and putting off scheduling again because there’s a chance you’ll have to work.

 

___________________________________________________

Since I found out the news, I’ve been thinking of the difference that this person had made in my life. I was young when I had met them. I was often uncertain of myself and my choices; just growing into the woman I’d become. We would sit and talk about my life, my job, and my relationships. When I took my National Board Exams to become a funeral director, this person gave me an angel pin to wear for good luck. I passed those exams, the first time around. When I became engaged, we talked about the plans for the wedding. They spent that day celebrating with me. When I left my job, we talked about my depression and mental issues. They never once judge me for the decisions that I made. Instead, they would listen with an open heart and offer me gentle advice.

Death forces you to stop and take a look at yourself. I may have only worked with this person for a few years out of my entire life, but I am who I am today because I had known them. The conversations we shared helped to shape me into who I am today.

I am a better person, for having had the opportunities to know them.

The would will be a little darker without their light in it.

Cremation Questions Answered!

A few months ago I sat down with my friend Matt Roberts from the Mount Calvary Cemetery Group to answer different questions regarding the cremation process.

This was something we had wanted to do for a while, so it was fun for us to actually sit down and connect. We want to do another video together, so make certain that you watch the one below and leave your questions in the comment section!

Is Cremation A Problem?

The funeral industry is changing. There is no denying that.

If you’re a funeral home owner, I can guarantee that you’ve thought about the rise in cremation and how it’s impacting your business. Gone are the days of the three day wake, church service, and burial. While there is still plenty of room for tradition, families are walking away from funerals as their parents and grandparents have known them and redefining them to accommodate their lifestyle.

No matter my personal beliefs, it’s my job as a funeral professional to make certain the families I serve have all the information they need to make educated decisions. And even though I am a huge advocate for viewing and spending time with our dead, I personally do not see anything wrong with cremation as a final means of disposition. As a funeral professional, it’s my job to educate the families I serve and figure out how to give them the services they find value in while still educating about the importance of a funeral. It may be a different picture from what we are used to seeing, but there are still reasons certain traditions exist. (I’ll definitely revisit this and go more in detail as to my opinions, don’t worry!)

But I don’t want to stray too far away from the topic of this YouTube video. Watch it below and you be the judge for yourself if cremation is a problem.

A new year, but the same me.

It’s a new year.

How crazy to think that we’ve taken another lap around the sun. How crazy to think of all of the bodies I’ve placed into the earth, these past three hundred and sixty five days. People often use a new year as the first chapter of their book, but I think that I’m done making resolutions for a while. It’s a new year, but I know I’m the same me.

I know that it’s been a while since I last wrote. It’s always a while from one post to the next. When I first started Little Miss Funeral, I wanted to be able to communicate with my family members and friends about my job working in a funeral home. I never thought that people from all over the world would read what I write. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, especially on the internet, you open yourself up to the possibility of a lot of negativity. When you work around death and grief, negativity is the last thing that you need.

Two thousand and seventeen was a good year for me, in many ways. I traveled a lot with my family. I started a YouTube channel. I surrounded myself with people who I love. Two thousand and seventeen was also difficult. It started off with me burying a close family friend. It went on to include burying my cousin’s step-father. It was my first full year without Eddie. If I let these sad times consume me, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. But even when there is sadness, I’ve learned that goodness also grows. You just have to be open to recognize it.

I’m not going to sit here and promise different things for this new year. I’m not going to pretend that I’m going to write more, or vlog more, or anything like that. God knows that I won’t set foot in a gym. What I do promise to do, is always be honest with what I put out on Little Miss Funeral. I’m still a twenty-something-year-old woman on the other side of this screen, after all. I promise to do my best to share my journey with all of you. And you know what? I do believe that this new year is going to be an amazing journey.

Almost a year later.

When I was in mortuary school, I had a professor who shared her story of how she embalmed her father when he died. At first, I was taken aback, but by the end of the story, I saw what a beautiful gift the experience had been for her. For she had said how no one else could have taken better care of her father than her. I always thought how wonderful it was that I was going into the death care industry. I would be the person who would be able to care for my own family and friends one day. I could make certain that everything was done correctly and that they received the love and respect in death that they deserved.

That is, until, Eddie died.

In just a little over a month, it will have been a year since he’s died. At times, it feels as if he’s been absent from my life for years, but in the same breath it is still so fresh. I still have a voicemail on my phone from him, 11 seconds long. It’s nothing special, him asking for me to call him. But when I push the play button, I can still hear him say my name.

When Eddie died, I did a lot for him. But there was still so much that I couldn’t do. At the hospital, once Keith unzipped the body bag, I couldn’t bring myself to look upon Eddie’s face. I couldn’t be there when he was embalmed. I couldn’t even bring myself to be present while he was dressed for the visitation. It all hurt too much.

There is a growing movement for getting family and friends involved in their loved one’s funeral. There are even people who are providing opportunities for home wakes; for you to wash and dress your own loved ones when they die. As a funeral director, I can see the positives to this. Acknowledging death helps with our grief. But as a girl who has lost someone who I love, I can understand why we have professionals.

I do not regret not being present for Eddie’s embalming. Although it was therapeutic for my professor, I know that this was not something I was capable of doing for Ed. But I was able to comb his hair back and tell him I loved him on my own terms. There are so many ways that we can care for our dead, the important part is to just be with them. There are times when I think of the deaths that I will have to bear in the years to come. My grandma, my parents, and who knows who else. I often wonder if things will be different for me, if I’ll be strong enough to care for my loved ones completely on my own. But then, I think how strength has nothing to do with it. The only strength that matters, is the strength of my love for them. And if my heart is so broken that I cannot care for them myself, my new strength will come from leaning on other professionals, who are my close friends, to carry me in a time when I can’t carry myself.

Almost a year later and not much has changed. Except, everything has changed, because you’re not here Eddie. I miss you.