In this article by Liz Arch, she describes growing up in a family with a long history in the funeral home business and her life lessons about dying that she learned from that and from becoming a yoga instructor.
I can appreciate her story. We grew up in a three family house and our landlady and landlord lived upstairs. They were “grandma and grandpa” to us, even though we weren’t related. One of the kids lived over a funeral home about 30 minutes from us and we spent time visiting them.
After grandma died and we needed to find a new home, we actually lived in a two-story apartment over another “branch” of the funeral home.
My grandfather had done some part time work as a valet for a funeral home. I remember dark rainy nights and grandpa parking cars.
I actually just told a story to a friend from work about driving to LaGuardia Airport in NY, as a kid, with my dad… to pick up a body that had been flown in from out of state because the funeral directors were busy. I had to be in 6-7 grade and there was no mystery, no scary monsters to it… just dad and I driving in a hearse, going down I90 to the airport.
There is a comfort in having been around dying at times when it was “no big deal”. It really normalized it as part of life, not something to fear or run from . . . though I will always hate gladiolias because to me, they will always smell of formedahyde.
But the point is, I learned to ride a bike in the parking lot of a funeral home. I volunteered at the Jewish Home for the Elderly when I was in 8th & 9th grade. I went to funerals. No one ever asked, “what do we do with the kids… what do we tell the kids…”
I feel blessed to have had this history. Although losing the people I have loved as been incredibly painful I don’t fear having “those” conversations. I feel like I can be present when someone else is struggling with them. That is a true honor, to be present and to bear witness to their journey without fear.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Liz. I can relate to it in so many ways.
- Who’s Your Guru? (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- Should yoga be emotional or detached? (theconfluencecountdown.com)
- Common Reactions to Grief: Spiritual (namasteconsultinginc.com)
- The Most Common Yoga Injury – and What to Do About It. (elephantjournal.com)
- A Lot Like You (elephantjournal.com)