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Sunday Focus: Community more than clock ticks


The normal course of life ends in death, and at the close of every day, someone has died in Adams County — maybe just one, but one.

Mississippi Department of Health records show each day sees, on average, 1.28 deaths in Adams County.

And while, like every day, every life has to come to an end, not every ending has to be sad, West Gate Funeral Home Director James West said. West got his start in funeral work early on when his father operated a funeral home, and he revived the shuttered business last year.

Being the person who helps a family through a transitional period after a loss provides an opportunity to help families see the sunset of a person’s life is a time to celebrate the days they shared with the deceased, he said.

“Funerals are not for the deceased,” West said. “They are for the ones who remain and are part of the healing process. We consider it an honor, because our goal is to try to make it memorable and a celebration of life.

“Death has all the ingredients to be sad, to be depressing, and our job as funeral directors is to make sure their memories — even from the last time you see a person — are nice ones.”

Like births, working with death often binds those connected to it with the community.

“When a family member says, ‘That was nice,’ it is rewarding to know that you helped them through the beginning and the end, and they know in a way they are part of our family now,” West said. “With handling a funeral, it is more than just you handling a funeral.”

When a funeral is over, the lives of those who remain go on, the close of one chapter is the beginning of another.

And like those lives starting over, the end of one day — 24 hours — marks another beginning, a new cycle of birth and death and all the living in between.

The Natchez Democrat’s 2014 Profile theme is Around the Clock. We chose to consider and report on the many interesting things that occur in our community on a given day. After examining our community in 24, 1-hour segments, we found many fascinating people, doing interesting things all across the region. The special section was included as part of the Sunday newspaper.