My Calling

I was not planning on delving into this so fast but the perfect opening came yesterday.

I went to an art opening of a lady I knew from many years ago.  She and her husband had been next door neighbors of my in-laws over twenty years ago here in Cambridge.  They moved away, he died at the age of 50 and Liz chose to move back to Cambridge about a year ago.

When I walked into the gallery, Liz was glad to see me and introduced me to a friend of hers saying,  “Elizabeth is the funeral director in town. “  The friend’s reply was, “Oh, well, it’s a job that someone has to do.”  Yes it is and it’s a job I love doing very much.  I know it is more than a job, it is my calling, the sacred calling of caring for the dead and those that they left behind. I have had the privilege of doing this for over twenty years.

In those twenty years I have seen society’s attitudes towards the dead change drastically.  When someone died it was important to a family to take the time from their everyday lives to honor their loved one with ritual; to have the body of their loved one cared for and with them for the time it took to say goodbye; to gather together with family and community sharing the grief of loss and being comforted by the love and support given.  I have witnessed many times, the comfort that this gives.  I have personally experienced it when my parents died.

I will not tell you that you need fancy, expensive caskets to honor your loved one but I am here to tell you that as a society we need more that to quickly dispose of a body and then have a celebration at a convenient time.  I do what I am asked to do, but I hope that I can continue to do what I was called to do.

Jon Katz calls me “the undertaker” and maybe that is how I will start seeing myself as she who is “undertaking” many things.  I look forward to sharing some stories from my years in funeral service and sharing whatever the future brings.

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3 Responses to My Calling

  1. Rebecca Machlovitz says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I am a follower of Jon and Maria’s blogs, and I am so excited to read your blog! And congratulations on starting your own! I am in the midst of making a big life change, that affects my physical health, and it is scary. I read a few favorite blogs everyday, and I have to say that that they do bring comfort and inspiration to me. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I appreciate you starting your blog, because Jon has talked about on his blog what wonderful stories and ideas you have to write about! Can’t wait to read more!
    Rebecca M.

  2. Melissa Middleswart says:

    I just typed a comment then the computer “ate” it–so annoying–technology can be such a pain at times! Short version–good for you, I hope you’ll enjoy writing and I’ll keep reading, thanks to the rec from Jon Katz.
    I did just wonder if possibly you might have intended to type “sacred” calling, rather than “scared” above? A small slip of the typing fingers–I’ve had to make a number of corrections to my own typing just in this short comment, myself! 🙂
    All best wishes.

  3. Marneymae says:

    this is such a noble doing, your calling, as the Undertaker.
    my housemate was going to go to school to become a “funeral director” – but, really, i came to see it’s so much more then that.
    wishing you all the best in your efforts and doings in this regard.
    it is an area of life which seems to have so much room for bringing the sacred into it, and also expanding what seems to be such a narrow path of choices one can take.
    thank you for all that you are and all that you do

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