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Ellen Weaver retires from Coleman Funeral Home – kind of

Special to The EAGLE

When Ellen Weaver was preparing to become a funeral director, her pastor encouraged her that it was a special ministry.

She wavered: Could she really see herself as a funeral director? Yet 13 years later, it’s a role she embraces wholeheartedly.

“I have come to believe that what we do really is a ministry,” Weaver said.

“We’ve all lost somebody close to us,” she said. “And we’ve all said to somebody who’s grieving, ‘Is there anything I can do?’

“We mean that from the heart, but most of the time there isn’t really anything we can do. In this job, though, I can do something.”

A satisfying role

The chance to serve grieving families in the days after a loss has proven to be a rewarding role for Weaver. She helps families find the right way to honor their loved one, and to bring friends and family together to remember and be encouraged.

“So many times, in the wake of death, families just feel lost,” she said. “I let them know: ‘It’s OK. You’re not supposed to know how to do this. This is how I can help.’”

For Weaver, being able to support people through their loss has brought deep personal satisfaction.

“You never know when you can touch somebody in a way that comforts them or gives them some hope,” she said. “Losing a child, losing a loved one to suicide — those are hard. Those are really hard. I have wept with people. I’ve held them when they’ve cried. This is a place where we deal with people from the heart.”

Weaver, a native of Toccopola, has spent most of her working years helping people get through crisis points in their lives.

Prior to joining Coleman Funeral Home, she spent nearly 30 years helping the unemployed as part of the Mississippi Employment Security Commission. She retired from the MESC as a manager in 2002, but still wanted to work.

As a cousin of the Coleman family, she was asked to join Coleman Funeral Home when it opened in 2003. Co-owner Glenn Coleman quickly came to rely upon Weaver.

“She has often been my counsel through this long journey we’ve been on together,” Coleman said. “Ellen has been such a valuable part of the service we provide to families here. She’s someone who genuinely cares and has a motherly instinct that serves her well in this field.”

Leaving on a high note

Despite her official retirement date of May 1, Weaver is shifting to a two-days-a-week schedule. She will continue to work Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Weaver’s ambitions for retirement include working in her yard, doing needlework and painting, learning to quilt and doing some traveling. She likes to always have a project going and is excited about having more time to pursue new ideas.

“I’ve been pushing Pinterest aside for two years,” she said of the online pinboard. “I would not allow myself to look at it. Now, I’m going to try all sorts of things.”