Sad Woman in City


Written by Sharon Verbeten


As summer winds down and school begins, we all seem to get a bit more pensive. At least I do.


My daughter starts kindergarten in two weeks, and life will never be the same. It might, however, just get better.


My feelings these days remind me of the title of one of my favorite Joyce Carol Oates’ short stories — Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?


As we look forward to autumn, school starting, and the other changes brought about by the seasons, I’m sure we all feel a little uncertain. And as we look toward the future, it is only natural that we, in turn, look back. That’s a good lesson to remember in this profession.


After all, what are funerals and memorials — at their core — other than a looking back fondly and an ushering in of a new “normal?”


At many funerals, families remember where they have been — maybe the memory of attending baseball games with their late father. But they also consider — many with grief and/or anger depending on their stage of grief — where they will go next, without their loved one. Can they go on? How will they go on? Those questions soon turn to the statement, “We will go on.”


Take some time this next week to consider that prophetic short story title — Where are You Going, Where Have You Been? — and understand how it fits into your life and your business. Just by positing that question, you may find some answers you never knew you had.


Not familiar with Oates’ famous, yet dark, story? Read it online at


Freelance writer/editor Sharon Verbeten has written about the funeral profession — in trade journals and online — for more than 20 years. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


Like us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on funeral news and trends!