A Calling

Finding purpose and meaning in life can make all the difference in our mental health.

Jennifer Estes

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Photo by Akson on Unsplash

After two and a half years of working from home for a telemedicine company, I returned to work as a funeral director (mortician). Being a funeral director is my calling in life.

It took me five years to get the mortuary science degree. I worked full time, went to school full time, and had so much math to catch up on. The first three years were all prerequisites. I persisted and pressed on, even though my life partner was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor halfway through the mortuary science program. Even though my son, who struggles so much with substance use disorder, was sentenced to prison the same month Tom was diagnosed. I persisted in my goal of graduation despite it all. After graduating, passing the boards, and completing my internship to become a fully licensed Funeral Director, I feel pride in myself.

Working as a mortician is stressful, challenging, demanding, and rewarding. The friendships with my fellow morticians, those equally strange folks who get my sense of humor, who get my desire to help grieving families, my desire to work with the dead; these friendships are truly rewarding.

The telemedicine company, and the time I spent working for them, made me significantly realize my calling. Working for them meant being treated like a child. Limits were placed on everything we did; we were not allowed to do anything that was not part of the job description. Micromanagement was the norm. “Coaching” happened every month; it was based on fellow employees telling on each other for any and everything. I was written up for not making enough notes and then for too many notes. The bottom line was I felt like an idiot that couldn’t do basic things. I hated my job and being treated like a child, and my self-esteem suffered. My depression grew so much worse to the point I ended up back on antidepressants.

Going back to the funeral home, I was given a giant box of business cards with my name, a company cell phone, and a company credit card. The dummy who makes too many notes, or not enough notes, who can’t follow the script, or keep the basic commands of the job, can handle a company credit card. I am trusted with company vehicles. On my first week back, I went…

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Jennifer Estes

I am a widow, a mortician, a mom, and grandma. I write about grief, caregiving, substance use disorder, and the death care industry.