Is it my job to worry? I have a business to run with bills to pay. I need to be paid for my services and merchandise. I now have an official “Payment Policy”. Yet when someone walks in and says that they have no money what am I to do? The financial part of this job is the hardest! I can deal with the pain and sorrow. I can deal with the inconvenience of dropping whatever I am doing, forgetting about my plans and going to help someone who needs me. I can deal with families that are feuding. I can deal with most anything. What I hate to deal with most is asking people for the money that I need to keep my business running.
Funeral directors, aka undertakers, have often been portrayed as ogres who take advantage of people when they are in their saddest situations. Jessica Mitford said that we try to sell the grieving family expensive merchandise they don’t really need and make them feel guilty that they aren’t buying “the best” for their loved one. Perhaps this is true in large corporate owned funeral establishments but it is poppycock when it comes to us small independent businesses! We are part of our communities. We see the folks that we serve in the grocery store and the bank. We serve their family multiple times. We are not here to take advantage of them.
I have been blessed in many, many ways. I have good health. I have a partner that I have been married to and in business with for many years and I inherited some money from my family. That money gives me financial security that I would definitely not have if I only had the income from our funeral business. I am grateful for everything I have. I try to be, and think I am, a generous person.
Yet when someone needs my services and has no money, am I supposed to “give away the store”? And on top of that I worry about them! We have a situation this week that breaks my heart. Not only am I concerned about getting paid, I am worried about what is going to happen to the young woman (18 years old) whose father died. Where will she and her animals-several cats and a dog- live now that there is no one to pay the rent? How will she survive the trauma of finding her father dead? Sure, she is not my problem but she is, because I care. I remember being 17 years old and having run away to New York City and somehow surviving. If I had not had people who cared for me I wouldn’t be here today.
I am grateful that I am here today and that I have the ability to worry. It made not be part of my job but it is part of my nature and even though it might cost me some sleep, I think it is a good thing.