Working With The Dead: What It’s Really Like To Be A Mortician

People get a creepy feeling when they think about what a mortician does. Many may believe morticians simply prepare the bodies of those who have “crossed the bar,” so to speak, for their final viewing. But the processes to prepare the dead for burial go farther than just embalming a person. As we’ll learn straight from the mouths of those who work in the death profession, there is more to life than just death.

Do You Have the Guts to Be a Mortician?

Do You Have the Guts to Be a Mortician?

Most people aspire to be something that will give them a career and make them happy in the long run. Some people aspire to be doctors or lawyers while others choose to go into the business world. When people would ask someone what they wanted to be back then, have you ever recalled anyone saying that they wanted to be a mortician?

More than likely no. You may be puzzled by someone who wants to become a mortician. Who wants to deal with dead bodies everyday? According to morticians, there are two things that you must have: 1. You must have an education. 2. You definitely need to have the passion to do this.

How Much Does It Pay to Be a Mortician?

How Much Does It Pay to Be a Mortician?

Dealing with dead bodies must come with perks. There are many dull days in the office of a mortician due to the lack of motivation of the people who come into the morgue daily. Those ladies and gentleman who come in have no life at all, and thus a mortician has to deal with these lifeless individuals.

Seriously, the pay for a mortician will vary by state. Morticians are also known as undertakers and sometimes funeral directors. You must have a license to be a mortician and you first have to go to a mortuary science school. The average pay for a mortician is around $50,000 but this varies by state.

What Type of Person Makes a Good Mortician?

What Type of Person Makes a Good Mortician?

You may suspect that severe depression can occur when it comes to being a mortician. This is true in a lot of cases, but remember, it is the families of those who have passed on who are grieving and dealing with the depression more than the mortician themselves. One thing that makes a good mortician is being skilled in the craft of preserving dead bodies, but that is only half of the battle.

What kind of person would make a good mortician? If you can wait on tables, then you can be a good mortician. Why is this you may ask? Morticians must have good customer service skills, especially dealing with grieving family members.

What Are the Misconceptions of Being an Undertaker?

What Are the Misconceptions of Being an Undertaker?

Many people have misconceptions of what it’s like to be a mortician/undertaker. Dealing with cadavers on a daily basis entails some parts of this job. The preparation process of being a mortician may not be for those who get butterflies in their tummy very easily. Being a mortician is more than just dealing with the deceased and their grieving families.

There are families that need consoling during their time of mourning. They also need to be comforted, so people skills are needed. Paperwork is a very big part of the job, and this is perhaps the most unknown thing about a mortician’s job for those who are not in the business.

Paperwork is Just One Part of the Job

Paperwork is Just One Part of the Job

Paperwork perhaps entails more of the mortician’s job than any other aspect of the job. Paperwork is involved when it comes to preparing a dead body for the embalming process and also dealing with family members. Paperwork includes everything from the marketing side of the funeral business to the legal side of the business.

The marketing side of this business includes selling caskets, headstones, and even urns for those who want their loved one cremated. The legal side of the business includes submitting papers to the state so that the state can make a death certificate of the deceased.

Strange Funeral Request Makes this Job Unique

Strange Funeral Request Makes this Job Unique

Morticians get a great deal of bizarre requests when it comes to the send-off of their loved ones. There was one funeral of a person who was a card player in their life. The person was embalmed and the morticians sat the man at a table and put cards in his hand as if he were alive and playing cards.

There have been all sorts of requests. Another one that stands out is a man who had passed away and his profession was that of a clown. His family made the request of putting the individual in a full clown outfit. The family even came decked out in clown clothes.

Jeepers Creepers What Did You Do To Those Peepers

Jeepers Creepers What Did You Do To Those Peepers

Morticians are also magicians when it comes to making a dead body look presentable at funeral day. They have the skills to make a body look almost lifelike sans the vitals. You may wonder what happens to a person’s eyes during the embalming process.

The eyes actually deflate and in a sense, shrink. If you ever leave a grape in a warm environment, the grape will shrink and lose its form. This is what happens to the eyes of the deceased. The mortician does not remove the eyes. Instead they tape or glue the eyes shut. Embalming fluid is injected into the eyes and in many cases the eye gets its original shape back with the embalming fluid.

The Mortician Can Reconstruct Parts and Make Things Seem Normal

The Mortician Can Reconstruct Parts and Make Things Seem Normal

Being a mortician involves a bit of reconstruction of the body. Some people do not die a normal death. Some people may have their body parts mangled or even ripped off and those parts have to be reconstructed. Some people have been set on fire and most of their body has been burned to such a degree that would not be possible to display the body in a coffin.

Body restoration is a part of the funeral business. There are several tools that are used to reconstruct bodies. Some things can be fixed and some things cannot be reconstructed. The process includes covering simple bruises to putting a person’s head back on their body.

Embalming is Not For the Faint of Heart

Embalming is Not For the Faint of Heart

It would be best to have a settled stomach before proceeding. Getting a dead body ready for viewing is not for the squeamish. The first part of the embalming process is not so bad. There is some paperwork as mentioned earlier that is a part of the funeral business. Morticians have to make sure that the person they are embalming is the correct person. Sometimes the wrong person gets embalmed. After this the body has to be sanitized first and then the embalming process begins.

There is something called “setting the features” in which you make a person’s face look like they are sleeping. Plastic cups are put in the eyes so that they do not look sunken in. A device known as a needle injector is put into the jaws and gums. Now comes the gross stuff. Cotton balls are put into the genitals, nose, and rectum to prevent any leakage. Blood is then removed from the deceased body since blood pools into the organs after a person dies. The blood is then replaced with an embalming fluid called formalin.

Removing a Body from a Home Is No Fun

Removing a Body from a Home Is No Fun

Being a mortician involves looking at the very worst of situations and requires a lot of patience and understanding. A mortician will receive a call from a family and they will be told where to pick up the body of the deceased. Sometimes removals are easy such as removing a body from a nursing home or a hospital, and some can be very devastating.

Seeing things such as a crime scene can take a toll on a person. Sometimes the family of a crime victim is present when the mortician arrives to pick up a body. The mortician has to be compassionate and be understanding to the family in these types of situations.

The Family Route May Be the Best Way of Getting Into the Business

The Family Route May Be the Best Way of Getting Into the Business

Many people have tried to get their “foot into the door” with a company, and those of you who are recent college graduates know that it is very hard to get your foot into the door. The same can often be said about the funeral business. After a person graduates from mortuary school, they may have a hard time finding a job, although the person has all of the qualifications.

Some people who are morticians have family members who are morticians. These individuals will already have their life locked because the family will not turn them down. Some people who start off in the mortuary business start off washing hearses, buying clothes, and mowing lawns.

Just Be Patient and Things Will Be Fine

Just Be Patient and Things Will Be Fine

Compassion is the key to being a mortician. You have to have those valuable customer service skills in order to be an outstanding mortician. When a person or family loses a loved one, emotions can range from semi-calm to frantic. A mortician has to be patient enough to handle those types of situations.

Being understanding helps in a very big way. A mortician does not want to be thought of as just the person preparing the body, but a person who cares and understands the emotions of a person who has lost a loved one. If someone wants to be a mortician, this is important. People who do not have patience should not become morticians.

Being A Mortician Takes Up a Lot of Time

Being A Mortician Takes Up a Lot of Time

People who want to become morticians may want to think twice about having a family. Nobody who “wants” to be a funeral director will make it. The job normally takes up a lot of time, and time away from the spouse may not be good in many cases. Some would say that being a mortician is like being married. If you have ever heard someone say that they are married to their business, then being a mortician qualifies.

A person becomes married to this business. Many bodies come into a mortuary, and there are two sure things in this world, death and taxes.

A Mortician Cannot Be Lazy and Do Their Job

A Mortician Cannot Be Lazy and Do Their Job

Some people on jobs will ask if you are working hard or hardly working. Some people may have the luxury of sitting at a desk and are able to kick their feet back and have a bit of leisure time even while they are working. A mortician does not have time for this at all. They are usually on their feet and they are almost always on the go.

People who have a bad work ethic should not consider being a morticians. People who like multi-tasking and being on their feet might have an eye for this type of job. There are also some grotesque things associated with this job as well, and so people who are slackers definitely would not like this job.

Your Pockets Might Become Tight as a Mortician

Your Pockets Might Become Tight as a Mortician

Those who start off in the mortuary business may not make a lot of money at first. It may take several years before they see a decent amount of money to make a living. As mentioned earlier, some morticians start of cleaning and washing hearses and mowing the front lawn of a funeral home. It will seem like a person is working for minimum wage in some cases when they start out.

The only people who really make money in this business are funeral directors. Those individuals who are morticians may want to strive to be funeral directors since that is where the money is.

A License May Not Be Easy to Get

A License May Not Be Easy to Get

Getting a license may not be as easy as it sounds. Every state has its requirements for obtaining a license and each state is different. There are distinctions in some states between embalmers and funeral directors. The time spent in school may range from three years of education, and sometimes the time spent in school can vary from less to more.

This may sound hard to believe, but some states do not have mortuary schools. Some states make it a requirement that a person has to have an internship before they can obtain their license. The test that a person takes may either be a state test or a national test.

A Sound Mind Makes All of the Difference in the Funeral Business

A Sound Mind Makes All of the Difference in the Funeral Business

A person would be best suited to have a sound mind when being in the mortuary business. A person with family issues may not be the idea person to handle someone who is going through a rough time. Some people carry their problems into the workplace and those problems can affect individuals who are working around this type of person.Emotions in this industry can run high, and bringing emotional baggage to an emotional situation can turn things into a powder keg.

A bit of counseling is involved in some cases like this, so the mortician has to become a counselor in a sense and deal with other emotions and separate their emotions from their job.

Family Life Goes Out of the Door

Family Life Goes Out of the Door

There seems to be a revolving door when it comes to those who pass away. The funeral business is one that is recession proof because someone is always dying and the dead cannot tend to their own matters. It is up to the morticians to do this type of work, and it takes away from all kinds of family situations.

People in the funeral business miss holidays and other family gatherings such as attending sporting events and even hanging out with the family on the weekends. The larger the funeral home, the more time will be taken away from the family.

The Age Gap Factor

The Age Gap Factor

As stated earlier, it takes a lot of years to become established in the business. Those years of doing small tasks will pay off in the long run. By long run, I mean the very long run. A person may be in their 40s or near their 50s before they become established in this business.

People who are near retirement age perhaps reap the most benefits. The mortuary business takes years to get a hold of, and a large majority of funeral directors are up in age. Someone who is age 18 or a little bit older will have to gain the knowledge and experience before they can even begin to climb the ladder.

Ewww Something Stinks Very Badly

Ewww Something Stinks Very Badly

A person can expect to get a bit funky when working in the mortuary business. The smell of other chemicals and such is one thing, and the smell of a person is another thing. Have you ever walked along a trail and smelled an animal that has died? Imagine that smell to the 10th power.

A person may pick up a body that has been decomposing for weeks or months and the smell can be overwhelming. Dealing with innards and such can bring about bad odors because of the substances inside the organs and such. The smell can be so bad that a person actually takes the odors home with them.