A LIFE FULL / A HEART FULL
The funeral business is indeed different from other enterprises that provide goods and services. If goods and services are all we provide, we are failing to fulfill wonderful opportunities to provide comfort and understanding along the way.
We not only sympathize we empathize, that is we put ourselves in your place. We hurt when you hurt. We have all cried many private tears though we endeavor always to maintain dignity and personal detachment in our public duties.
Although I have not been involved at the funeral home on a day-to-day basis for a number of years now, I talk regularly with those there. Beth especially knows of my personal interest in the folks served, and she and I talk at length.
A practice which I began when we opened our funeral home almost 19 years ago was writing personal letters and enclosing grief helps to those who have lost loved ones. Although I am no longer present daily at the funeral home, I continue this practice. Many of these letters are to old friends, acquaintances, or members of families long known to me. Others are to people I do not know—and these are usually the hardest to write.
Memories often lead me in my attempt to give some comfort to those grieving. Perhaps my sharing of these memories has at times brought back the tears— but often tears help with the healing. I have been told the letters and grief helps have been consoling, though I am sure I have also blundered at times in my attempts. I am always mindful that grief may well be one of our most intimately personal emotions. Each must cope in his/her own way. I have read a lot about grief, I have experienced loss in my own family and of close friends, and I have talked with countless persons experiencing grief.
We have many times in Seasons included suggestions about helpful books and pamphlets, and we have assembled a considerable collection of these in our lending library at the Funeral Home. A very helpful book of the early 80’s was written by Bea Decker, founder of THEOS, They Help Each Other Spiritually. The book titled, After the Flowers Have Faded, seeks to help through those days and weeks when in fact the flowers have faded, the casseroles and cakes are gone and dishes returned. Telephone calls, cards, and letters have dwindled, but the sorrow remains. I try to send my letters and enclosures to arrive about the fourth week after a funeral service.
When I was at the Funeral Home regularly, I often visited in homes where death had occurred. I found that those who are beginning that long difficult journey through grief often want to talk about events leading toward the death, the days getting through the funeral or memorial service, the persons involved in activities and services, and their own personal reactions. Talking it through often seems to aid healing. Some people, however, prefer to hold private their feelings and experiences, and we respect that privilege.
There never seems a right time or an easy way to give up one we love. If death is sudden and unexpected, we may feel a bit of time to prepare would have helped. An extended illness ending with death causes sorrow for the suffering as well as for the death. It has been said that the death of an adult child is one of life’s greatest sorrows. As one gentleman commented to me, "Men should bury their fathers."
The death of a small or youthful child takes flesh of our flesh and parents can hardly bear that parting. The death of an infant brings terrible pain. The opportunity to hold, rock, and dress their baby before burial has been found to have healing power for some parents. Grandparents suffer twice in the death of a grandchild— once for the grandchild and once for their own child who is grieving. When parents die, we relive the days when they nurtured and cared for us, and we miss the comfort of "going home.’ The death of a brother or sister leaves a painful void in the family and often means the loss of a dearest friend. A violent death at the hands of another or a suicide brings not only grief but often anger, bitterness, and questions— why? The deaths of friends may bring memories of close and dear relationships. [When my mother died, a very touching moment for me was when her "chums" as they referred to themselves, stood beside her casket and reminisced of their high school days and expressed their love for Mother.]
I have been touched deeply by the deaths of older people, those of the generation of my parents, who have made meaningful contributions to my life and to the lives of others. All towns, rural communities, and churches have those who are outstanding leaders who leave behind their mark for good and an expansive void when they are gone.
The loss of a spouse can be the most devastating of all. Along with the anguish of the loss of this nearest and dearest companion come necessary changes in activities and arrangements. Understanding family and friends can ease the pain by sharing memories, listening, providing help with tasks, including the grieving one in activities, not pushing for any quick changes, allowing the grieving person to act or react in their own way.
I am thankful for the opportunity God granted me to assist in grief healing. I ask His help constantly that I might be effective in this endeavor.
Longer than I have been involved in funeral service, I have been a farmer’s wife. I ponder sometimes if I would be as conscious of our total dependence on God if my husband were not a farmer. I have told many times of an incident which occurred in the early 70’s while I was Chancery Clerk. Young farm wives seem to especially enjoy this tale and sometimes in a group those who have heard it ask me to repeat it for a newcomer.
Preceding an-out-of town night meeting of an area council on which I represented our county, I found myself in conversation with a lady who obviously had everything together in her life, especially her appearance. Her hair, nails, clothes, makeup, and fine jewelry were perfect in every detail. [I had gone to the meeting straight from a long hard day’s work in the office, and I am sure the wear of the day was as obvious in my looks as in my feelings.] Rather coolly but charmingly the lady asked, "And, Mrs. Waller, what does your husband do?" I replied, "He is a farmer." She turned my answer aside and pressed, "Oh, but what is his profession?"
At this point, I overcame the intimidation that had gripped me, I bristled, straightened my shoulders, looked her straight in the eye, and said, "My husband is a botanist, a chemical engineer, a mechanical engineer, a geneticist, a biochemist, and a financier. If he were not, he could not be making a living as a farmer."
With each of us, all we have, all we are, and all we can ever hope to be are direct blessings from God. However, perhaps no other profession is more directly dependent upon God than is farming. I am proud to be a farmer’s wife and am thankful for the special appreciation this life has given me for God’s world and for His many blessings.
Life with Don as State President of the Farm Bureau Federation has also been an important part of my life. I have found many things to enjoy and admire about the practices, people, and places to which this association has brought me. Only one I will mention here.
I like so much that Farm Bureau Federation meetings are always opened with an invocation and the pledge to the flag. I feel proud at the Annual Convention when the General Session is opened with an invocation, the posting of the colors, and the singing of the national anthem. The flags are present throughout the convention and are retired at the end of the closing banquet.
I never say the phrase in the pledge to the flag, "One nation, under God" thoughtlessly. I remember when it was added and wondered then and wonder now how it was left out in the beginning. I remember so clearly memorizing the pledge to the flag with my mother’s patient help. She always admonished me to stand proudly as I recited—and I do.
In the fall during the harvest season as we look toward the celebrating of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am overwhelmed with God’s blessings to us. They are too numerous for me to count.
"Oh, give thanks unto the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm107:1 (NIV)
JOHN H. TATUM
John H. Tatum has joined the staff of Waller Funeral Home. He will assist in all areas of operation as he attends Northwest Mississippi Community College working toward a degree in Mortuary Science, which he expects to receive in December of 1997.
John, 22 years old, graduated from Lafayette High School in May 1994, and attended the University of Mississippi from August of 1994 until May of 1996. He has worked part-time at Jennies Hallmark and Rebel Bookstore. John developed an interest in funeral service as he worked around the funeral home during recent summers.
John was born and has lived in Lafayette County all his life. He is the son of Howard Tatum and Barbara Jenkins Bowie and the grandson of Willie Mae Tatum and the late Ira Tatum and of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Jenkins. John is a Baptist. He enjoys hunting and following Ole Miss sports.
John is enthusiastic about his career in funeral service. He enjoys working with people and looks forward to developing a career of service to the community at Waller Funeral Home and through other community activities.
A CHRISTMAS MEDITATION
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (KJ)
I have one son. If I knew every person on earth would be saved by his death to live throughout eternity with God, I could not make the decision that he die. Yet, God knowing the suffering Jesus would endure and the ultimate rejection and death, did give Him.
The life of Jesus has provided inspiration for many musical compositions. Perhaps the account of His birth has been one of the most widely used. Handel’s Messiah is one of the most majestic, praise-inspiring. How wonderful the thrill of standing through the "Hallelujah Chorus"!
John Peterson’s cantata "Love Transcending" is one of his most beautiful in words and music. One phase, "Love transcending, love unending, it was love and love alone that brought Him down," gives the full meaning of Jesus’ life.
Perhaps we can assuage our hearts when we think how important the giving of gifts has become to us by realizing God began the giving by the bestowing of His only son for us. His was the perfect gift in the truest sense—a real gift cannot be bought with only money. The three wise men chose to honor the infant king by bringing to Him the most precious items of their day as gifts. It has been said that we can give without loving but we cannot love without giving.
No setting sweeter than the humble manger scene the night Jesus was born can be depicted. Through His birth place, God gave us a further example of humility. Earthly kings are not born in mangers. Each of us has our own favorite vision of this spot and time. Many enactments are carried out at churches at Christmas with a background of carols. Christmas parade floats often depict this holy night.
Including the manger portrayal along with festive decorations in our homes serves to remind us again of the reason for the season. I like to place our manger scene on a table in the entrance hall beneath a copy of Salman’s Head of Christ. I use one of unbreakable characters so the little people who come can move these about as they ponder over this event.
When our children are very young we begin sharing this story with them. Max Lucado’s "The Crippled Lamb" has become one of my favorite Christmas stories. Written for children, it is very touching and so very right for Christmas. Christmas can only be as meaningful as we make it.
One of the very special occasions during the celebration of Jesus’ birth is attending communion services on Christmas Eve. This experience causes us to pause and reverently acknowledge the shedding of His blood and the breaking of His body for us. When these services close with candle lighting, a holy hush seems to descend upon us.
Strong family ties are important to me. These seem to be strengthened by the traditions we establish in our families. Through the years with changes of people and in time, these customs often must be rephased; however, the love which flows through us as we gather year to year from far and near brings warmth to our hearts. This love creates a bonding which bring a sense of security in being a part of a family. The chorus sung joyfully in churches, "I’m so glad I’m part of the family of God, born of His spirit, cleansed by His blood," very simply states the relationship created in the coming of the Christ child.
Christmas may be peace, joy, and loving. It may be friends, family, and sharing. It may have different meanings for each of us; however, it is the emotions Christmas brings which cause us to want to keep Christmas in our hearts throughout the year. Christmas need not be just one day.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I wish I could live my life over again. My brother and I never got along, and we haven’t spoken to each other in 30 years. Now he has died, and I realize how sad it is that we never forgave each other. Please warn people about the danger of letting anger control us.
Thank you for your letter. I suspect it will touch the hearts of many people who have been alienated from someone in their family.
The Bible underlines what we know anyway from our experience: Life is uncertain, and we can never count on even one more day in which to make things right.
This is true in our relationships — and perhaps there is someone reading this who needs to go immediately and write a letter or make a call seeking forgiveness or giving forgiveness — to someone who has been at odds with him. The Bible says, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).
But this is also true of our relationship with God. We are separated from Him because of sin, and we need His forgiveness. It is easy to delay turning to Christ —but some day it will be too late. Give your life to Him now.
—Reprinted from The Commercial Appeal, August 2, 1996
Grief Helps. We are sending copies of After the ...... Coping with the Holidays and other grief helps to members of families we have served since last Christmas. Please tell us if you know of anyone else who you think might benefit from these materials.
Magnolia Health Services and Hospice continues to conduct free education and support group meetings on the third Tuesday of every month, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., at the Baptist Memorial Hospital North Mississippi in the Magnolia Auditorium. More information can be obtained by contacting the Hospice office at Magnolia Health Services and Hospice (234-8553).
For information about hospice care, call Magnolia Health Service and Hospice (234-8553).
Calendars—inspirational and stick-on—are available at the funeral home. Just ask.
We dedicate this issue of Seasons to those who died and whose families we served from August 10, 1996, through October 29, 1996.
Mr. Dillard Gene Carter 8/10/96
Mr. Kenneth Harry King 8/16/96
Mrs. Mildred Burns Ellis 8/17/96
Mrs. Wilma Smith Race 8/20/96
Mrs. Rosie Tidwell Maples 8/25/96
Mr. Benjamin Leroy Hudgins 8/27/96
Mr. Cleatus Harwell 8/29/96
Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Young 8/30/96
Mrs. Ilene Swaim White 9/3/96
Mrs. Mary Frances Woodburn 9/7/96
Mrs. Lula Bowles Davis 9/8/96
Mrs. Dorothy L. Oliphant 9/11/96
Mr. John Henry James 9/12/96
Mrs. Gladys Tatum Hollowell 9/14/96
Mr. Andrew Eliard Inman 9/16/96
Mr. Fredrick Eugene Kesler, Jr. 9/16/96
Mr. Sherrill Sherman Lewis 9/17/96
Mr. Varley Thurston Ledbetter 9/20/96
Mrs. Marie Poole Toner 9/20/96
Mrs. Helen Davis Trott 9/21/96
Mrs. Ophelia Lancaster Dalton 9/23/96
Mr. Robert Winey Work 9/28/96
Mr. Chandrasekhar S. Iyer 9/28/96
Mr. Thomas H. "Bill" Hudson 9/30/96
Mr. Charles Howard Holcomb 10/3/96
Mrs. Gladys Watson Mills 10/5/96
Mrs. Donna Oakes Calder 10/5/96
Mrs. Jessie Patterson Keel 10/8/96
Mr. John "J.V." James 10/10/96
Mrs. Barbara Thweatt Hinton 10/11/96
Mr. Harold W. Chandler 10/11/96
Mrs. Dora West Holder 10/11/96
Mrs. Effie Franklin 10/14/96
Mr. Nathan Kenny Kenton 10/17/96
Mr. Walter Wilson Murphey 10/24/96
Mrs. Grace Clark Hill 10/24/96
Mr. Van P. East 10/25/96
Mrs. Emmie Bagwell Ivy 10/27/96
Mrs. Lillian Harwell Agnew 10/27/96
Miss Annie Pearle Galloway 10/27/96
Mrs. Janie Marie Watts 10/28/96
Mrs. Kathy Ellis Moses 10/29/96
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Joy... Love.. . Hope... Peace...
The words of the holiday season are beautiful. As we think of them, we think of our loved ones, friends, and all those we touch as we live and work in this community. We wish for you healing from sorrow and joy, love, hope, and peace during the holiday season and in the new year.
The Staff of Waller Funeral Home:
Patsy and Don Waller, Owners
Bob Rosson, Funeral Director, and
Beth Waller Rosson, Managers
Bobby Phelps, Funeral Director and Insurance Agent
Trish Cousley, Insurance Office Manager and Agent
John Tatum, Intern