OPINION: How being friends with funeral directors has changed my perspective on death

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Mariah Koeneke
CONTRIBUTOR

Being exposed to the funeral directing industry can have a positive effect on your perspective on death. Graphic by Mariah Koeneke.

Over the course of our lives, we all experience death in one form or another. It can be the death of a beloved animal, family member, friend, etc. We, as humans and emotional individuals, process death and grieve differently.

In the earlier years of my life, I don’t remember being overly emotional, but I still cried and grieved as everyone should. Crying, depression and all of the other main components of losing someone or something went into my grieving style.

However, in middle school, I became best friends with a girl whose father was a funeral director/mortician. They owned a mortuary in town, and everyone knew them.

Being around her and her family opened me up to a world I hadn’t previously considered ever in my life.

Then, in college I became close friends with a woman, Caroline, who is only six years older than me who is a licensed funeral director/embalmer. Me, being the weirdo into true crime, serial killers and unsolved mysteries, constantly asked her questions about her job and things she’s done and been exposed to.

I could sit for hours and listen to her talk about death, which should be alarming in some sense, but isn’t to me in the slightest.

We openly talk about death, dead bodies, serial killers, homicide victims and more; some topics that I know my other friends are not so down with talking about.

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, the funeral directors in my life have become busier than ever. Both constantly warn loved ones of the very real danger that is surrounding the world. My best friend’s father holds funerals weekly, most of which are for victims of the Coronavirus.

Caroline embalms victims daily and spends nine hours every Saturday embalming and working funerals for the same reason.

Before fully understanding exactly what they do for a living, I thought death was hard, terrifying and daunting. I was wrong.

Death is easier than I thought.

It is simple, short and a part of life. Being in the presence of those who deal with death almost daily has been eye opening to say the least.

Not only do they have the sincerity to understand exactly what grieving people are going through, they also take the time to make sure everything is perfect for the funeral services and then the burials.

“Being in the funeral industry is truly my life’s calling and passion. I love that I can help the family through the process of grieving and celebrating their loved one’s life,” Caroline said. “Even during the busiest of times, I take time to remember that this person mattered and give them the dignity and care they deserve after they pass away.”

It isn’t the prettiest job in the world, but it helps more people that you could ever realize, and in so many ways.

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