They say if you make it past the first five years in the funeral business, you’re in it for life. I guess statistically, with those first five years you are at the highest risk for burnout. I know. I almost dropped out after two. But I made some changes and kept trudging through. And here I am. Five years later.
When I look back on my twenty year old self, fresh-faced right out of mortuary school, I feel mixed emotions. My first two years working in the business were some of the happiest and hardest times of my life. I learned more in my first two months than I could have ever hoped to learn in my two years at school. And I also experienced a lot of pain. Emotionally, I gave my entire self to the families I served and my co-workers, leaving nothing left for me. Physically, I pushed my five-foot-two frame to the max as I embalmed and transported bodies twice my size. My spirit and back both broke over time.
But no matter what, I would never change my journey. I am forever grateful to my colleagues for pushing me. If it were not for them, I would not have the knowledge that I do today. But maybe most importantly, I would not have the respect for myself that I do today. I am grateful to my parents, who became a net to catch me when I fell into a deep depression, questioning my career and choices. And I am forever grateful to my husband (or boyfriend, back then) for loving me unconditionally even when I was a miserable prick.
You see, the people we surround ourselves with shape who we become. And in my darkest of times, I had the lightest people by my side.
Today at work, a man approached me and asked how I got into this business. I politely laughed explaining it’s in the family. He seemed satisfied with that answer and as he turned away from me he said,”But you know, it is a calling.”
Whether it’s my calling or my curse, statistically, I guess I’m in it for the long run.