The story of how I came to be so passionate about the funeral industry is a very sad one. I was 17 and standing in my dad’s kitchen when I was told of the terrible loss of one of my best friends to suicide.
In the days that followed I was lost, heartbroken and scared. We sat for days reminiscing about our friend, not believing I would get the chance to see him again, that is until I was invited to say goodbye to him at the viewing in the days prior to his funeral service.
Not having experienced anything even remotely like this before I was so scared of what I would see, how I might react or the emotional consequences of the viewing, yet I still attended wanting to say a final goodbye. Entering the chapel, I felt a wave come over myself, like an extreme feeling of calm, something I certainly wasn’t expecting. It was like he was there with me, wrapping me in his arms. I felt as though I had adopted his peace, if not for a short while. As I approached the coffin, I couldn’t help but notice the marks, the lack of care for my friend was undeniable. My heart was broken, yet I felt compelled to give people something better. After a while I kissed my friend goodbye and then went to the reception counter. I spoke with a man that proceeded to tell me that I was grieving, I didn’t know what was involved in preparing people or working in an industry such as this, I was too young and a woman.
For every point I raised, he had an answer that shot me down time after time. It was at that moment that I realised ‘that is what I was meant to do’. I felt it in every part of myself and more, I was not going to let someone who didn’t realise my strength, resilience and passion deny my reason to follow my heart.
In the year that followed I attended all the funeral homes in the region, knocking on their doors with my resume in hand, dressed in a suit and begging for a chance to prove myself.
In 2001 I was accepted into a small funeral home for work experience, I met professionals who were dedicated to what they did, and I met people who were in it for the money. I attended forensic examinations, motor vehicle accidents and suicides. It is fair to say this was an eye opener but did not change or deter me from my passion.
After this I was given a chance of a full-time position at a family funeral home. This began my career and since then I have worked in many different facets of the industry including some of the biggest names in the funeral industry in Australia, smaller funeral homes and the forensic medicine centre.
Over the years the one dream I have always had is to one day open my very own funeral home and provide the best service I know how.
I have wiped many tears from my own cheeks trying to hide my sadness from families, I have held children and babies for hours, just so they aren’t alone, I have been the sounding board and the shoulder to lean on for families who don’t know where to turn and I have had my own losses and cared for my own loved ones in their passing. As soul crushing as this has been it has only deepened my resolve to be more understanding and care deeper when trusted with something so precious. My role as a funeral director comes from a place of absolute compassion, I am a real person with real feelings just trying to ease the feelings of helplessness from people at a time of complete loss.
I have built this business on a foundation of hopes, dreams and tears. My struggle to prove myself continues but my spirit will not be broken. If you can find someone more compassionate, dedicated and sensitive to the needs of the deceased and their families I would encourage you to utilise their service.
I was not born into this industry; I was born from it.