Last year as my father-in-law was in hospice, my partner and I were told that we had to make arrangements for his burial. We had NO idea what that entailed. We knew he wanted to be cremated and to have some of his ashes put into the church where his wife was, but that was about all. The thought of this was overwhelming, especially since he had such a short time to live.
We were given a piece of paper with different funeral homes on it. More overwhelming feelings. Until we saw Colma Cremation and Funeral Services. I called Joe Stinson and immediately felt a sense of calm come over me. He was so down to earth, honest, caring and knowledgeable. He talked to me about the physiological changes that happen during these times and that helped me be a much better partner to Joyce when she got confused, lost her train of thought or felt numb. Joe took the time to explain that to me. I can't tell you how much time he spent talking and invited me to call him anytime I had a question.
Before Bill transitioned, Joyce and I went into Joe's office and met in person. It's a small place, looking very different from the castle-like funeral homes on the same street. He treated us as if we were dear friends. He explained the process (which we both forgot) and kept helping us understand what needed to happen.
He told us he was from Pennsylvania and that he and his family had moved to California because of the Grateful Dead. Boy, were the 3 of us on the same page! He's a great storyteller and began telling us about the annual Easter party that he hosts. He talked about all the interesting people that come, said everyone is friendly, that the music is superb (Grateful Dead, of course) and that we were invited! Seemed oddly weird, and perfectly synchronistic, that we were making arrangements to cremate Bill and to be invited to join in a joyous occasion at the same time.
Joe looked at our business cards and said, "I want to talk with both of you about becoming funeral directors. Now isn't the time and we will know when that time comes." I remember looking at Joyce and saying, "I think this is one of the blessings of your father's death."
There was something about this invitation that felt right in my bones, even if I couldn't explain it for the life of me. I had never thought about doing anything like this. But I knew that I could help someone else navigate the same territory that we were going through and that I could save them a lot of stress and help them in this process.
A year has passed, Joe, Chris (his wife), Joyce and I are now co-creating our next steps. We officially became Arrangement Counselors with Colma Cremation, we are talking about offering talks about death, the process, the aftermath, the preparation for and whatever else comes into the space. I am totally excited about what is unfolding.
And you know I'll keep you in the loop!