Funeral Industry News

What Have I Gotten Myself Into? – Toby Sutton

January 28, 2010

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What Have I Gotten Myself Into? – Toby Sutton

imageToby Sutton is an Embalmer/ Funeral Director at Emerson Funeral Home in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He graduated from Weiner High School in 1996, University of Arkansas at Monticello in 2000 with a BA in English, Arkansas State University-Jonesboro in 2002 with an MA in English, and Arkansas State University-Mountain Home in 2003 with an Associate of Applied Science in Funeral Service. He was an adjunct instructor in the Mortuary Science Program at Mountain Home for two years before moving back to his hometown. He is active in the Northeast Arkansas Funeral Director Club, being a past president, and is also a member of the American Society of Embalmers.

He works full time and likes to write about funeral service on the side. He still lives in his hometown.

This may be a question that many of you are asking yourself. I am convinced that this is not so much a profession that you choose; instead the profession chooses you.

Some of you are probably wondering what to expect when you get out of mortuary school. Some who have just graduated are thinking that you are not in the situation that you expected. Mortuary school is very good at presenting the sanitary side of things; you are able to escape the car washing and the smells that go along with the preparation area.

My advice would be to be prepared for anything when you get out of mortuary school. Realize that you have to pay your dues, so to speak. You may be the one who is having to wash the car. You may be the one who is having to make all the removals or work all the visitations. However, do not think that this is meaningless work. You are able to be in control of the reputation of your firm when you make the removal. You make the initial contact with the family on behalf of your firm?that is a great responsibility.

Don?t think that things are going to instantly change because you have graduated from school. You will have to gain the respect of your coworkers, and many times, your coworkers will make it very difficult. Never have a sense of entitlement. This is not looked upon very well by the others in the business and can make your life very difficult.

Also, don?t think that since you have graduated that you know everything. Actually, the learning is only about to begin. School cannot teach you to make a first call; you will learn that from your co-workers. You will learn different methods from different co-workers. You will see things that you like and things that you do not like. Form your own method. Take the things that you like from each person you learn under. You will create your own way.

Please do not think that you are going to get up every day, if you have been to bed that night, and love every minute of it. There are days that I really question if funeral service is where I should be. There are going to be families that are more difficult to deal with than others; there are some that will wrench your heart. Always remember that you are the one that has been trained to take care of their loved one. They have trusted you with the most important thing in their lives. Take that trust seriously. However, don?t let it get you down. You must find some release. Try to find some way to get funeral service off your mind when you are not working or on call.

Just remember that graduation is just the beginning. It is when the real learning is about to begin. You will be tested and tried. There will be those who are rough on you. Take it in stride. Don?t be too good to wash a car?you have to wash the Cadillac before you can drive it.