New York State Funeral Directors Association

My salt and pepper shakers are skulls.

At my wedding, I had skeletons dressed as a bride and groom sitting on my head table. I took monthly maternity photos in a cemetery.

For as long as I can remember, death and its symbols have been woven into my life.

I don’t want to lie; I’ve liked it this way.

I’ve grown accustomed to being known as the funeral girl.

A long time ago I even had a friend call me ‘the death master.’

I laughed and we continued our conversation. This was my life, my normal.

And then, something amazing happened.

She was always wanted. From the very moment I saw those two pink lines appear I knew my life was going to be different.

It started out small, I stopped moving caskets and assisting as a pallbearer on funerals.

I made certain that I always had food on me so that I wouldn’t skip a meal like I sometimes had to when work got busy.

As more time went on I learned to adapt.

I’d waddle across grass to say prayers at a graveside service. I wasn’t able to button my suit coat. I had life growing inside of me, and for the majority of my pregnancy I could not acknowledge that.

Because working in a funeral home and being surrounded by death meant more than just having Halloween decorations around my house all year long; it meant that I could not make things grow.

It meant that I had a shadow looming over me. It meant that I had a good life and it was about time I’d have to confront pain.

The pain came, but not as I expected.

It came for twenty-one straight hours.

It came as I sat in the shower with the hot water hitting my back. It came in waves of not being able to catch my breath.

It came through pushing through my body and delivering life into this world. There were moments that I was positive that I was dying.

There was no way that I could be in as much pain as I was and for my body to continue living, I was sure of it.

And looking back, I now understand more clearly.

Contrary to what people were telling me, I was dying.

My life and who I knew myself to be died with every contraction I felt.

You see, I had to die and lose who I had been. As my baby came earthside and gasped her first breath, I was reborn.

It has been a journey.

Long days and nights that have somehow still managed to go by in the blink of an eye.

And as time has gone on, I’ve found myself back in the funeral home.

I look at things differently nowadays.

The old who have closed their eyes offer me their stories, told by the family that they’ve grown.

It is a privilege to be invited in, even if it’s at the end. I smile when I see children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Family is truly a legacy and a blessing and I cannot believe that I have my own.

Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine what mine will look like in fifty years.

But then, just as quickly, I open them, because I do not wish to speed time along. It moves fast enough as it is.

And then, there are the babies and children. I’ve had limited experiences with those deaths since becoming a mother, but unfortunately, I’ve still sat with those parents.

These deaths have always been difficult, but they sting more now.

Now, they are personal. Now, I have a face that I see when I look at these parents.

This is a death that I do not wish to know, and I pray to God every day that I will never be able to hold their hands and tell them that I too have walked that path.

The salt and pepper shakers still sit on the table and I still wear black every day.

But if you look closely, you’ll see spit-up on my shoulder. You may notice that I haven’t washed my hair. So yes, my life is very different nowadays.

I do not want to be known as the funeral girl.

I want to be known as a mother who loves her family, and who helps other families when they need it most.

I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference, especially in the life of that little girl who I rock to sleep every night.

There’s going to come the time when she sits down with a funeral director to bury me.

And when that time comes, I want her to be able to feel, without a doubt, all of my love surrounding her.

LittleMissFuneralLauren LeRoy
Lauren LeRoy, AKA Little Miss Funeral, is a licensed funeral director in New York State. A 2010 graduate of the New England Institute at Mount Ida College, LeRoy started blogging in 2012.