On average, Kenneth Dupree of Dupree Funeral Home at 28th and Diamond streets sees one to two victims of gun violence a year. Bruce Talbert says Talbert Funeral Parlor at 22nd near Lehigh has received 10 so far.
The services for the victims that both men preside over have all been young people, usually in their early 20s. Talbert says he’s not surprised when gunshot victims come through the door, but it doesn’t get any easier.
“It’s not an everyday occurrence, but it’s not something that alarms us when it happens,” the Chester native said. “When I was growing up, you handled things with your hands. [Young people now] handle things with guns, so it’s not something that catches you off guard to get a call from a family that someone has passed from a shooting incident.”
With anyone who has passed — but specifically with those of gun violence — the family conferences that follow with funeral directors can be highly emotional. It’s during these conferences that both the director and the family have a chance to meet and discuss not only what arrangements they would like for the departed, but also speak about who the person was they just lost. Without any warnings and without any goodbyes, a person is instantly taken away with the firing of a gun. It is a traumatic experience.
“You hear parents say a lot that they don’t expect to bury their child,” Talbert said. “It’s supposed to be the other way around.”
When someone dies of natural causes, it’s typically the spouse or grown children attending the family conference. But when someone is fatally shot, it’s often the parents who show up.
Dominique “Peak” Johnson is a North Philadelphia journalist. He is one of the founding editors and writers of the North Philly Metropolis, blogger for The Huffington Post and contributing writer to numerous online publications. Click here to learn more about Peak.