By Brett Henderson
They come in different shapes, sizes, colors, shades, religions and creeds, yet they share one particular interest: dead bodies! What is this special breed of people given to the task of going where most dare not? These minds have overcome the chilling facts of life with death. They have learned the ways to physically and psychologically dress its opposition like a painter does his canvas. Let’s enter this world of mystery and silence and see what they see, feel what they feel and finally hear what they hear.
Welcome to a bird’s eye view of “A Profile of a Mortician.”
Picture a wire-protected glass door leading to a cold shady room. From a short distance is seen the reflection of a spacious room decorated with stainless steel cabinets, sinks and tools. You attempt to control your uneasiness as the door electronically opens, releasing a peculiar odor into the air. The lights are brightened, causing attention to be drawn to a lifeless silhouette, cased in linen.
What you see becomes “What are you *really seeing?” You bravely swallow your fears and follow the tour guide’s lead, all while thoughts of a horror movie gone bad run through your mind. With each step, the air becomes chillier. You are now being pulled like a fish in a net towards the part of the linen cloth that appears purposely designed too short for its purpose.
During this walk for knowledge, you pass by a spiritual poem called “Footsteps On The Wall.” It’s then you question if this story is worth the nightmares you subconsciously perceive having for the next night or two. You listen as the tour guide goes about explaining equipment and its purposes. Attempts at keeping focus are interrupted by the chilly air and the lifeless toes protruding from the cloth. These factors continuously urge a mad dash to the exit, but you stand nervously waiting for your opportunity to question.
Carly, a UNO student, has ambitions to become a mortician. From listening to her voice, one gets the distinct impression that she’s sincere in her choice. Her hobbies are much the same as any other student — nothing too weird or strange. In fact, her rationale for choosing such a field is touching. She “wants to be able to comfort families during their loss.”
She also mentions that the pay is great and the schooling isn’t too long. Surprisingly, she doesn’t have any family members in the field, but her friends and family are supportive. She currently works at a shop to gather the experience needed on the road to making her dreams come true.
“Socially, this occupation is much like others, such as doctor, policeman, laborers they hang out when work is complete,” she says. The only downside she can think of is the lack of local mortician schools. The closest is Kansas City (Kan.) Community College’s Mortuary Science Department.
If you work best when your surroundings are filled with pain and anguish, there is a job waiting for you. If you want to support the bereaved during grief, just read on. If you take pride in catering to the deceased, pack your bags. If you able to meet demands such as the wishes of the survivors and the law, if you’re able to help others adapt to changes in their lives following a death, there’s a house atop a mountain waiting for you.
Why do ordinary individuals want to become morticians? One could say that it’s the same sort of intuition that makes superstars super. Surely, this job isn’t for the weak of heart and it carries more responsibility than the respect given. If you share a profile of a mortician, don’t be afraid to apply yourself, because anything less would be unnatural.
For more career and education info, visit the National Funeral Directors Association Web site at www.nfda.org.