Let’s Talk About It.

Okay death-denying society, let’s face the inevitable, we all die!

Jennifer Estes

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Photo by Fey Marin on Unsplash

I am a licensed Funeral Director in the state of Utah. What this means, since the average American has no clue, is that I am a mortician.

I earned a 2-year college degree in Mortuary Science which required 10 embalmings. The last embalming is done alone with the professor watching. It’s showing them that you know what you are doing. I completed a 1 year paid internship with a funeral home, which included a very stringent list of hours spent on the job and the number of embalmings to be completed. I then passed 2 national board exams. One in the Arts of Funeral Directing and one in the Sciences of Funeral Directing. I applied for state licensure which is a two-year license that requires 24 credit hours of continuing education in each two-year period. I have been licensed since 2017 as an intern and 2018 fully licensed.

Why is it important that I explain the requirements for my job? I will answer that question. First, let me explain that way back in the day when death occurred it was typically the women who took care of the body. Washing and prepping for burial. Likely a man dug a hole, but it was the woman who arranged it. It wasn’t until about the early 1900s that men began to take over. They took over because of the money to be made in selling caskets. Back then the owner of the general store was likely also the local “mortician” who sold your casket and charged your family to handle the arrangements.

As a death-fearing, death-denying society we don’t stop to think about this process…ever.

The funeral home I work for has 7 licensed funeral directors, 4 are women and 3 are men. We also have 4 licensed interns right now, 2 women and 2 men. I typically meet with an average of 21 families per month. That is me personally. What this means is that there are an average of 21 deaths per month that I am the one in charge of handling. And by handling, I mean handling.

So there are 16 families I will meet with and gather demographic information so I can begin the death certificate. I will handle every particular detail of the burial, funeral, ship-in, ship-out, or cremation. If I had just one dollar for every time a family asked me a question and it contained…

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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.