Wood Shavings and Coffin Handles

There is an area downstairs of the funeral home that looks like my daddy’s work shed when I was a little girl. Tools are scattered everywhere and wood shavings cover the floor. I wander here sometimes when the day is tough or to even participate in the wood work myself. The area is what we call ‘The Trim Room.’

No, not the hair cut kind of trim.

At a funeral arrangement with a family, the funeral director presents a folder with many different coffin choices. Some have silver handles with a crucifix, others are more basic with just a name plate. The possibilities are endless really, and we create it for you, by hand. The coffins arrive to the funeral home from the manufacturer as a shell. It is our job to secure the handles, crucifixes and name plates, and this all happens in the Trim Room. Shelves from floor to ceiling are stocked with metal and plastic crosses, crucifixes and other decorative pieces.

Radio blaring and whistling while we work, we hammer, drill and measure all add ons perfectly for you with love, care and precision.

Some days can be challenging. Burying people for a job can be emotionally draining and you can find yourself teary without reason or warning. In these unsuspected moments, I find myself venturing down to the trim room and sit, inhaling the woody scent that takes me back to the farm where I grew up.  I remember watching him build things there, hammering away, carving and measuring, wood shavings drifting to the dirt ground as he turned wood into tools he used on the property.

Now it was me, hammering nails into wood.

I take a coffin handle in my hand and drill the piece securely onto the side of the coffin, my shiny nails are shiny against the pine.

The coffins are so beautiful. And when I watch the pall bearers carry them down the aisle of a church or chapel, my heart swells. They have no idea the little blonde girl in her suit and tie is the reason they have handles to hold onto as they carry their loved one away onto their next journey.



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