A Quick + Profound Morgue Story

I met Derek Weaver at a workshop I delivered called “How Many Mondays Do You Have Left,” and we chatted afterwards about how he spent the first part of his career working for the largest funeral service provider in the world. (As a death enthusiast that absolutely caught my attention.) Derek prepared thousands of dead bodies from mortuaries across Los Angeles to be sent to funeral homes for services and visitations. For someone who specialized in traumatic reconstruction (think: train wrecks, helicopter accidents, suicides, homicides—tough, visual scenes to handle), he told the story of something unexpectedly simple that gripped him.

“I’ve had many, many, many, many, many people come across my table, and sometimes things just hit you when they hit you, right? Whatever it was that day, as I was preparing someone, something struck me as I was removing his shoes. I thought to myself, when this guy put his shoes on this morning, he had no idea that a mortician would be taking them off at the end of the day. And that started me thinking, this could happen to me. And although I was very much aware of my own mortality, especially from working in that space for such a long time, it’s something that we push back, right? It struck me that he had no idea that I would be doing this. It seems like such an obvious observation to make, but it was like a bolt of lightning went through me. And I try to keep myself centered when I put my own shoes on now. I try to remember to just try to make the best of what I can, to not sweat the small stuff. I want to look around and enjoy the things that I have.”

Shoes on the Morgue TableDoes hearing Derek’s shoe story make you think twice about the kind of shoes you’re wearing today fragility of your life? Does it put your “small stuff” in perspective—whether you’ve been sweating or forgetting the trivial things?

We all know we’re headed for the morgue, but we’re also assuming it’s not today. It probably won’t be today . . . but the guy who ended up on Derek’s table all those years back probably didn’t think it was his last day, either.

I share this uncomfortable story to help us wake up to the lives WE GET TO BE LIVING right now. We’re here. We’re breathing. Let’s get up, get out, get on with our dreams and hopes and goals. Let’s lace up those shoes, shall we?

Jodi Wellman

P.S.: I put a bunch of stuff up on Instagram, so perhaps we should connect there?

P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!


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