Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I'm back, and I survived Christmas. If you're reading this, obviously you did too. Well done y'all.
I have too many sad stories from the funeral home over the break. Taking someone away during a time when every other household in the street is celebrating for Christmas, it really brings home the fact that death doesn't wait for anyone. No siree.
Also, I'm pretty sure Santa died because there is a man in my fridge with a big tummy (although bloated with gas and fluids), a big white beard and white bushy eyebrows. Quite obviously Santa pushed it a little too hard this year.
I'm preparing for New Years now but I have no idea how I'm going to ring the new year in. I really want to spend it with my favorite people but at the moment the world seems a little sideways. New energies, show yourselves already!
2011 is going to be the year of until it kills me. Belie' you me.
Party safe yo. x
Monday, December 20, 2010
Generally speaking, when male mourners make funeral arrangements their decisions are based on the availability of funds and the ease and effectiveness of procedures. It's not surprising really, but women focus their decision making on emotional connections and sentimentality.
Women often say things like "We'll select a flower arrangement to match the coffin, to match the dress that Nan/Mum/Hildeberg is wearing...of which was her favourite colour in 1985 and was the colour of the bridesmaids dressing at the wedding....." and so on and so on. I think it's nice that the ladies seem to ride the funeral personalisation band wagon. It makes things all the more interesting, but is it interesting for me just because I'm a woman (and a funeral director at that)?
Death is a non selective process, as in death gets us all at some stage, so we have a pretty good sample for a study on buyers choice patterns. Our 'customers' come from all religions, nationalities, classes and orientations, yet it really does seem as though when it comes to planning funerals the boys rush in and out and the girls stay and play for hours.
Is this the groundbreaking discovery that women are more at ease about and around death than men, or is it that dudes just don't really seem to be excited about flowers and frills? Interesting...
I had to put this up. Sorry Lindsay. Bad angles?
I ran into Lindsay McDougall last night, or should I say, he walked right past me and then sat right by me. Out of all of the seats in the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, a man who I've only cut and pasted myself alongside in photos thus proceeded to insert himself into my physical reality. (Wow, that sounds really wrong.)
We've chatted a few times on jjj, but to meet and chat was quite a treat. As is he. It's not often you have a conversation with someone about a band you like and they say "Oh, I played guitar with them the other day..." Talent whore I say.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
There really are some awesome people in the world. I recently met one such individual via this very bloggy blogs.
Her name is Sophie Benjamin, a Toowoombite (?) who knows how to use scholarly words in a funny and thought provoking way. For some reason Sophie was inspired to use her talents to write about me and my funerary endevours in her very own zine, 'I am very busy and important.'
I think you should probably check out her website @ http://www.iamverybusyandimportant.net/. It will enrich your life.
Buy her zine (It's 2.50 clams) and read about media moguls, moving to Toowoomba and wolf wisdom. And a four page article about me! Hoorah!
Hello new fellow writer friend! Bravo! Exclamation!!!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Swoon. Joel McHale.
Pity he's married and already into the baby making. My life would be greatly enriched by being in his social circle/pants. My emotional wellbeing would increase, thus improving my work as a funeral provider.
(And happy weekend...I'm spending my Sunday off watching back to back episodes of The Soup, naturally).
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Happy One Hundredth Post Day Blog-A-Log! (I expect a letter from the Queen.) I will accept forgeries.
So today I'm up and about early because I have two very exciting tasks ahead of me:
1) Performance Appraisal Day: Most jobs have them, and believe it or not morticians have an annual performance review as well. We are self rated on all of our skills and job requirements and then the results are discussed with our supervisors and managers.
Things like our ability to display grief and empathy are observed, as is our precision and attention to detail in facial preperation, our ability to encoffin....It's all very much job specific. It all makes me realise that if I was to enter another industry things would be very very different.
2) Secret Santa Day: Funeral Directors share the best secret santas. Most of the time it's funny jokey stuff, but last year there were some pretty sweet kris kringles floating around. I'm keen for some booze, but we'll see what lady luck brings.
Happy friday, I've got to find some socks!
In the wonderous words of Mr David Bowie, it's time to turn and face the strain (Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes).
I'm leaving my cosy, paper crane hostel of a mortuary for a bigger, bolder and bustling mortuary situated in my employers main operations building. It's only about 20 minutes away, but to me it feels like I'm leaving Kansas in the quest to conquer Oz. There is no place like home, but I need to get my head around the emerald city o' corpses.
I wouldn't leave if I could stay, but this bigger mortuary needs some serious love and attention to get it up to scratch. Sometimes it's the busiest places that are overlooked and it's my new job to make sure that the staff, the environment AND the deceased are comfortable, safe and managed.
I'm quepping balls. I'm going from a solo mission to a mega conglomeration of staff. I'm used to listening to whatever I want, singing full gusto without any feedback. Wearing whatever I want, with no one to see that I haven't tweezed my eyebrows in a month. I have no idea how I'm going to fare around people that may judge me for the oddball professional that I am....
At least there's a constant. There will be blood, sweat and maybe tears. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I talk about myself alot when I write about my job. I don't know why. I think it's because it has been the precursor in my life to a level of personal maturity. I didn't have a teen pregnancy, I haven't lost any parents yet...I just became a mortician. Weird. And, only sometimes this maturity rears it's demure head...
Being in the mortuary, sometimes I forget to explain what goes on outside my brightly lit and bleachy-smelling (yet otherwise pleasant) four walls. I don't know what I would've thought happened when people actually die if I hadn't come to work with the slowly decomposing every day. Here goes my attempt at a concise and simple explaination.
People die for heaps of reasons. Most of the time because they were very sick, sometimes because they got sick really quickly, sometimes by accident, and sometimes by their own will. That pretty much covers it. That's the why (without getting into philosophy and population theories, cripes!).
Death for those that deal with the 'immediately-after' side of things is broken down into unexpected death and expected death. Whenever someone dies outside of a hospital, expected or unexpected, the ambulance or personal doctor is called to do their thang. When the death has been expected and the doctor agrees to sign off on a cause of death (referred to as the all important Form 9, just to get technical) the funeral home is then called to take the deceased into their care. That, my friends, is me!
When either the death is unexpected or the doctor cannot for whatever reason sign off on the Form 9, the coroner may be called to take on the case and deem the cause of death. In this case, a funeral company under contract is called by police to transfer the deceased to the John Tonge Centre in Brisbane for coronial investigation.
Of course, the family is a funeral homes focus. We stay in touch from the moment we recieve the first call until after the funeral takes place. Following the first call, the family is assigned an 'arranger' that is a contact person for the particular branch where the funeral home runs from. Arrangers are like angels, but sometimes have big bellies, ancient briefcases and snorty laughs. I generally like them as people. They pretty much organise everything paperworky and tricky.
So, generally the funeral can run however the family want. There is a stock standard committal, but most funeral diectors prefer it when the deceased is honoured with a really personal tribute that shows us who they really were in life. Sounds cheesy but the more work for us, the happier we are because it makes the job crazy interesting. I know at least I walk away feeling like I've made an important connection after every one. I remember deceased names sometimes better than I do walking, living and breathing people.
Anyway, I prepare the deceased a day or two before the big send off, and often people 'view' the body a day before the service in a special reflection room filled with ambient lights, nice couches and soft mozarty-kind tunes. It's a good way to deal with the realities I think. I'm all for demystifying the process, and it makes it so much less scarier. Kind of like eating prawns for the first time. (Kinda?!?)
Then, after the service the body is cremated or buried. The immediate tasks are over and generally, the long road to healing begins.....A long, long rong it is.
Peace and Love.
P.S. More on cremation and burial to come. Lots more!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I realised today that it's almost been a year since my good friend Gus convinced me to think about writing a blog. I've said this previously, but it was during a sunny, punch fuelled Australia day bbq that the idea was first conceived. I think I might show you what the day looked like so you can visualise....
....yup. I'm rocking the sensible brimmed hat and the penis cup...
Anyway, It was a great day and a great idea. Many a win has been borneth from this very blog. Because of it's success, I feel that I need to celebrate the blogs anniversary with a killer blog party. It did strike me though that I should probably wait until the official one year birthday (May 21st), as you don't really celebrate someones birthday on the day their mum and dad shared sexy times.
So, you (dear reader) need to prepare for May 21st. It's a long way away, but food for thought. I'd really like to see a couple of bands, maybe even the debut of the man band, in a rollerskating rink? Or, as will probably happen, a Brisbane venue with plenty of ale and space for a polka.
If there are any Brisbane bands that a) have tambourine girls b) use castanets or c)want to play at my party for free/for limited booze/for my appreciation then drop me an email. I'd (probably) love to have you.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
I attended the most elaborate and amazing funeral service yesterday. A much loved and widely respected individual passed away and thousands of people mourned the death. It was a breath-taking experience, yet one that made me think about those that pass that don't, for one reason or another, have any sort of send off at all.
A shift in popular choice from burial to cremation has occured over the past 40 odd years, and with this came the reluctant advent of the NSNA. An NSNA arrangement in funeral director jargon means 'No service and no attendance.'
For funeral homes, this is the still respected yet least favourable arrangement, as the costs are so low that as a business there is little to make any money from. As you can probably tell from the last ninety-five posts, I'm not so keen on making profit from grief so that side of the NSNA arrangement doesn't phase me in the slightest.
I understand also that some dying people, as a final request, ask not to have a funeral service. Makes sense to me. Some selfless people would prefer their familes to use that money for a holiday or for the grandkids trust fund. Other people just don't want any fuss so they prearrange and opt for a no frills attached 'essential' coffin and meet their maker without much further ado.
I pause for reflection however when a John Doe is transferred into our care. Of course, as they have no known family or friends, the government pay for only the bare essentials. It's a similar scenario when family members have no money at all, and the deceased doesn't get to tread indulgently into the afterlife draped in silks and fineries.
In all NSNA's; un-healthy, un-wealthy, unwise or wise, each deceased person gets the same level of care and compassion as the next. I figure, when you're dead you need a friend in the fridge (and that's me).
So, even though no-one is going to see them I paint their nails and blow dry their hair. They even get a spritz of chanel and a slick of lippie (only the ladies, or the men if requested and they're that way inclined). In the mortuary everyone gets treated the same regardless of whether or not the lid will be lifted ever again. Word.
This post is dedicated to you, my unsung NSNA's. You are somebody to me.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
(Sage advice, picture philosopher.)
Imagine over 150 funeral directors, cemetery staff and crematorium operators at a party together. What do you envision?
I had the pleasure of this experience on Saturday night, and contrary to popular cultural belief it appears that those in the 'death care' industry really know how to let their hair down. Behind the gents' perfectly double-windsored ties and the ladies' meticulously manicured fingernails lies a collection of kindred souls that crave a good rum and coke and a samba session.
I haven't blogged enough this week, mostly because I'm in major recovery mode. For the first time in a while I didn't slip into my bed until 4:30AM the morning after the party. I thoroughly indulged. So much so, that I remember texting my manager who was out at another club that I couldn't meet him because I could no longer see....
Sometimes, you just have to kick your heels up. Tis' the season, right?
P.S. Herein lies a formal apology to those that I may have slurred to, dribbled on, man-handled under the mistletoe, unabashedly body slammed.... Feel free to take me out again in twelve months and assault me with such offences.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Happy Holidays to the Lindsay Lohan of yesteryear.
I went to a Christmas memorial service this week, held to honour and remember those that had passed during the year. Grandmas and Grandpas, Parents, Children and friends...It really hit home that on Christmas day so many Brisbane families will have a spare seat at the dinner table and thousands of stockings will go unhung for the first time.
I guess Christmas is the quintessential hallmark day where families are supposed to join for thanks and celebration. In reality, there'll be plenty of families cringing in each others company and grumbling about the fact that they 'have to' break bread with the people they try year long to seperate themselves from.
On the other hand, I have faith that there are families who use the holidays as they should be...a public holiday to hang out, share and learn and drink gallons of nog.
All of the observations about grief and loss I've made during the last twelve months seem relevant now that people are harking to the herald angels. Why wait until Christmas day to give thanks? Why do we only see distant relatives for Christmas, weddings and funerals? They're linked, thats why!
If you don't like them, perhaps don't see them. Try sharing light and positivity to those that turn your frowns upside downs. Simple as that.
Get festive fools (in moderation). Word.