Guest Post - The Calling & Ageism

    Here's a story from a short current undertaker, on why she joined the industry.  It is a good look at the type of people in the industry and the passion of many of those people.  Many refer to joining the industry as a 'calling'.

    This is also a good example of ageism in the industry.  How younger undertakers are perceived by others.  I certainly experienced things similar to this, and heard how others were looked down on or ignored due to being "too young".

    Anyway, it is a good and light read for a friday.

So I've been invited to write a piece for this blog. I thought to myself what could I possibly write about the funeral industry that hasn't already been said, what makes me different? That's when it dawned on me. I'll write about my experience as a young person in the funeral industry. At the tender age of 20 I can fairly say that I am very much a child in the eyes of my colleagues, and especially to those of the deceased whom I delicately care for.  I can understand how one would assume that I would not know much about my line of work, or even to think that I were new to the concept of death. This however is not the case, for at that tender age of 20 I have already had 4 years of experience in this colourful line of work.

I am forever met with the question 'Are your parents Funeral Directors?' which is often followed by an overwhelming feeling of disbelief as I explain that at 16 I engaged the help of my high school careers adviser to help me learn about my dream job, to be a mortician. I can confidently say that she had never been asked about this particular line of work, and i'm sure the thought crossed her mind to send me to the looney bin. However she did not judge and worked very hard with me to fill my thirst for knowledge about the work of a mortician. Together we learnt what embalming was, along with a number of roles that exist within the funeral industry. I must admit it did get a giggle out of me when the teachers would go around the class and ask the students what they wanted to do when they left high school. The replies would come back 'A teacher, a nurse, study at university' and then the teacher would get to me. 'I want to be an embalmer when I finish school'.

Flashing forward 4 years to where I am now, I would not have dreamed that I'd have as much experience as I do. I've worked in all of the roles available in the funeral home from doing admin, transferring deceased loved ones into our care, meeting with a families to arrange the funeral details, to washing, dressing and preparing the deceased, driving mourning cars and staffing and conducting funerals. I am passionate and respectful in the work I do, and yet people cannot see past my age. I do understand why however, and realise that patience is a virtue. After all, since a young age our culture has taught us to respect our elders. So as I carry on dutifully doing my work and learning more every day I am quietly grateful for the experience I have gained and the skills I have learnt. I very much see my work as a career and know that with time and persisance in building a reputation of dignity and skill I will be one day seen as a the talented Funeral Director and Mortician that I am.

-- Written by an anonymous undertaker, published here with permission.

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