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The Last Responder: A Letter to My Friends

Written by Dr. Jzyk S. Ennis

Introduction by Regan Moreland.

March. 11th There are several things that are being celebrated today:

Ramadan begins. It's Commonwealth Day in Canada. National Johnny Appleseed Day. World Plumbing Day. National Oatmeal Nut Waffle Day (You think I'm kidding).

Some people are just trying to adjust to the recent time change.

But today holds a special meaning for us-National Funeral Director and Mortician Day.

It's the day where we shine the light on professionals that are most often in the shadows. We don't mind being in the background-most were trained to develop comfort in it. We don't mind standing outside, quiet and patient, to give you as much time as you need. You don't think about us until you need us, and we know you feel the pain every time you see our face after. We don't take it personal. It's the trade off for being able to serve you at that horrible moment. It's a calling. Someone has to be the one, and we are humbled and honored to serve in any way we can to help make that pain a little less in the days that follow.

Dr. Jzyk S. Ennis, an author, licensed funeral director, embalmer, and instructor for Jefferson State's Mortuary Science program, started the day with a post on Facebook that caught fire amongst fellow funeral colleagues for its honest and gentle explanation to non-funeral director friends of why this day is important to us. Most have seen it (230+ shares) but, with his blessing, I wanted to post it here for those that may not be connected on Facebook. Read it, share it, talk to others about it. Glimpses like this help to make us feel not so alone. We're all in this together.


To my non-funeral director friends...

You may not understand that today is National Funeral Director and Morticians Day. Please take a few minutes to understand the significance of today.

After all, we are generally not included in recognition for first responders, teachers, and other service-related professionals. Funeral directors and morticians are the silent responders that you really don’t want to think about or do business with…until death comes like a thief in the night. Unplanned. Unexpected, many times. Fear, panic, confusion, and wondering what to do, you need help during crisis. We awake from a sound sleep and a warm bed to respond to your call. For some, death is a welcome friend from a moment of suffering. We are there to help you push aside that memory of pain and grief by assisting you in remembering and celebrating the wonderful life they lived.

We leave our spouses, children, and families on off days and holidays to help friends and strangers who need help in their darkest hours. We don’t complain because that’s what we are called to do. To serve others.

Being a funeral director/mortician is emotionally grueling. We see and touch the physical aftermath of trauma, violence, and the ravages of disease and death. We are called for the old, the stillborn, and everyone in between. We experience the wailing and crying of survivors and loved ones devastated by the pain of loss and grief. And, we must emotionally detach ourselves from both in order to fulfill our calling to serve. In some circles, we are lampooned and mocked. “Dismal Traders “ we have been called. Ghouls, freaks, and just weird, some have said.

The reality is that the emotional price of dealing with death on a routine basis must be paid. Like an actor on the stage, we mask our own fears, stress, and pain…until we cannot. Payment may be made out of public sight on our knees sobbing in the shower. It may be paid crying on the shoulder of family, friends, or colleagues. It may try to be paid through laughing it off or in a bottle. Some may stoically try to hold it all in.

The price of dealing with death must be paid, and some cannot afford the cost. Many leave our profession because the cost is too high, the pay too low, and the hours too long. It is just too much.

I don’t ask for your pity or your applause. I just ask for your understanding, and for you to just take a moment to thank God for the “Undertaker”, who answers your call for help.

To my fellow funeral directors and morticians, thank you for answering the call. I thank you for your personal sacrifices and for helping others over yourselves. It is a noble profession. It is a honorable calling. Don’t lose faith or hope. Just keep serving. Today is your day, and you deserve to be recognized and celebrated. I pray that God will bless and sustain each of you in these endeavors!

Dr. Jzyk S. Ennis-Facebook Post


Happy Funeral Director and Mortician Day

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