Twelve Days Straight: Burdens of Funeral Work
Today’s guest post is written by Katharine Gates:
It’s my 12th day in a row here at the funeral home.
Another day in a dark place surrounded by suits and the vacant stares of burnt out morticians.
We serve our families to the best of our ability. Always saying yes we can do that for you, always standing still with slow movements that ooze professional demeanor.
The sensitivity robot, always in control, ready to catch the falling emotions of those around us. Walking out of this building at the end of the day is like having to reintegrate into a normal society where people laugh and live. You have to remind yourself that it’s okay to smile and joke on this side of the mortuary walls.
We get so wrapped up in our families, in death and sadness that it’s a battle to remind yourself that you aren’t the one that is suffering a loss.
Yet we carry it, it’s still our burden even if it isn’t our loved one. We lose sleep over the details, we wonder if we’ve said all the right things, given enough attention to everyone in need of it. It’s an honor but a heavy burden. It’s a struggle to put it down and walk away at night some of the time.
The irony is that no matter how tired you get, how mentally unstable you feel at times, you truly want to continue this work. It’s who you are. It almost feels like the universe chose you to play this special role in people’s lives. Not everyone can do it but someone has to and you constantly remind yourself that person is you.
It’s an honor to care for these people, to carry their secrets, to love their families through the storm. It’s an honor to be one of the last people on this earth to get to know them and then put them to rest for the last time. It truly is a calling, but a calling that can take quite the toll on your personal life and mental stability.
Thank goodness for beautiful distractions, love and laughter to get us through the dark days that can quickly turn into dark nights.
Katharine Gates is a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in Hot Springs, Arkansas. She graduated from the Mortuary Science Program in Mesa, AZ in 2012. When she isn’t planning funerals and caring for the deceased she’s usually spending time with her fiancée and love of her life doing something active outdoors.