I was riding in the passenger seat of a hearse when the funeral director asked me, “What do you like best about your job?” We had just left a cemetery where I led a prayer for a person who had no relatives or friends. My answer was quick in coming: “The split second when family enters the funeral home, and our eyes meet. They seem so relieved to know someone is there for them.” I could have added, “My other favorite time occurs when the family leaves after visitation hours, and I hear, ‘You stayed the whole time for us.’”
When I memorized the works of mercy as a kid, I wondered if I’d ever have burying the dead as part of my ticket into heaven. Well, I don’t know whether it’s a ticket into heaven, but it is my privilege here on earth. Families face so many details when a loved one dies. Remembering details during a time of sorrow is nearly impossible. As staff support I may be able to answer some questions or perhaps foresee a need. As I stand at the entrance of the funeral home to greet, I pray short prayers for the deceased. “May they rest in peace.” And may the loved ones find bits of peace and solace through the ministry of funeral home personnel.