Emotionally Perfect

Posted on August 24, 2022 by Lisa Thomas under Uncategorized
1 Comment

I have no idea what happened, but I started Saturday night thinking it was Sunday.  I had spent the entire Saturday day doing my normal Saturday stuff, but at some point that evening I sprang forward 24 hours and landed in a completely new day.  So I did one of the things I usually do on Sunday nights . . . I posted a meme to the funeral home’s Facebook page.  It was a post meant to reflect how Mondays (or any day really) can go in the world of work and, thanks to the magic of Facebook scheduling, it would magically appear at precisely 8:30 PM to be seen that Sunday night and all the next day.  Then I went about my business until about 9:30 when I was suddenly smacked in the head by the obvious.  It wasn’t Sunday night.

So I went to our Facebook page and, sure ‘nuff, there was Monday’s intended post.  Since very few people had seen it I decided to delete it and schedule it correctly.  But right before I hit the button that can erase the world, I noticed a comment . . . from a commenter who was none too pleased with the meme I had chosen . . . because our business is what it is and, in their considered opinion, this was inappropriate and distasteful for a funeral home.  And it looked like this:

As I pondered that comment I came to realize there are several professions in this world where the public expects you to always be in control.  Anger is not allowed.  Despair is forbidden.  Frustration shouldn’t even consider showing its face.  Ministers come to mind.  And doctors and nurses.  Definitely emergency personnel in all forms and fashions.  And funeral directors.  But the truth of the matter is, none of that is true.

We’re all human.  All those people who are so often held to a higher standard where emotional expression in the line of duty is concerned, are human.  I can’t speak for the ministers or the medical professionals or emergency personnel—or any others who might be cursed by such expectations—but I can tell you there are days when funeral directors feel exactly like that second picture.  When the night has been short and the day will be long, the frustration comes more easily.  When Death has tragically claimed one who should have had decades more to live, the despair and depression can be overwhelming.  And honestly, when a family cannot, for whatever reason, put aside their differences and come together long enough to honor someone worthy of their love and respect, there is anger . . . and a great deal of head-shaking.

Do we like our jobs?  That depends on which part we’re discussing.  Do we enjoy seeing families whose hearts are broken, whose souls are crushed by the weight of loss and the grief it brings?  Do we enjoy having their anger and their pain directed toward us because the one person truly responsible for all of it is the one person at whom they cannot yell?  No.  No to all of it.

But do we feel a sense of purpose and find satisfaction in being able to help those who call on us?  Are we grateful for the privilege of being able to serve and for any kind words we may receive for our efforts?  Oh yes.  A thousand times, yes.

So when the monster begins to rear its ugly head, we take a deep breath and we push it back to the depths from which it came and we walk with those who are traveling through the darkness of grief.  And hopefully they never see the negative emotions we’re struggling to contain.

That meme wasn’t deleted because someone didn’t necessarily approve.  I deleted it because it posted on the wrong day.  And I didn’t choose not to reschedule it because it was met with disfavor.  I realized it could serve a greater purpose by reminding all of us there are simply days that tear at us and wear us down and drive us to the brink of literal madness.  And on those days I hope we can all have a little compassion and a little understanding when someone’s humanity slips out from behind their otherwise emotionally perfect mask.

 

About the author:  Lisa Shackelford Thomas is a fourth generation member of a family that’s been in funeral service since 1926.  She has been employed at Shackelford Funeral Directors in Savannah, Tennessee for over 40 years and currently serves as the manager there.  Any opinions expressed here are hers and hers alone, and may or may not reflect the opinions of other Shackelford family members or staff.

One thought on “Emotionally Perfect

  1. Virginia Haynes says:

    I liked it. I spent the morning today thinking it was Monday, so you’re fine, sister. Keep up the good work., We’ve all been there!

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