Mortician. Undertaker. Funeral Director. Embalmer. Whatever we call ourselves, those who don’t work in the funeral profession, by nature, expel at least a small shudder when they hear those words. As you can imagine, working as a funeral director can create an awkward first encounter when meeting someone outside of the funeral profession for the first time.
No matter what, as adults getting acquainted with one another, the inevitable question comes up, “So, what do you do for a living?” After a brief pause, I answer. Then we have the awkward silence while the other party tries to think of how to respond. There is generally a sense that they feel they need to reassure me that it’s ok. Then I am faced with questions and comments; some entertaining and some sad. “Why would you choose THAT to do for a living?”, “That must be a hard job, how do you do it?”, “Do they sit up?”, “What’s the strangest thing you have encountered?”, “You don’t look like a funeral director.”, and of course, the old stand by, “Well, somebody has to do it”.
The fact that I CHOSE this career baffles almost everyone I meet. Even my own family was baffled when I divulged my chosen career path. Things get even more interesting when getting to know me and people find out my husband is “one of them” as well. “Two of you? That must an interesting household!” Recently my husband was at the bank depositing a check for his business (he picks up deceased people and delivers them to funeral homes, and often he will also perform embalming if asked. A funeral home subcontractor if you will) and the teller asked, “What kind of business is this?” My husband of course was simply delighted to be asked. So he explains and the very next thing said by the young female teller was “Tell us a funny story!”, and he happily obliged. The girls at the bank got a good laugh and he went on with his day.
Working with and around death comes naturally to me and I am proud that I am a part of something so important. But why is it that our society approaches the subject of death with such fear and curiosity? I mean let’s be clear. It’s the one thing that we all have in common. We will all meet our end. At some point in pre-history, people decided that handling their own deceased loved one was too difficult, and there was a person in the community that took it upon themselves to help. This has continued throughout all of history and all cultures. There are people like me who will continue to help those coping with loss and to assist the survivors in putting their loved one to rest. Then I will go home each day to my family and live my surprisingly normal life.
My goal in future articles will be to answer questions as they come and hope that I can provide a small sense of assuredness that death is ok. We can call it: Ask A Funeral Director!
So what are some questions you have?
What have you been dying to know about the funeral profession? (See what I did there?)
Holly was born and raised in a rural area near Hamilton, Ohio. She has lived in Columbus since 2007. Holly attended the University of Cincinnati and earned her degree in Mortuary Science from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. She joined the Schoedinger team in 2010 as a licensed funeral director. She is excited to lend her personal experiences and insight to the blog!