Journalist Dylan Brethour recently wrote a moving article for Metro.co.uk on what it’s like living in a funeral home. In the evocative piece, the author discussed how witnessing death and grieving so closely and so regularly impacted her own views on dying.
Following a bad break up, Dylan found herself without anywhere to live. Offered a place to stay rent-free, until she got back on her feet, she was loath to turn down the generous offer. However, it came with a catch. Despite being friends with the couple for a while, and quite used to the sight of funerals, coffins, the dead and the bereaved, moving into the funeral home with the couple presented a shock.
She writes, “At first, the experience was a little underwhelming. The funeral home felt like a mid-range hotel, just with people who had died upstairs.” Separated from mourners by “a closed door and a flight of stairs,” the shock didn’t set in immediately. Yet, the author describes the impact of it started setting in when she saw a dead body lying in a coffin for the first time: “It didn’t make me anxious or upset, but life began to seem a lot more fragile,” she wrote.
Describing the deceased as a woman of her mother’s age, Dylan juxtaposed the image of the elaborate floral arrangements used in the ceremony, to the image of disposing of them once the funeral was over. She wrote, “It felt incredibly strange to help throw away the flowers after her funeral. I remember thinking that they were such strong expressions of love, and now they were all in compost.”
In a thought-provoking conclusion to the piece, the author summarised, “My experience left a permanent mark; it completely transformed how I think about death and dying. It’s comforting to recognise that death is a normal part of life, and one where we still have choices.”