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The “Everday Hero”within us

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It was in church this morning – yes, I’m writing this on Sunday and I was in church attendance today for the third consecutive week – that I caught an idea for a blog article.  We live in Minnesota and church attendance, with certain rules, has been in effect for three weeks.  The spiritual realm is a big part of our life, so this has been an uplifting part of June for Angie and I.

Today when sitting in church the pastor mentioned that one of the really good things about the COVID-19 episode in America is that we are beginning to appreciate those everyday workers among us whose jobs we generally take for granted but the pandemic has put them in the spotlight on how our country could not function at a high level without them.

Some of the occupations he mentioned included nurses, truck drivers who deliver our goods, warehouse workers, and those in the quick service restaurant industry who have been busy preparing the meals that we can obtain thru drive through or curbside pick-up.  And, on the other hand, we may have through the course of this pandemic, dropped some of the respect we have for athletes, entertainers, and politicians with whom we have idolized and adored over the course of time.  For instance, Major League Baseball players and their owners are fighting over what percentage of their pay they should receive when,  many whom have recently joined the unemployment ranks, in our nation are looking to baseball as something to look forward to on the road to normalcy.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m anxious to watch the PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab final round today as it is the first PGA Tour event to be held since the beginning of the pandemic.  However, as the pastor pointed out, maybe we are realizing who really has value in our society during this pandemic.

And, as I sat in my pew, I could not help but to think of those in the death care profession who in my opinion, have always been unsung heroes in their communities, but now some communities are beginning to see the value of these people.  I came home from church and checked today’s articles to see if any funeral directors were being so recognized.

I found this article from the River Journal of New York which tells us of Carmine Carpinone, the owner of Dwyer & Michaels Funeral Home and of Jason Chiaramonte of Peekskill’s Nardone Funeral Home.  The article tells of these two men and their services to their community which is finally being recognized.  The article states that the two “candidly gave us a keen sense of the challenging and sensitive humanity required by their profession”.

Carpinone mentions that the volume of work was so heavy that his funeral home had to turn people from out of the county away, “I didn’t want to, but we needed to serve our community first,” he is quoted as saying in the article.

Chiaramonte commented,  “No one could have predicted the surge of deaths, inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), and not being able to hug those who needed it the most — the bereaved. This has a tremendous effect on me as a funeral director, because what I love most about my job is connecting with people. . . . My job is to support and service those in their worst days.”

The River Journal article ultimately concludes that “Both Carpinone and Chiaramonte have used all their experience and resources to provide comfort to the mourners.  Ultimately, both Carpinone and Chiaramonte mourn with the families they serve. Their job is one of human connection.”

A second article that I found was from the Oxford (MS) Eagle and was entitled “Coronavirus Heroes Part 7:  LaVera Hodges”.  Ms. Hodges owns and operates the L. Hodges Funeral Service.

Among other things, Ms. Hodges is quoted in the article on how she and her staff have to make even more meaningful connections with the families that they serve because friends and mourners have not been able to continue their connections in person because of the pandemic. Here is what is said of Ms. Hodges in the article, “The only other thing that has really changed is that services have become more meaningful for her employees and for grieving families.  It brought on an even more meaningful connection with them. We’ve really had to focus on the families and on their grief, and helping them through their grief in such a different manner. People that they would normally have with them just because they were able to be there aren’t there. So, just being able to be there and say ‘Yes, your best friend can’t be here with you today. I’ll be your best friend today.’ For me, it brought on a more personal connection with all of the families.”

Funeral Director Daily take:  I pretty much agree with what the pastor said today.  We, as Americans, are taking another look at what makes our country operate.  Over the years there has been a lot of people out there who pitch in day in and day out and go unnoticed.  I think we will be better as a nation if we can realize the contributions of all in society. . . . .and funeral directors are no small part of that contribution.

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