Thursday, June 27, 2013

You Have The Worst Job Ever

This morning I heard those words as my coworker and I were getting in the rig to leave. 

You don't reply to something like that but the comment sticks with you for a while until it fades. 

 I am inclined to agree with folks sometimes.  Yes, it can be the worst job ever. Here I am, coming into a home I am not part of, seeing emotional people I usually have never met, I am the one taking away someone that has been a huge part of their lives, someone precious to them.  It's exceptionally hard to walk into these situations not knowing what I will be facing and trying to keep a calm, soothing and confident face on when often times I want to cry right along with them.  Sometimes I do get teary eyed.  Sometimes I make it until I am back within the confines of my own home.  I do hurt for the hurting.  I am not heartless as some may think it takes a hard heart to do what I do.  I am human, after all. It makes me think of all the things I've been asked since I've started working at Dunes.

You work at a Funeral home????
I get so many questions about what I do. Especially with raised brows and expressions of OMG, disgust ( tho they do try to hide it) or just plain out curiosity.  My favorites are the Moms I encounter when I am picking up my daughter from school.  They do get a little wide eyed and step back a touch.  I am the same as them in many ways I just have a job that most wouldn't think of having. 
I have many titles it seems but I refer to myself as the F.D.A. No.. Not the Food and Drug Administration .... and sometimes it could be in my case when I have no clue or chaos breaks looks.. A fumbling dipshit of America. 

I'm a Funeral Directors Assistant. ( my friends call me Grimmy ) 

"Why did you chose to do what you do"

Oh how I hate and love that question all in one.  
Sometimes I want to be cheeky and spout off that I am a freak and I love playing with dead people.  
In all honesty..  I never chose this line of work. I truly believe it chose me.  My goal in life was to become a wife and mother.  Goal achieved I am happy to say, maybe not a very high on the totem kind of goal but I'm old fashioned and I love being what I am.  Being a funeral directors assistant never once crossed my mind growing up.  It just happened that my life suddenly took a sharp turn unexpectedly and I found myself in a new town without friends and the first one I made happened to be the Funeral Director. Now my best friend I might add. I was offered a job and curiosity led me to accept it. ( of course who is NOT curious about funeral stuff..  we all go eww but we're all curious beings )

"Do you like working for the funeral home"

This one goes along with the cheeky comment above. 
My answer though is yes.  I can say I have been on both sides of the story.  I have done in home health care, taking care of people when they no longer can tend to themselves.  I have gotten to know them, care for them and I have had to say goodbye to them and watch their families fall apart without being able to help past that.  This side I am on now I can help move the process forward and help healing begin.  I can answer questions I had no answers to before.  When I do not have the answer I can seek out my Director and I know she will be able to give them the answers they need. I truly admire FDs! That's a tough job. Maybe someday when I grow up I'll become one.  I don't know if I could embalm tho. That takes iron guts!

"What do you do there"

There is so much that I do when I am called into work that it's often hard to put into words. I often joke that I am a gopher.  I go for this and go for that. Don't get me wrong I don't mind being a grunt one bit. I am a helper and I like being a helper 100%. Below is a generic version taken from somewhere off the net with my own thoughts within the "()"
  • Offer assistance to mourners. (or simply get in their way, say something wrong at any given point and so on. Though it's never intended, I do feel like the bull in a china shop sometimes if I haven't been in the office and know first hand how a family wants things done)
  •     Close caskets at appropriate point in services.
  •     Transfer the deceased to funeral homes. ( aka a First Call or Removal, sometimes easy, sometimes very hard )
  •     Hair, Makeup and Dressing of the deceased. (get extremely frustrated when the family brings in a photo from when the deceased was 20 and they are now 80 .. how do you recreate youth.  *sigh* BUT ... when you see a family relax and smile over the job well done there is a joy in knowing you have pleased them and made their loved one beautiful in their eyes. )
  •     Obtain burial permits and register deaths.( Never ever forget otherwise you will hear about it til the end of time from the Health Department Goddess's ... seriously though they are pretty nice gals )
  •     Direct or escort mourners to parlors or chapels in which wakes or funerals are being held.( Pretty much keep the process moving smoothly so there's not a pile up at the front door ... yes it happens.. often but you go with the flow )
  •     Place caskets in parlors or chapels prior to wakes or funerals.
  •     Clean and drive funeral vehicles such as cars or hearses in funeral processions.(Have you ever washed a hearse by yourself? That part is pretty easy, it's drying her before she water spots.  I love our old hearse. )
  •     Carry flowers to hearses or vehicles for transportation to places of interment. ( My favorite.. I get to stop and smell the roses.)
  •     Clean funeral parlors and chapels.( aka picking up snot drenched tissues, removing tons of cigarette butts from the parking lot, ask tray. Hey .. I never said it's glamorous )
  •     Arrange floral offerings or lights around caskets.
  •     Provide advice to mourners on how to make charitable donations in honor of the deceased. ( I have never done this myself as far as donations go but I have mentioned taking the flowers to the Aiden Senior care if they do not want them.  Let them brighten someones day if they are unwanted. )
  •     Perform general maintenance duties for funeral homes.( Thank you to my Co-worker Paul for rocking the maintenance. That man is a Handy handy man! )
  •     Issue and store funeral equipment.
  •     Perform a variety of tasks during funerals to assist funeral directors and to ensure that services run smoothly and as planned.(run like hell for anything and everything to make sure it's smooth. A happy FD is a happy me!  )
  •     Greet people at the funeral home.(and pray they don't rip your head off.. sadness and loss can make people really mean sometimes but thankfully I have only encountered a few like this.  I feel sorry for the FD at times like this. )
  •     Assist with cremations, and with the processing and packaging of cremated remains.
  •     Act as pallbearers.(OMG .... my back ... When I die I'm gonna be like 500lbs as pay backs.. I am joking.. only joking.. or am I? Word to the wise, never wear heels on a service day, not all cemeteries are smooth)
I can see my Funeral Director buddies rolling their eyes if they ever see my comments in the ( ) after what I "technically" do.  But I call it like I see it and you know sometimes a little humor is OK in life ( and in death ) I think if we didn't laugh some we'd all lose our minds.  
It's hard work and sometimes rather punishing.  I'm still questioning at times why I do it.  
Oh yeah .. I know why .. I like helping people!  Yes ... I do love helping people. 
From one stage to another.  Moving on, moving forward, finding closure, etc. 

"Do it ever affect you"

Re-read that second paragraph!! Yes, it does. Often deeply.  
It makes you "think" about your actions in daily life as well.  

I used to be a crazy speeding driver. I rarely ever go over 65 in a 55 zone unless I am passing someone.  I drive 55, cruise control when it's not raining. When I die I want my face to be as it should be. Seeing what I have seen I shake my head at people that drive like fools. That extra minute isn't worth it unless you're an EMS in route!

It makes you really consider death and how you will deal with your loved ones when it is there time.  I have gone through the scenario about my parents over and over in my mind. So many times. Not because I "want" to but often because I have been called to a home where someone was my parents age.  I am a hot wet mess when I think of losing my parents. I am an only child.  Put me in a straight jacket and give me a sippy cup when the time comes.

It makes you even more scared to lose your children. Though I tend to push that thought away and tuck it deep it's always there. 

It makes me worry about my co-workers. When I know there is a wreck on 101 about the time they should be going into work I worry.  They have become my second family.

I dread the calls that involve people on my street. I live among elderly. So far 3 and it's an awkward feeling when I see the fellow that works at DQ walking past on his way to work because he was there when I took his father away. We say simple hellos.

It bothers me when a welfare check is done by the PD or Sheriff.  It's like those people are forgotten.
Suicides bother me. On one hand I find it incredibly sad that someone could feel such despair and on the other I find it to be incredibly selfish of them that they do not think of what their actions will cause once it's done.

and on and on and on ..  
yes .. it does affect me but you learn to deal with it one way or another. 
In the end.. I still love what I do..   and yeah sometimes it can be the worst job ever but it's also exceptionally rewarding to help people.