Working in the Funeral industry aged 20 and female comes with its challenges from the very beginning. I believe that most people when knocking on the door of a funeral home would expect to be greeted by a gentleman that has years of experience within the industry. What I didn’t realise was that this perception would be an obstacle I would have to deal with quite frequently.
I had just finished my teenage years working a job in retail that I enjoyed, however, I felt I had a lot more to offer elsewhere. Funeral Care was something that interested me greatly after the loss of my grandad. My family and I were treated so beautifully by our choice of Funeral Director, they did this job every day, but made us feel like they were only dealing with us. This left a lasting impression on me and I will be forever grateful for what they did for us at our time in need. I wanted to do what they did, I knew I could offer that level of care and compassion.
After 2 unsuccessful attempts at gaining the role I desired so much, I finally got given the chance and was took on as an Assistant Funeral Director. On paper this was primarily making funeral arrangements as requested by the family you were dealing with, but in reality it was so much more.
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “you don’t look like the type of person that would do this job” among many others. Straight away you’re having to prove yourself because of your age and gender, I thrived off that, it made me more determined than ever. On a couple of occasions, I had families walk away before I could even welcome them through my door and offer them a drink because I didn’t look like what they were expecting, and as upsetting as those occasions were, I knew it wasn’t anything personal so tried hard to not perceive it that way.
I’ve held hands with a lady whilst I walked her to see her husband one last time, and stayed with her whilst she sang to him because she couldn’t on her own. I’ve sat with a young boy whilst he said his final goodbyes to his grandad, he told me story after story about their time together. A few months back I organised a little coffee afternoon for a few gentlemen who had lost their wives, so they could talk to someone in a similar situation to themselves. I have hugged people whilst they’ve sobbed on my shoulder. I could go on…
The most rewarding thing for me is to receive a thank you card or a present from someone who admittedly had their guard up at the beginning. I am sure most who work in this industry do so because they feel they can bring a natural high level of care to someone in their time of need, regardless of their gender or age.