It really is just like any other job. Besides the caskets outside my office door, the smell of embalming fluids filling the air, and the dozens of flower bouquets. Working in a funeral home is not dark, sad, or creepy. In fact, this is probably one of the best and most pleasant places I have been to and here’s why.
You have to face it at some point, and for most people they avoid it until they find themselves six feet under. Previously before I worked at a funeral home, I was working as an office assistant at a senior living facility where deaths occurred regularly. I thought I had faced reality at this point and I knew what death really was. No, I was wrong. It’s not until you work with death on a daily basis, you really learn what death is and how it works. The difference is, hospital workers and EMTs get some relief in knowing some people make it out alive. While for me, I am faced with the cold hard truth that absolutely nobody makes it out alive.
I was never truly an atheist, but I was never really all that religious either.
I was born Catholic, was baptized as a baby, and attended Catholic school for a few years. By the time my parents divorced and put us into public schools, church creeped its way out of my life. I spoke to God a few times, but not nearly as much as I probably should have during middle school and high school. I was a bit lost about if religion was real and worth my time.
My best advice to anyone who feels this way is to work at a funeral home.
God becomes a part of you and your life if you want Him to or not. It just happens. I did not even notice until one day I found myself talking to God about my day.
I live in southern Alabama. I’m always asked about what church I attend. I do not attend church. I do hear priest, pastors, and ministers preaching God’s word sometimes 12 times a week. On top of that, I learned that God does not speak to me as personally as he does when I am doing what I love, like fishing, or reading. If you are looking to strengthen your relationship with the Lord, the funeral business will guide you through that, and I believe it is also one of the best things about my job. God knows we are helping pass people along to Him and I think His relationship with all of us is an unbreakable bond.
I was cursed and blessed with the gift of empathy. I have always been this way. I have always cringed and turned away from fights on television.
From when I was young, I cried when I saw another person crying. In high school, I walked as far away from fights as possible while most of my peers crowded the scene to watch. It made me sick. I could feel the punches, I could feel the aching hearts, and the depth of sadness creeping into souls. I immersed my own self into others to feel their feelings.
When you work at a funeral home, this gift can hurt you deeply. I remember one funeral in particular: It was a two-year-old who had drowned. Now, how the day of the funeral goes, is that we allow the family to come spend time with their loved one an hour before the services start. I will never in my life forget the pain of this little boy’s mother.
I was about 50 feet away when I heard her cry out after seeing her baby boy laid up in a casket. I cringed. Even as I sit here writing this months later, my heart is heavy for them. I cried for the mother and her family. I have never met her, I have never even seen her again, but that her cries cut deep. I do not have children of my own, but after working here and seeing the pain and love others project onto their children, I am already so in love with my future kids. I am able to see how much my own mother and father love me. Although they rarely will show that or say it, I feel the love of a parent. It is an undefinable love — one that I already have acquired for my own children.
Live each day as your last.
This is important and I know it is overused and preached in today’s world, but really think about this. Let me remind you of the first point I made: Reality. We have had more people under the age of 40 die this year alone than ever before. Whether it is from car accidents to health issues to drugs and addiction, young people are dying at a high rate.
People preach each other to eat healthier, drive more carefully, hit the gym, or don’t do any of that. I say, instead, live. Live your life. Stop saying tomorrow, because tomorrow may not be there.
You are going to die. You will not avoid that. I will say it again: You will die. Accept it. Now that you have accepted it, do not let that control you. Being cautious and careful will not give you a fulfilled life. Get your heart broken, get married, get divorced, have a child, or don’t have a child. Move to Chile, buy a tent and live in it. Make plans, set goals, chase them with all you have. Do not settle for “just getting by.” Build a legacy. Be bold. Stop taking selfies and start taking adventures. Fill your life with more “oops!” than “what ifs”.
I love my job.
I am lucky to have landed an amazing job with an amazing company. Everyone comes to work ready every day. We love customizing your personality and lifestyle into your funeral. My best advice is do not be typical. Stand out. Find faith in God. Empathize with those around you. Grow. Allow yourself to grow. Put yourselves in the heart of those in need and allow God to step in. Oh, and since you were going to ask anyway, yes, I do see dead bodies all the time, and no, it does not creep me out.