Updated: Aug 24
Over the years as a mortician there have been many times my job has hit me far too close to home. I have prepared my long-time family friends, my very best friends, my uncles and even my grandparents. I have spent many hours in devastated solitude with my tears dampening the cheeks of my loved ones as I held them and prepared them for the last time. Out of the abundance of tragedy and heartache I have bare witness too, these are the times that leave me the most broken, searching for answers and questioning my ‘why’ in an industry so steeped in broken despair and sorrow.
My thoughts are varied and sadly I have so many heavy-hearted stories to tell but one that stands out is a day like no other. A day that broke my heart.
I had been so close to both of my grandparents since I was a baby, staying at their house, sitting on their laps, holidaying with them, and growing up with the most beautiful pure love they showed to me. To say we were close was an understatement, they were two people in the world that kept me grounded, showing me right and wrong, teaching me tough lessons, even to my dismay. I remember receiving a call at work one morning, my Nan had fallen ill and was in our local hospital. My heart sank and I couldn’t think of anything but being by her side. My colleague, and a close friend of mine decided to pay a visit to her and set out immediately from work, still in our suits. Once we arrived at the hospital, we found her room and approached to see her lying in bed, on her own, quite obviously shaken. My Nan, a woman I had spent my life with and been so close too was beside herself to see me. She was terrified that I was there to collect her, to her this stark idea of being faced with her mortality was horrifying. After a lot of reassurance that I was just there to visit and that she would be okay, the reality of this situation struck me, one day this would be the reality and I would have the responsibility of either looking after her myself or leaving such an honour to strangers. This was the moment I realised, one day things were going to get tough, very tough. Thankfully, my Nan pulled through this hospital trip and went on to live years later with the love of her life, my Pop.
We stayed close, them visiting my house every day. Over the years my beautiful Nan continued to have health issues and eventually that horrendous day came, I was completely broken as I sat beside my the broken fragments of my beloved Pop and Mum in the hospital that morning, a morning that shattered our whole world.
Days went by, feeling like an eternity, how on the earth would I gather enough strength to do what I had promised myself years earlier. In all the moments of how, I kept coming back to the only other option, an option that sounded so barbaric, so lonely, and so disappointing to her. Thinking back to that day in the hospital and her fear, I knew what I had to do regardless of my emotions, my heart would need to be strong enough to take care of a lady I had treasured and give her the care that only I could.
Mustering all the strength I had inside me I did the unthinkable and prepared her, one last time. The thought of this day still brings tears to my eyes, this was undoubtedly one of the hardest days of my life. The lump in my throat grew, my stomach was in knots and I was beside myself with grief, as I spent the final hours of alone time with my precious Nan. In the days following I arranged the details for her funeral and completed all tasks in preparation for her service. It was hard to distinguish between my personal feelings and wanting everything to be ‘just right’ for the rest of my family, I’d say my thoughts and feelings were left eating away at me while my body was in auto pilot.
After her funeral I had a lot of trouble, depression took over and my life started to spin in a downward spiral that ultimately left me spinning out of control.
My compassion fatigue had taken over and I could no longer be surrounded by loss and heartache daily, it was already inside me. This is when I decided I needed a break from the industry that had given me so much, and all the empathy I gave to others had took its toll on me emotionally, I was empty. My Nan’s passing saw me leave my job and forced me to give myself that self-care that I had pushed so far aside.
Regaining my purpose and sense of self I regained my position as a Mortician in a smaller funeral home and continued to give myself to those facing their own heartache and loss. Over the many years I have been honoured to be asked to look after several close friends and family and that part of my job never gets any easier.
Now owning my own funeral home I get to give people the kind of care that I had promised myself to provide to my beautiful Nan all those years ago, every day I wake to help people deal with the loss I have felt, every day I hope to give people more care and love, allowing them to trust me and take care of themselves in the process.
My Nan taught me so much about the person I am today, and I still feel her with me. My promise to care for her, allows me to see that same devotion in every person and loved one I am trusted with.
This is one of the reasons we are leading the way, a new way in the funeral profession, all female staff for every aspect of care from the first call, transfer, all arrangements, mortuary care, the funeral service and aftercare, all taken care of by women only. As women we are not only capable, we are stronger because we have to be, we are happier because of the love we have had, and we are wiser because of the tough lessons we have faced. My funeral home is not ‘a job’ it is my passion, my purpose, and my pride.
'The Mortuary Matriarch - Kristy Meizer'