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Yeah, We Can Do It With a Broken Heart

I know that I'm going to lose a lot of people as soon as I mention the name, Taylor Swift, but hang in there with me. Yes, the popular singer is known for her countless songs written around her current and past relationships. One of the brilliant things about her writing, though, is not that it's all about her exes, but that the lyrics are written in a way that they put words to emotions that make people feel like they're not alone regardless of the situation.

Yes, I was that millennial who stayed up until midnight to listen to the new album released, "The Tortured Poets Department," and although most songs didn't resonate with me because of where I am in my own healing journey, one song did. The song, titled, "I Can Do It With a Broken Heart, stopped me in my tracks. I had to play it again and again and again. What caught my attention were the lyrics that I felt hit me on a more unique level than most-it hit me as a funeral director.

"Cause I'm a real tough kid

They said, 'Babe, you gotta fake it 'til you make it'

and I did"

Oof. Anyone that knows me knows that one of my favorite lines to use is, "fake it til you make it." Talk about being called out. It definitely caught my attention with that one. As I continued to listen, the lyrics really made me think about the funeral industry in general and those serving while carrying their own burdens.

How many times have we, as funeral professionals, had our world falling apart, but we have to leave it at the door because our job is to help someone else through one of the worst days of their lives? How often have we had to put our own grief aside to give all of our attention to the grieving person sitting across from us? How many times have we seen our own loved ones in the faces of those lying on the table, or hear the stories of loved ones that share common stories with our own? How many times have we taken a moment to break down, pull it together, and head back inside because we need to be strong for the families we are currently serving? How often have we minimized the depth of our pain because we may feel it's selfish or unprofessional of us to have a moment of vulnerability, whether it's due to our own standards or those placed on us by society? Yes, we are at work and we are there to do a job, but, my dear colleagues, we are also human.

"Breaking down, I hit the floor

All the pieces of me shattered as the crowd was

chanting, 'More'

I was grinnin' like I'm winnin'

I was hittin' my marks

'Cause I can do it with a broken heart."

I am personally the worst when it comes to this. Speaking from my own experience, I feel heartbreak so deeply that it is crippling at times. I know what it feels like to cry as you put your funeral suit on in the morning wondering how you're going to take the next step. The times when you have to bring a makeup bag with you because some tears just seem to sneak out no matter how hard you try to hold them in. I know the feeling of a 12 hour work day where you haven't eaten because the thought of food makes you sick, and now you're shaking and lightheaded as you gown up for your third embalming of the day. I know the struggle of literally forcing yourself to smile when coworkers say good morning, only to drop it immediately once you've turned the corner. When you’re trying to find the strength before a family arrives because you just want to collapse on the floor from the overwhelming weight in your chest. Or Having to flip the switch and dig deep to offer hope to a widow when you don't even feel it yourself. When the congregation stands and you have to face forward, holding your breath, and confidently walk down the aisle because YOU are the one responsible for guiding that widow down the aisle to that daunting first row.

"I cry a lot, but I'm productive, it's an art

You know you're good when you can even do it

with a broken heart."

Now, I know not everyone experiences heartbreak like I do. Everyone's threshold is different depending on the situation and the person. It could be the fear and pain when children are sick at home, going through financial difficulties, marriage is falling apart, or a parent is close to the end. Everyone has their own story and their own heartbreak that they go through. That's why the quote, 'be kind to those you meet because everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about,' is such a powerful one. The coworker who seems to have it all together might be crumbling on the inside. The one who is easily irritable might be barely hanging on. The one who is quiet might be internalizing everything, constantly replaying it over and over in their head. We're all just trying to do our job, trying to do our best, even with a broken heart.

"I can hold my breath

I've been doin' it since he left

I keep finding his things in drawers

Crucial evidence I didn't imagine the whole thing"

Then there's the view that can be taken from our families. I have heard this part said in various different ways from families with their own struggle of coming to terms with the loss. At times, it can be easy to disconnect from our emotions with families. Funeral directors can get into a rhythm where it all starts to sound the same and routines can become repetitive. I hope that this will be a gentle reminder that every family is different even if the steps seem the same. We have gone through this over and over, but this may be the first time they're experiencing it. We have a duty to serve families as a funeral professional, but we also have an obligation as human beings.

And, I feel like this needs to be said, just because you feel someone is going through something 'worse' than what you're going doesn't mean you're not worthy of feeling the pain. I hear so many people say this, and it really breaks my heart. Your battles and your heartbreak are not up for comparison. Acknowledge your pain and allow yourself to feel it. If it matters to you then it matters period.

"You know you're good

And I'm good

'Cause I'm miserable

And nobody even knows"

So, the next time you're listening to Taylor Swift in the hearse (it's okay, you don't have to admit it out loud), just remember to give yourself grace. You can be professional and still be human. You can serve others while also showing kindness to yourself. Check on your coworkers, too. Give them grace as well. There can be safety and healing for all inside the walls of the funeral home. Words can be powerful. Let us remember the words below that are commonly posted all around, offering silent permission and meant to speak to families. They're speaking to us too.

And, if no one has told you today, I love you. I see you. You matter, and you're doing a great job even with all that you are carrying. We are in this together.

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Apr 24

Amazing writing and reflections.

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Thank you for your kind words!


Apr 22
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

This was all the things that I needed to hear today ❤️

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