Sunday, January 6, 2008

An Introduction

Welcome to 'Death Becomes Her,' my blog that will capture all of the ups and downs of my journey to change careers from a high school English teacher to a funeral director. Going back to school at age 31 on the other side of the classroom and working in math/science/business areas rather than literary subjects promises to be very interesting.

The first question most everyone has asked as I've "come out" with my decision to become a funeral director is "WHY?"

My answer:
I've always been fascinated with death and feared it on a higher level than most people. I didn't go to a funeral until I was 24 years old. Once I started, though, I suddenly found myself going to a lot of them. Former students, current students, grandparents, friends of the family, parents of students...all told at the current time I've been to nearly 30 funerals in the last seven years.

Death, at least the idea of it, kept creeping into my fiction writing. Finally, when my grandma died in January of '05, I bit the bullet and asked the funeral director, Mark, to give me a tour of the place. I told him (and I believed this myself) that I was researching a story. I now realize that I was actually researching a career.

I put it out of my head until late 2006 when several events pulled together to push me in the direction of funeral directing:

1. I applied for the MFA program at the University of Minnesota and did not get in.

2. On a staff development day, we had to fill out a questionaire that asked the question "if you didn't teach, what other job would you want to have?" My answer: funeral director.

3. Pressure to get into a master's program finally reached a boiling point when I didn't get into the U of M. I looked at several schools and nothing seemed to fit right. Everything was a struggle.

4. A friend of my grandma died in the summer of 2007 and I went to her wake. Mark, the aforementioned funeral director, gave me some literature on the University of Minnesota's mortuary science program.

Once I made the decision to explore mortuary science, everything seemed to fall into place. The program is possible, affordable, and, after a few pre-requisite classes that I can take at Normandale Community College, totally doable.

That's the basic story of how I decided to go into mortuary science. There are, of course, a lot of feelings that I have on the subject of death care and funerals that aren't covered above, but I'll get into those.

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