\Death and dying and funerals are things most people don’t want to talk about. Politics and religion may be sensitive subjects if you want a friendly and peaceful evening. Many people say this subject should be avoided. You don’t have to tell most people to avoid talking about death.
But that wasn’t the case earlier this week when we attended the National Funeral Directors Association meeting in Salt Lake City. John grew up in a funeral home and we owned and operated that funeral home for nearly 9 years. Death and grief and funerals were a central factor in our lives. That continued when John became an Episcopal priest and officiated at funerals and counseled with the grief of survivors. For years we taught classes on death and grief to church groups, high school students and seminarians at Nashotah House while John was there.
Obviously, we don’t find it difficult to talk about death and people came to us at a time they needed to face the subject. We aren’t involved with any of this today in our retirement. But it was good, even inspiring, to be around all the funeral directors and others at the convention. There were nearly 6,000 people there including 300 from over 30 foreign countries. And we were really impressed at how the focus today is on allowing people to personalize the funerals they are called on to arrange or that they pre-plan for themselves.
The morning of the final full day of the convention included a service of remembrance for members of the association that have died in the past year as well as family and friends of the people in attendance. Since the convention was held in Salt Lake City, two small ensembles from the Morman Tabernacle choir provided the music. It was a very meaningful and comforting service, even for those of us who had not dealt with death in the past year.
In addition to the rich experience of seeing how funeral directors are working today, we were thrilled to be present when Chuck Bowman was installed as president of the association. A neighbor to John’s family when they were all growing up, Chuck learned about the job of mortician while working for John’s dad. Later, when we were running the business, he worked for and with us. He then decided to go to mortuary school and since then has served as funeral director for several of our family’s funerals. He was an acolyte in our wedding and one of his daughters served in that way at our son Eric’s wedding. One of his daughters is our god daughter. We enjoyed spending time with the whole family during the convention.