By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – Death makes most people uncomfortable, but it’s a part of Sammy Reed’s daily life – a calling that he says allows him to be there for people at one of their greatest times of need.
Reed said the most fulfilling part of his job as Lee County’s deputy coroner and funeral director for Lee Memorial Funeral Home is knowing he gets to give a family a last chance to see their loved ones.
“I enjoy the science of embalming because it’s just something that everybody can’t do and it’s something that I take great pride in,” he said. “When families are with their loved ones at their point of death, they’re at their worst. The deceased is going to look a lot different when we get through with our work. People have told me, ‘Gosh, I never thought they could look that good after I’ve seen them suffering in the hospital,’ or after an accident. That’s rewarding to me.”
Before he went to mortuary school, Reed’s father – who was a funeral director at McGrath-Rasberry Funeral Home – said he should do something else because the funeral business means no weekends, vacations or sleep.
“He said you’re up all night and every time you have something planned, you’re going to get busy,” Reed recalled. “It does get like that but I said that’s what I wanted to do.”
Both of his jobs keep him on call every day. “I tell people I can’t wake up to an alarm but if the phone rings I’m up and at it,” he said.
He and his staff see their job as one of compassion and doing anything and everything they can do for a grieving family.
“To know how someone feels that has lost a parent, I don’t know because I have mine,” he said. “To know how it feels to lose a spouse, I don’t know, or to lose a child. And I don’t talk – a lot of time you can be quiet and let them speak and do what it takes to comfort them.”
He said one of those ways is prayer. “Prayer is a big part of my life and I pray for all the folks that come through here, that the Lord will hold them up and get them through this part of their life.”
Reed said being a funeral director and comforting people when their loved ones die – a time of chaos for most people – is his spiritual calling.
“I don’t know what it is that keeps me calm,” he said. “It’s a job and everybody knows their job. This is what mine is. I get up every morning and go to bed thinking about it. More than anything I feel like I was called into this so the Lord is going to give me the comfort and the ability to do it. We’re all put here for a purpose and this is mine.”