What made you want to work in a mortuary?
The job posting was advertised as working with cadavers. I knew what the word meant and thought it would be interesting. I was invited to attend a post-mortem and decided that this was the job for me. I felt comfortable in the environment and was interested in how the human body works.
What is the atmosphere like?
We try to keep the atmosphere upbeat in the mortuary. We talk about everyday issues and behave, I think, in the same way that most people who work in a small environment behave. We have established good working relationships with each other, our pathologists, undertakers, and bereavement services. Obviously, there are times that the atmosphere is not a nice one; this tends to happen if we get a tragic death, such as a child, or a horrific unexpected death such as a multiple road traffic accident.
How do you deal with those “bad” days?
Having the ability to be around these situations on a monthly basis does not make us less affected by these horrific events. Yes, we have an ability to “cope”, but we still feel, and dealing with the families of these events can make it more personal for us. As a team, it is important that we speak to each other and look after each other. There may be a situation that is too similar to an event in a technician’s personal life, so these cases would be dealt with a technician that is not as affected by the situation. It’s about teamwork.
How do you manage to have a “normal” life?
I am lucky that I have the support of very close family and friends. There are cases that I have been part of over the years that will always stick in my memory because of the tragedy of the case and the grief for the families involved. By seeing death every working day, it makes me realise how lucky I am to have what I have, and the time spent with my family, friends, and pets is important to me. I live a normal life outside of work, and do things most people do. I am lucky that I am able to separate work from home.
Why did you decide to write the book?
When I tell people what I do for a living, more often than not, a host of questions arrive. I was amazed at the interest of my job, and how people would want to know the workings of a mortuary but would not be able to do the job. People always say that I don’t look like someone who would work in a mortuary, and I wanted to get across the fact that I have a life outside of my job and I like to look attractive and have nice things, while letting people know what technicians deal with on a daily basis.