When I first started my job as the Foxfield steward, I was nervous. I was going to be working with people during times of incredible grief, and helping them to make plans for their own death. Being completely new to this business, I was anxious to strike a respectful and solemn tone.
The first plot I sold at Foxfield was to an incredibly sweet and soft-spoken, elderly woman. She was not able to drive, so we made all our arrangements over the phone. Her husband had already passed away and he had been cremated. She kept his ashes in an urn next to her chair in the living room, to keep her company as she watched television. She purchased second rights to her plot at Foxfield, so that he could be buried with her when the time came.
As this was my first transaction, I was trying so hard to be professional. I chose all my words so carefully, fearful that I might inadvertently offend the sweet woman as we completed her paperwork. As we went over burial instructions, I had a difficult time as I tried to carefully explain that I would place their cremated remains side-by-side when they were interred. Finally understanding, she corrected me thus: “Oh sweetheart, no. Just throw him in on top of me. That’s how we spent most of our time anyway!” I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks!
While tears have come to my eyes on countless occasions since, as I have witnessed many heart-wrenching moments, I always remember that my first tears shed at Foxfield were tears of laughter. In many ways, this interaction has shaped my own end-of-life philosophy and my daily approach to my work. There is no point trying to dance around the issue. You might as well approach it directly as best you can – preferably with a smile and a laugh.