Thursday, May 13, 2010

Death at a funeral

I promised myself when I started this blog that I would tell the lighter, brighter side of the stories that pass through my hearse. Today is an exception. This story just needs to be told.

Let me set the stage for today's funeral. It has been raining for nearly a week here in Michigan. Today is no exception to that. It is a high of 9/49 degrees (depending on if your cel. or fer.). The rain was coming down sideways with the cold wind out of the N/E coming across Lake St.Clair and right through me. All of the streems, rivers and lakes are at or above flood stage and still more rain in the forcast.

Totally drenched and frozen, my job as the hearse driver, is to line up cars for the procession as they pull into the parking lot. If everyone isn't lined up right and flagged propperly, it leaves gaps in the line as we go down the road. And that is when accidents happen. Out of courtesy, I also help those that need it out of their cars and up stairs etc. Today I had the pleasure of holding a golf umbrella in the high winds to keep the ladies dry.

The gentleman that died was in his eighties and had actually died quite quickly. He was getting out of his car the other day and just dropped right there. When his cousin arrived and I lined up her car, I could see that this older lady was going to need some help navigating the steps and I thought it polite to try and keep her dry. I held her hand as we went up the steps at the front of the funeral home. I could feel her trembling all the way. When I got her inside, she told me that she was having trouble breathing. I motioned for help and escorted her to the nearest chair. As she started to sit, she just collapsed in my arms. The funeral director was on the spot right away and administering CPR. While the secretary was on the phone to 911. The police,fire truck and ambulance were all there in minutes (which seemed like forever). I was trying to keep everyone else calm and even made my way back outside where more people were showing up and needed my assistance parking and entering the service. So it wasn't until later that I learned that the woman had died right there in my arms and there was nothing anyone could have done. This was the first time I've ever seen someone being carried OUT of a funeral home on a stretcher. Even the funeral director said that was a first for him in his 40 years in the business.

I see the results of death everyday. I'm still shaking from this experience as I write this. This to me is a reminder just how frail life can be. And that we all need to live our lives for today because we are not guaranteed a tomorrow.


Past and Present said...

Hi Stew, I suppose death is part of living so your blog is interesting to read. Sad but nice you were there to help this old lady just when she needed it most. That was a kind thing to do, it is more than just a job I am sure. The weather sounds real bad.
Bless your kind heart.

Jabacue said...

What a wonderful way to go for this woman. There you were offering her kindness and a helping hand......her last emotion/feeling may have been gratitude to you for assisting her. Nice way to go!

Stew said...

I am glad that I was there to help. I just wish there was something that I could have done. I am feeling better about the whole thing after a little time has passed.