Sweets Lawrence: A mortician's life
ID your careerSunday, October 24, 2010
BY AINSWORTH MORRIS Career & Education writer email@example.com
IN Jamaica, one of the most financially rewarding careers is that of a mortician -- a person who prepares a body for burial and directs funeral arrangements. But despite the financial reward, many Jamaicans will not venture into this field because of a fear of the macabre.
For Sweets Lawrence, 26-year-old proprietor and mortician at Garden of Paradise Funeral Home, being a mortician is just as great a career choice as the average job that other persons get excited about.
Unlike most children, Lawrence said at the tender age of 10 she had high hopes of becoming a mortician. Although many tried to kill her dream, their words did not matter. She was determined to have her lifelong dream of giving final care to the human body, fulfilled.
"Others tried to change my direction. But not even my mother, who paid for me to become a flight attendant, could stop me from pursuing this dream," she told Career & Education from her office in downtown, Kingston.
Immediately after completing her secondary schooling at Mona High School, with more than a dose of determination, Lawrence sought apprenticeship in a funeral home. Since then, she has passed through six funeral homes and has been in the business for the past ten years. After her only sister Francine Dillon died from cancer, she decided to register and open doors to her own funeral home. Lawrence said her mother, who endlessly tried to stir her direction, is now her biggest supporter.
She wants to make it clear that becoming a mortician is not a career field anyone can jump into. She advises that those who are interested, should brace themselves and seek advice and experience from other morticians who are in the business.
Lawrence, who was recently accepted to attend the American Academy McAllister Institute of Mortuary Science to begin tertiary training, explains her career field.
Who is a mortician?
I would describe a mortician as someone who prepares deceased individuals for burial. They professionally plan funerals and packages for the family of a deceased. Morticians also act as mangers, as most times they manage the operations within funeral homes.
What is the value of the work that you do?
I value my work deeply. I am the person who many have come to, to grant them relief in their time of grief.
What are the skills or competencies required for your field?
You have to be a graduate of a high school, possess a high school diploma along with a minimum of six subjects inclusive of a science subject. Being a funeral director in Jamaica is not an hard task and one doesn't really have to begin with a skill. The main skill that I would say one has to have, is to know when to have composure. To become a mortician, you have to be a strong person mentally, physically and emotionally. Over time, if you are passionate about this career field, you will be just fine.
What prompted your entry into the field?
I have always been fascinated about morgues since I was 10 years old. I told my mother then that I wanted to deal with dead people. My mother also worked at a hospital when I was a child and I was so fascinated with the morgue there.
What is a typical day like for you?
I would say, I spend my typical day helping a family to lessen their burden of grief. Other than that, I make phone calls, spend time planning and answer any questions customers might have.
What are the challenges that you face on the job?
To me, there are no real challenges because I have a passion for what I do.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I enjoy offering comfort to those in grief and preparing the deceased persons for their funerals.
Trained as a mortician, what employment options are open to you?
The employment options that are opened to me vary. I am mainly equipped with knowledge to work within any field at funeral homes.
How much can one earn as a mortician annually?
Financial earnings from this business depends mainly on the amount of work and the services that is offered. So the income of a mortician is mostly commission based. There are other rewards but the best reward to me is knowing that a family is satisfied.
Why would you advise someone to become a mortician?
Because being a mortician is an exciting career field. I would advise those who wish to become a morticians, to seek apprenticeship within a registered funeral home. Not everyone is cut out for this line of work, but helping a family to get through the death of a loved one satisfies me. My ultimate advice though, is, if you have the strength for it, then go for it.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login