‘I Just Totally Love What I Do,’ says Funeral Director

January 4, 2010
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imageWhat started out as a joke nearly 30 years ago has become a ?calling? for Darrin Ellis.

?It?s like some people and the priesthood. It?s just always been there,? he said.

Ellis was sitting in his high school guidance office all those years ago, leafing through a list of potential careers.

?They had some legitimate ones, but they had all sorts of weird ones, too ? clowns, popcorn makers, ticket-takers. That?s how ?embalmer? came up. It sounded kind of cool.?

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For a lark, Ellis sought more information about becoming an embalmer, and somehow, the idea stuck.

Once he finished high school, he enrolled in the funeral director program at Toronto?s Humber College. But he only stayed for two weeks, lured back to Windsor by the prospect of a lucrative job in the auto industry, where a handful of his friends were working.

He spent the next 19 years working at an auto parts company.

Then, in 2006, he got the bad news: the plant was closing.

?I was kind of shocked because after 19 years, you think you?re set,? Ellis said. ?I never thought I?d be starting over.?

He decided to apply, once again, to the funeral director program.

While waiting to hear back from the school, the auto parts company offered him a position at a different location. Then, when Humber College accepted his application, he had a choice to make: continue working in the auto industry or take a gamble on a second career.

?It did worry me,? said his wife, Donna. ?Getting up and quitting your job and going off to school, it was scary.

?But I just went with the flow because he?s always wanted to be a funeral director. I said, ?You?re going to live your dream now.??

After nearly two years of studying and working as an apprentice, Ellis, 44, is living his dream.

He?s been working as a licenced funeral director at Windsor Chapel Funeral Home for about a year and a half, and says he?s never regretted his decision. ?I wish I would have done it 20 years ago,? he said.

Ellis spends his days co-ordinating services with clergy and cemeteries, conducting funerals, embalming bodies and dealing with relatives of the deceased.

The most challenging aspect of the job is the pressure of deadlines, he said.

?When you plan a wedding you have a year or more, and with a funeral you just have a few days.

?It?s a one-time event and you want it to be perfect.?

Ellis said working with grieving families is the most rewarding aspect.

?It?s nice to be at the door when people come in. It?s good to help people. I just totally love what I do.?

Source: Windsor Star (via Canada.com)

Photograph by: TYLER BROWNBRIDGE, The Windsor Star

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