The twilight’s last gleaming

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist Last week, I was approached to help “retire” flags as the other funeral home in the area has recently changed their corporate policy and will no longer honor this gesture. Even after 25 years of funeral-directing, I can still come across requests that require me to do a little research. This is…

Dealing with a motherless Mother’s Day

Ken McKenzie Columnist When we physically lose our mothers to death, our normal daily routines are uprooted and redirected forever. When Mother’s Day comes around, it can make the formerly anticipated holiday feared. Just a few years ago, the holiday for me meant watching others take their mothers to a brunch, a picnic in a…

Mortuary vocabulary 101

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist When completing tasks around the mortuary, it is not unusual for me to blurt out something to an apprentice such as “get me a church truck.” Typically, I can overlook the fact that a new apprentice would have no idea of what I am talking about. A church truck is a wheeled…

Giving Santa the boot

Kenneth McKenze Columnist I was reaching the age when I was beginning to doubt that Santa Claus was real. It was the day before Christmas Eve, and since our entire family would be joining us at our house for Christmas Day, there were plenty of chores for each of us to do. My brother and…

Pre-planning and pre-paying are the way to go

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist By making your own arrangements in advance, you take away the guesswork for your family, with what you want or do not want. Pre-planning will help keep your family in emotional check, by helping them not to overspend when they are upset. By pre-planning and pre-paying, your wishes are locked in place,…

Old mortuary stories debunked

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist No matter where I go, and someone finds out what I do for a living, there is always this story shared with me: Yeah, my uncle worked at a funeral home when he was in college, and it was his job to close up the funeral home at night and do the cleanup and vacuuming, etc.…

Given the choice…

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist Isn’t it scary working in a funeral home around all those “dead people?” I don’t know how many times I, or anyone who works with me, is asked this question. The simple answer is just this…no! Between the living and the dead, I would choose the dead to work with rather than the living.

It’s just birth…in reverse

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist I was driving around a couple of weekends ago, doing my normal thing: yard sales and estate sales. I watch like a hawk for signs written on florescent-green paper or hand-written cardboard signs steering people toward unfound treasures. While driving, I saw a sign way up in the distance. The sign looked…

Handling a delicate form of cargo

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist I received a call a few days ago from a woman while she was reading the daily obituaries. She told me, “I have a very strange question.” I told her that I had heard it all. “Well then, first of all I check the obituaries every morning to make sure my name…

Doing it before it’s too late

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist Last night I conducted a funeral service here at the mortuary chapel. The services were for a man who had died unexpectedly. At his service, many family members, friends and neighbors stood up and shared a personal story or memory. It was then that I realized that this service was very similar…

What to do with unused graves

Kenneth McKenzie Columnist On the average, I meet with 1,100 families a year here at the mortuary. I would guesstimate 50 percent of those people I meet with have already purchased cemetery property. I would say a good 25 percent of those people have now decided to cremate and not utilize the grave(s) previously purchased.…