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Working in the death care industry and what I learned
"If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right"
Most people don't know this, but I worked in the death care industry as a customer service representative for a year, receiving anywhere from 30-100 calls a day. This is what it taught me:
This industry reveals that people grieve in an infinite number of ways. There is no "set standard" for grieving. There is no formula like you may have heard. For one person, they may never come to the "acceptance" phase and be stuck in a constant loop of anger and rage for many, many years. And for another person, they may have the stages of grief completely out of order and then on repeat. Some people screamed at me on the phone, some people cried, and some people told me their life stories.
This industry is not for the faint of heart. It can be very, very hard for empaths. REWARDING, but also hard. I will never forget a call I got from a mother asking when her son's gravestone would be done. After 30 minutes of hearing her story, I was in tears. Had to step outside to get some fresh air while the next customer was calling. There were days when I would go home so fulfilled that I was able to help someone who needed it by offering a listening ear. Then there were days I would go home an absolute wreck.
This industry puts death into perspective. I was perpetually amazed at how many customers called each day. Every call represented a soul lost - young, old, and everywhere in between. When we go about our daily lives, most of us don't think of death. In my case though, I had to think about it at least a hundred times a day, 5 days a week. "Memento mori" took on a whole practical meaning.
This industry requires compassion. When people are hurting, they need love. This means listening, empathizing and offering encouragement. I saw too many working in this field who were organized and process-driven, but lacked compassion. And I saw the consequences of it. The death care industry would benefit from remembering that the deceased are not just order numbers. They are souls who left behind people who loved them dearly. And those people are in pain.
A legacy is a person, remembered. When we remember them, we are not just holding onto their memories. We are taking the best from that person and putting them into action. Grief is a normal part of people's lives that we need to handle with care and consideration.
Remember that we all must die. But before we do, let's make sure we truly live.
Have you lost a loved one? What was your experience with funeral homes, gravestone companies, etc? How do you think they could change? I would love to hear from you.
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