A victim confronted

I’m sure for many people the concept of a day in a mortuary would be a highly confronting situation, for me however this is my safe place, my place of quiet solitude where I adopt the peace of those I care for allowing me to be most at one with my thoughts.

My days here have seen me take care of people of different nationalities, varying ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions etc. I have been faced with circumstances of both a victim and perpetrator in the mortuary at the same time and still all I see is the purity of their soul, much like that of a birth.

When a baby is born we have a unified hope, that this person will be a good person, will go on to do good things and make beautiful changes to the world. Regardless of the lives that have been lived, when a person is entrusted to me for their care I see only that purity, I know little of their lives and I have that unified hope that they have been loved, they have done good things and they have made the world a more beautiful place. There is something very cleansing about death that re-affirms to me that we are all one.

Many years ago, when working as a mortician in a large commercial funeral home, transfers of the deceased would come in daily by staff and government contractors, the environment was fast paced and busy which found us often working to limited timeframes and meeting expectations of families, management and colleagues.

This particular day I was having a morning in the mortuary like many before, I busied myself cleaning and sorting instruments getting ready for a busy day taking care of those entrusted to me. I opened the cool room and brought someone through into the mortuary for their preparation. A blue bag before me, I move forward and open the zipper, what came next was a complete shock and brought me to my knees.

This was someone I knew, a person who had completely broken me as a small child, crushing my spirit, shattering my physical body and changing the person I would have been, my legs went weak and I felt instantly overcome, panic set in and even though I knew I was not in any danger I still felt so overpowered, just as I had as a little girl.

Stepping out of the mortuary I sought comfort in my workmates, who were oblivious to the situation I was facing. Anyone that has dealt with childhood trauma and the viciousness of flash backs and post-traumatic stress knows the utter feeling of helplessness and debilitation it causes.

This particular experience was a trigger that caused intense emotional and physical reactions in my body. In a practical sense, as a mortician it was my responsibility and role to take care of people when they came in, in this case I stepped aside.

My trauma as a child was long lived and felt as though I was trapped in a cage of fear, pain, and anger with no end in sight.

I felt that either no one could see the huge changes in me or even worse, no one cared.

I believe in fate, I believe that everything has a purpose and everything happens for a reason, but for a very long time my childhood made me into a very hateful person, a person that was left asking questions and a person that resented the world.

In order to continue to live, and to go on in any meaningful way I attended many years of therapy. It didn’t help, I felt my situation couldn’t be ‘cured’ by someone else, my burdens were internal, and this was something I needed to face myself.

It was coming to this conclusion and making a decision that came from within that saw me do the one thing that set me free, forgive.

I forgave him for hurting me, coming to an understanding that his actions came from a place he couldn’t control, what had he gone through to get to the point of taking it out on someone so small, so innocent and so pure. I forgave those around me for not noticing the signs and most of all I forgave myself, I had no control over what had happened to me as a child, I knew no better and I finally accepted that my past was exactly that, I had left it behind and these experiences, as awful as they were had made me into the person I am today.

In being faced with my demons, laid bare in front of me, I was in a state of shock and despair, In any other circumstance I would feel for the families of the person, but in this instance I was in mourning for myself, never having the chance to confront him and ask the questions of ‘why’ or tell him to his face that I forgive him for his actions towards me.