The Google Search That Led Jasmine Cameron To A Job In The Funeral Industry
While plenty of nine-to-fivers might complain about hating their jobs, dreaming of a big career change -- not many would consider embracing a role in a workplace that's constantly surrounded by death.
While Jasmine Cameron, 28, had been curious about the funeral industry as a child, it's not usually a career path many people end up following -- unless they're joining an existing family business.
Jasmine ended up working in the film and television industry, followed by a gig managing stand up comedians. But she couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't in the right place.
"I ended up in a nine-to-five job and I was so unhappy and I felt so directionless," Jasmine told 10 daily.
"I think there was a moment sitting behind my desk in that job where I suddenly was like, just randomly, decided to Google, 'Get me out of here, what am I doing with my life?' and then ‘funeral jobs in Sydney'."
It was by total chance that she found a job at Walter Carter in Sydney's eastern suburbs, a funeral home that's been run by five generations of the same family since the 1870s.
Although it might not seem as though working in comedy would prepare anyone for working around death, Jasmine explained that the two industries are more similar than you'd think.
"It was a strangely logical step. Laughing is a heightened emotion [like grief] and it helps with this job because people still aren’t sure if they’re allowed to incorporate humour, and it’s one of the best coping mechanisms that I’ve seen," she explained.
I know that comic relief is a real thing and it can be such a relief to laugh again and suddenly realise that you haven’t for a while.
In stark contrast to working a desk job, Jasmine's role as a funeral director has proven to be anything but monotonous, calling on her skills as a confidant, counsellor, problem solver and, occasionally, violinist.
"Typical days don’t come by much," she told 10 daily. "First thing’s first, we start really early in the morning because most people don’t expect business hours to start til about nine, so that gives us some time to catch up."
"All the funeral directors brief each other on our latest arrangements so we can start to get an idea on what the schedule’s looking like for the week ahead."
The directors have to get through a mountain of paperwork registering deaths, cremation, burials and medical papers.
"As you can imagine, it’s not something you can get wrong. There’s a lot of different paperwork involved from a lot of different bodies -- and when I say bodies, I mean like official bodies not… well, both actually!" she laughed.
Jasmine will then spend some of her day counselling families through their planned arrangement and walking them through the details of their loved one's ceremony.
"I’ve got a funeral that’s come about in very tragic circumstances coming up with someone who was far too young," she told 10 daily.
Last thing at night and first thing in the morning can be the hardest time for families so that’s when they’ll call and just need to talk over the steps, even if it’s just repeating ourselves.
Jasmine will usually direct between three to five funerals per week but will also step in as a pallbearer or assistant for her colleagues where needed. While she's passionate about the work she does, being around death constantly can result in "grief fatigue" and burnout is reportedly common in the industry.
"We pour ourselves into every funeral, regardless of the circumstances. Then there are certain ones that resonate a bit more or just because of the level of involvement, it might take a bit more of an emotional toll on you," she said.
She's also careful not to bring too much of that emotional toll back home to her partner because she understands there are sensitive topics she's become used to at work that might disturb the average person.
"I’d known him long before I worked in funerals. The benefit of that is he’s watched that transition but now living with him and him working in comedy and me working in death, I have to be mindful of not taking the job home," Jasmine told 10 daily.
"I don’t overburden him with things he’s not used to, it can be very depressing! Especially for the average person who doesn’t do this for a job and some stuff he doesn’t need to know or doesn’t want to know."
READ MORE: Why Can’t We Tell The Truth At Funerals?
Even though the job can be "very depressing", Jasmine has no plans to change careers again, referring to the job as a calling that she can't turn her back on.
"I can’t imagine working in any other industry. I don’t know if I’ll always be in this particular role as funeral director," she said, explaining she's keen to finish her degree in forensics.
"It’s such a calling and once you find it, you just think that it would almost be a disservice to let it go."
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