Week three in the mortuary is complete, and it’s been eventful. For a brilliant start, this blog hit 850 views and that is so incredible. Thank you so very much for reading, following and supporting me. In other news, this week had me attending Corporate Induction at the hospital, doing numerous online courses, and some systems training too. It was very strange leaving the relative calm of the mortuary and our small team, to go and sit in a room full of 105 people. I was grateful that the induction didn’t start with the usual ‘tell us your name and an interesting fact about yourself’ with that number of people, but it did contain a lot of very interesting information about the hospital trust and the hard work they have been doing. It made me more excited to be working with this trust, and help in their cause to become an outstanding hospital. The online courses were a necessary hardship I struggled through for what seemed like hours (it probably was to be fair) and saw me taking breaks to do things like empty the bins or restock glove boxes. Glad that it’s all done for a while!
One thing that really stood out for me in this training was the emphasis on empathising and thinking about the people around you. We were told to always imagine you are stood in other people’s shoes and experiencing what they are experiencing. They also said that you can never know what all the people you walk past in a hospital are going through. They might have just had a baby, or been told they are clear of their illness, but they might also have just lost someone or been told some bad news. I have been an advocate of being kind to everyone for a long time, just because someone smiles on the outside does not mean they are not going through something completely unenviable elsewhere in their life.
This is hugely important to remember while working in the mortuary. We will often speak to and meet people at some of the hardest points of their life. Whether this means answering the phone to someone wanting to visit a relative recently deceased, or meeting them when they come to visit, it is important that the mortuary staff are sympathetic, understanding and, at all times, respectful to those we meet. I am yet to start greeting and helping the visitors from the public to the mortuary and I haven’t yet answered the phone to a relative either. I have answered the phone, but usually to either wrong numbers or funeral directors, much to my relief. I’ve stressed and worried a great deal about what to say to people and I’ve asked my colleagues for advice, but they just tell me that they can’t tell me what to say; that in the moment you find the right words. I’m just terrified I won’t.
I realise that in the end, it will just be a case of being confronted with these situations that will give me the confidence that I can do this, and deep down I am perfectly capable of doing this. You might have seen on Twitter that my face is now with the other team members on the poster on the wall for everyone to see as they enter the mortuary. I am so proud to be part of this team and to have worked my way to be here. Slowly but surely I am determined to and will become efficient and confident in what I am doing here.
On that note, I have been discussing with my manager the possibility of arranging a Death Cafe. For those who don’t know, a Death Cafe is basically arranging a safe space for those to discuss death while drinking tea and, usually, eating cake. They are not intended to be a bereavement service, or grief counselling, but to discuss some of the questions people have or topics people are curious about around death in an open way. In the same vein as the Death Positivity movement I wrote about previously, the intention is to talk more openly about death to lessen the taboo and to make us all enjoy our lives a little more. We don’t have any idea about how or when we will be doing this yet, I have read the guide and plan on attending another Death Cafe in November to find out more. However, if you think this is something you would be interested in attending please do get in contact either on here, or via social media. I would love to hear from you!
Before I sign off, Wednesday this week I went to see one of my musical heroes Gary Numan live and it was simply amazing. I’ve included a photo I took on the night above, and the main title of this article come from his song Are ‘Friends’ Electric; it seemed appropriate thinking about my own doubts of my capabilities, and also around the possible stigma of attending an event like a Death Cafe.
It should go without saying by now, but please do like, share, comment and get in contact if you have anything you would like to discuss.