I recently came across this written piece that was a requirement for a career opportunity back in 2002. I was asked to put into writing what I deemed “my greatest accomplishment”. Here it is:
When I began working in the funeral home some four years ago I had no idea what I would gain from my experiences there. My seemingly irrelevant life was ultimately changed for the better. I had stepped into the role of a caregiver- serving my friends, neighbors and family.
With this role came daily lessons and responsibilities, not only to the funeral home and the families it served but also to myself. Sure I could slide through day-to-day doing just what I had to get by, but my conscience wouldn’t let me. I was determined to get as much out of my career as I put into it. So like a golden retriever to its master I stood by the families and persons we served.
I embalmed my neighbors and assisted in planning their funerals. And I gained more satisfaction from helping them that anything I had ever experienced. With each death brought a different family, a different situation, and a new lesson.
I learned how to support, rely and depend upon my coworkers. It was important to work together in order for things to go smoothly. Someone once said “Your car may run perfectly but it won’t be a comfortable ride if the tires are flat”. Also I learned to better communicate with the public and my peers. Talking to people and most of all listening to them taught me more about people than any one thing. As you open yourself up and converse with people they will open up to you like a book. The pages turn and you can realize who a person really is and what they want and need as well as make them feel more comfortable; in turn you are able to offer them proper care and guidance.
A truth I have come to understand is when you show kindness, care and respect to another person whether along the street or in the funeral home, it makes them feel better and more at ease. Showing this care will in turn award you the same feelings. Knowing you have done all you can for someone is the reward you give yourself.
Ultimately I was also able to notice and begin to understand my own mortality through others loss. Deaths and funerals have taught me to realize what a gift we all have been given. It is only up to the individual whether he or she peels back the wrapping paper and sees this great gift for all its wonder, or just sticks it back in the box and take it all for granted. Life is precious and should be lived with great exuberance.
Caring for others at the time of a death has given me countless lessons for life. I have been able to give unto others and to recieve such rewards from those actions. I have learned the values of teamwork, communication, and selflessness, realizing how to live with my own mortality and the mortality of those around me. I feel the accomlishment I am most proud of would be the decision to become a caregiver – serving my friends, neighbors, and family.
I got that job. A special thanks to all of those families and coworkers who have taught me so much, I will never forget you.