I think at this point I have written about not going to mortuary school a few times, and yet despite it all, my funeral home still receives numerous messages from young hopefuls that say we inspired them to go to mortuary school, which is perplexing as we constantly encourage you to not go to mortuary school. At no time have we ever said to go to mortuary school! Why do you keep going to mortuary school?! (sigh)
So, since you are going to go no matter what I say or tell you I am going to try one last time to state my case. And spoiler alert, I’m going to just start sending this essay to you if you ask me about how to get a job in the industry or how to go to mortuary school. (deep breath) Here we go.
Ok so at one point in my life I was just like you. My personal story entails being super lost and not sure what I wanted to do with my life. Then when I made friends with a funeral director who was my age, I got to thinking that maybe this was the path for me. I rationalized that although I had never encountered a dead body I would probably be good with them and I really wanted to help people through a difficult time in their life. And yes, loads of people told me I was crazy and that I wouldn’t like the job and yes that is normal for friends and family to not get it. It’s ok. Don’t listen to them. I mean they are right about it being a difficult job but for all the wrong reasons.
My next question was the same as yours. Ok so what do I do next? I called a bunch of funeral homes asking if I could volunteer or shadow, and I was immediately laughed at or hung up on. At the time I didn’t understand why, because no one took the time to talk to me about it! Rude! I called a local funeral home, Cabot and Sons, and I shit you not the guy on the phone told me they were not hiring or taking anyone on to volunteer because they were-and I fu*$ing quote-“Cabot and Sons“. Harsh.
Here’s the thing, internships and volunteering are a great way and easy way to get sued for not paying a person or taking advantage of them, and while a business can legally offer them the truth is that having an intern means more work for a funeral home, not less. Interns require massive amounts of training, its essentially an apprenticeship and you are receiving a free hands on education, and when you are trying to run a business based on privacy and discretion that last thing you want is a young hopeful under your wing who may or may not only be in this to say that they got to see a dead body. Sorry guys but most of the people that want to get into this do it for that reason.
So after realizing that I couldn’t volunteer my next thought was that obviously I had to go to school, and this is the part I am begging you to read! You do not need to go to school to get a job at a funeral home. You can do a simple internet search and find a job that you are more than likely qualified to apply for right now. I wish someone had told me this when I was first figuring this out. I don’t say this to scare you away from going to school, by all means I encourage everyone to go to school in general, and an education is never a bad thing. However what I want is for you to get a better grasp of what the job actually entails and I think that you if you are going to jump into a bunch of student loans and debt that will take you the next decade to pay off, its better that you find out this job is for you while you collect a paycheck not debt.
Again, I want all of you #deathpositive folks to have a healthy understanding of death and how the funeral industry works. Seriously!! Do you know how amazing it would be for a funeral director to sit down with a family that understood the process already and knew how long everything was going to take and why? OH MY GAHD! Pretty much all of my stress comes from families not understanding the very basics of a funeral and all of that adds to my own personal burnout and I am willing to bet a lot of other good natured funeral directors feel the same!
So, to keep this simple, let me reiterate my message.
- No you most likely cannot volunteer at a funeral home. Do not call them and ask.
- No you do not need to go to mortuary school to get a job at funeral home.
- Yes you are qualified right now to apply for basic jobs like a Funeral Service Assistant.
- Yes you can easily locate your State’s mortuary school with a simple google search.
- Yes you probably will have to commute pretty far to go to said school unless you luck out and live near it. No there is no hidden mortuary program that did not pop up in your search.
- Yes you can start your own alternative funeral home, but you have to work in a traditional funeral home first because you have to know the rules if you want to break them.
- Last but not least please watch Hasan Minhaj’s episode on student debt so you can understand why I so fervently discourage you from going to school before you actually work in a funeral home. Guys debt is serious!!!
Ok well that’s all for now! Thanks for reading Deathlings!!