I really wanted to get on here on Friday night so I could’ve written about the experience when it was still fresh, but I was so exhausted and then Saturday and today were jam packed. So now that I’ve caught my breath, I’ll try and jot down my Friday to today.
First of all, I thought I was about to be late for work because my car’s oil light started yelling at me, so I had to turn around when I was only a couple of blocks away and take my boyfriend’s car to work. Luckily, I was there on time, and as soon as I walked into the office, I barely had enough time to put my purse down before a coworker was whisking me off to the chapel to help assist in a service.
I haven’t worked a service or visitation/viewing or anything yet, so my heart immediately started beating hard. I walk into the chapel and get told that I’m going to have to check on the service every so often for about an hour, and then it would be my job to open the side door (on cue) for the family to circle the casket and exit out the side (they were Hindu and this is a ritual they do).
I immediately thought “I’m going to ruin this”, but I took a breath and made it happen. I sort of thought it was weird that I didn’t stay in the room for the whole service, but we were a little short staffed, and I needed to go around and help out with a bunch of other things. I walked in and out of the chapel for most of the service, and once the eulogies started, I remained in the room and waited for my cue. Once the priest waved me forward, I stood near the front and waited till I had to open the doors.
I think the thing that made me most nervous was missing the cue or doing something wrong, but there was really no way to mess up opening a door when told to. Once I had them open, the family started the recessional, up and around the casket and out the side door to wait for the immediate family in front. Once the immediate family was ready, the funeral director and I were asked to come up and close the casket. After we closed it, the males of the family gathered around the casket and pushed it through the doors where the rest of the mourners were waiting.
I waked ahead of the cortege and made way to the crematory. Once they arrived, the funeral director and I stood on either side of the crematory door and waited for the prayers to be done so we could load the casket into the chamber. It felt so intimate to be surrounded by the whole family (around 50 people in all), and I thought I had it together until the husband went to say a final goodbye. When he went to say his prayer, his voice cracked and he started crying and I almost lost it!
I felt the love and sadness and I had to look away from their crying faces before I started bawling. I think one of the family members caught my eyes when I started to well up. Once we loaded the casket in, they waited for the burners to be up to the right temperature and they started the cremation process. The family loaded out and I had completed my first service.
Once that was over, I was then whisked away to help with a visitation we were having from 5-9pm. Everything went smoothly, not a big crowd came for the visitation, and I ended up chatting with the pastor that was going to help out with the service the next day. He was real nice and was asking me about why I chose this profession. I told him (in as quick of a way as I could), and he told me about when he was a kid, his dad helped with a local mortuary in Mississippi, so he likes to chat with us “morticians”.
I was shown some more things, and was let to do more things than I did on Tuesday, and I’m definitely catching onto the way things work around there. Small things like where certain things are or how they want certain things done will come in due time. Once the family was gone, we finished cleaning and got home later than I wanted to (but that’s the life, right?).
I was so sore and tired by the time I got home, but mostly hungry. I made it a mission to get my boyfriend to go get food with me so we could chat and eat. We got home fairly late, and then Saturday was an all day thing with a 3 year old’s birthday party and hanging with my friend’s that I hadn’t seen in a while, and we ended up staying out till 3 in the morning!
I woke up “early” and ran some errands, got in a little homework, and then headed into work. Today was slow (it’s Sunday), and I was allowed to basically do it all myself. Since I was closing with my friend (who got me the job), and she wants me to be as self sufficient as possible, I basically closed up shop by myself. I did the things I could remember to do, and asked “do (insert thing) now right?”, and told, “yes”, so I figure I’m doing better than they expected me to be doing on my 4th day on the job.
The only part of today that sort of sucked was that we could’ve been out earlier had my coworker actually stepped in and helped do some things, but once I was done with everything, we were waiting on the crematory to be under a certain temperature before we closed that up anyway, so it didn’t matter. We only waited about 15 minutes before it was time to go, and we closed up the gates and I went home.
I just got done eating a late dinner and doing a little bit of homework, and now I think I’m gonna go to bed “early” (it’s 11pm), so I’m not crazy tired for tomorrow. I can’t believe I’m already in the 5th week of school. I should really be getting onto some of the projects and papers that I have due in the next month or two, but we’ll see. I know me, they’ll get put off until I’m rushing to finish them, ’cause that’s just how I roll.
I’ll conclude this long and drawn out post by saying, I really do love what I’m getting into. I can feel it in my bones that this is something that I’ll be good at. I get super tired and sore and come home exhausted, but it feels good. Plus, my new comfy shoes really help out 😉