The Role of a Funeral Director in the Midst of Tragedy

Our nation was rocked on Tuesday by the tragedy in Uvalde. I can’t begin to describe my grief knowing so many lives were lost—beloved children and teachers who went to school that day eagerly anticipating field day activities as part of the end of school year ritual. As a new parent, I jumped ahead as I thought about one day dropping our son off at school just as they did.

I thought of our friends at Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home in Uvalde and owner, LeRoy Briones. His team would be called on to bring comfort, provide services, and remain strong for families through the coming days. I remembered our training as funeral directors, a side of our profession that the general public never sees.

Funeral directors are sometimes perceived as stoic, but in fact it is stillness and balance that we offer you. Even though we hurt with you, we focus on your decisions that must be made. Our profession prepares us to remain calm and helpful for you each step of the way.

Years of study, continuing education, and professional development are part of our careers. At state or national funeral director association conferences, be assured that we invest time and resources to stay abreast of highest and best practices in our profession. When parents had to enter that elementary school and confirm their child by identifying shirts and shoes they wore that morning, it is unthinkable, but real.

When you entrust your loved ones into our care, our job is to create a reassuring environment for you to know that they are being given our love and tender care in your behalf as we prepare for services you want to remember them. Faith in everlasting life reassures as we contemplate precious lives lost. We pray for a better future in Uvalde, in Texas, and in our country. We feel your grief and send our love to Uvalde.

This is the most current list of those whose lives were lost in the tragedy:

Irma Garcia, teacher

Eva Mireles, teacher

Layla Salazar, 10

Nevaeh Bravo, 10

Jacklyn Cazares, 9

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Jose Flores, 10

Ellie Garcia, 9

Uziyah Garcia, 10

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Xavier Lopez, 10

Jayce Luevanos, 10

Tess Mata, 10

Miranda Mathis, 11

Alithia Ramirez, 10

Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10

Maite Rodriguez, 10

Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10

Layla Salazar, 10

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 11

Eliahana “Elijah” Cruz Torres, 10

Rojelio Torres, 10

They will be remembered. May the Lord grant peace and healing to all the families, the people of Uvalde, the state of Texas, and our nation. We are all impacted by this event and we pray for an ending to these senseless tragedies in our country. Amen.

For many across the Brazos Valley this weekend, area seniors participated in commencement ceremonies that mark 12+ years of study in Brazos Valley schools. Over 950 seniors crossed the stage of College Station High School. Over at Bryan Collegiate, 71 students celebrated the attainment of 3,400 college credit hours, according to The Eagle’s recitation of the weekend’s facts. These 71 students not only earned 200 college acceptances, most importantly, they contributed 10,000 hours of community service.

After high school, a teenager has a large number of choices to make about their paths ahead.

For some decisions had been made years ago, by parents who planned and saved for this day. The cost of tuition at Blinn and Texas A&M, at Sam Houston and at Prairie View, all of which are within daily driving distance—varies. Often students have to take out massive loans and enter into financial debt that will follow them for 15-20 years beyond college graduation.

For that reason college is not always the first answer to a post-high school path. Trade schools are an excellent option to a guaranteed job beyond high school. Military service is another key opportunity to grow, mature, serve your country, and earn funds toward post-service education. Many choose to delay college for very good reasons. Other students have already held a job for 20-40 hours a week while completing high school for several years.

In some cases, they have been primary income sources for younger siblings to be able to grow up together. Not all families have two parents who work. Not all families have jobs that can afford a safe, warm place to live. Our local and area schools go far to try and help raise our young people and provide extras when they are not readily available, and we appreciate every action taken, from former Principal Chrissy Hester’s “closet” for students who outgrow clothes faster than money is available to replace them. Bryan schools have resources and community and church groups who adopt classes and school campuses, raising new blue jeans, underwear, and socks for children’s back to school days.

Holiday coat drives, back-to-school bus stuffing, and food pantry donations regularly meet needs and fill gaps that exist regularly. Once a child reaches high school graduation, though, all the memories of tough times growing up seem to fade as they are replaced by the hopes of realizing the dreams they have made ahead for them.

As those preparing for celebration learned of the tragedy in Uvalde, there is every reason to expect that some will choose to enter the medical profession, some might become teachers, others will enter law enforcement, or even consider becoming a funeral director. Others might enter a public service career, with the hopes of filling the gaps of missing future committed public servants that the children in Uvalde and their teachers no longer have the capacity to become.

As long as we don’t forget the names of those who were lost this week, they remain alive in our hearts and minds forever. Let us always hold these children and educators close in our hearts as our country prepares to remember on Monday those brave men and women who gave their lives in service to our country. God bless the United States.

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