Sunday, June 10, 2007

Not joking

Every once in a while, I feel "called" to do something different with my life. Lately I've been feeling a tug. Not a big, thunderclap-dramatic tug, but a little one. And it's becoming more and more insistent.

Some historic perspective: in high school, I felt called to the ministry. Really, I did, to the point that I was looking at seminaries. Until the second half of my senior year, I wanted to be a missionary. Years later, I heard that call a few other times. But these days, I'm pretty certain that I wouldn't be a good minister. Well, maybe I would. That doesn't matter; I don't want that job. I love being active in my church, and I've had the experience of going from church member to church employee, and it was not easy and it didn't end well. So no more of that.

This weekend I heard a call again. And this one, like the call to the ministry, has been brewing for a few years.

As I mentioned last week, my husband's aunt died last week; Friday was her funeral. And you know those funerals? The ones where the minister obviously didn't know the deceased and it feels very much like his words are from a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet? And maybe he got a couple of the names mixed up in the blanks? And it doesn't feel right, or that the person's individuality was even remotely honored by the words? Unfortunately, this was one of those funerals. The only part that "felt" right was when her sons and her husband spoke. They remained composed and spoke from the heart, sharing a few stories, a few memories, and a true glimpse of this person we had gathered to remember.

After the service, my brother-in-law and I were chasing children through the cemetary while the rest of the family gathered for the graveside portion of the service. (He is married to my husband's sister, so he and I were the natural choices to chase kids.) We were talking about how services like this felt so cold and impersonal and dreary, and that it's a shame that there aren't better options out there. We even talked about what those options could be, what they'd look like, feel like.

This is where that calling got loud. Because seriously, this has been simmering for years. I've thought for quite a while that it would be a really interesting job, running a funeral home. Yes, really. Not so much the mortuary part, but the dealing with grieving families, planning memorial services, all that part. And maybe there's a new market opening up, of unchurched people who don't want the canned music and fill-in-the-blanks services. Hipster funerals. That could be my great contribution to the world.

So how do I proceed? I'm going to do some research. How much of an investment is a funeral home? What kind of hours, what kind of commitment, what kind of lifestyle would I be embracing were I to answer this call? Is this something I really want to do? Or did I just like the show Six Feet Under a little too much? Is there a market for the services I'm wanting to offer? Or do the Fords have the funeral industry in Memphis so locked up that I'd go broke in a year?

Stay tuned.


kalisah said...

O.M.G. I was just thinking about this THIS VERY MORNING. B/c my husband & I, we're spiritual, but not religious. And I got to wondering who would preside over a service for one of us. Someone who knew us - but they'd be grieving and probably not capable. We'd need someone like an emcee, who could help the grieving widow (or whoever) write the script, which would include speakers who knew and loved the deceased.

I know, is it so bizarre that we think about these things? Or maybe just a sign of our age?

jeanie said...

Maybe you wouldn't have to go the whole hog and do the full funeral home - maybe you could be a funeral celebrant or even the funeral planner?

Noodle said...

I like the idea. And no, I don't think that the Fords have it locked up. But I don't think you would have to have your own funeral home. You could do your work in conjunction with any, particularly if you acted as "funeral planner."

I'd put the word out at your church, maybe a little ad in the Lamplighter or Flyer. Who knows where it would lead?

Lizarita said...

Seriously. I'd SO buy into that.

Shoot me an email so we can talk more about this train stuff.