Bright Future Ahead: Inquiring Young Minds Ask Great Questions

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Is it hard to deal with death every day? What do you find rewarding about your profession? How much do funerals cost? Do you bring your own clothes? These and about 30 more questions were offered by close to 450 of Montgomery High School’s students last week in their Health Science Symposium.

I’d been invited as a guest speaker to talk on what a funeral director does, and I was happy to share my experiences. It was great to see all the young people who had a true interest in what we do! The presentation was informal, with plenty of time for their questions. And they had lots of questions!

These students are preparing for their futures in health fields, studying advanced chemistry, biology, physics, health and math. That’s exactly what they’ll need should they want to enter the field of mortuary science. We also talked about all the different kinds of jobs available to young professionals in our field—everything from marketing to creative design, to communications, to family support. Every job is important; it takes all of us at Callaway-Jones sharing our talents to make our team strong.

We also had a good technical discussion, with great questions. That made me realize that everyone has the same questions, high school students and adults. That’s what we are here for—to answer every question you have about the process.

It also gave me cause to share with the students that preplanning is the best way to approach end-of-life matters, stating clearly what you prefer helps your loved ones know what to do. Many of our “greatest generation” senior citizens are so good about having everything in writing, arranging things in advance, leaving no questions for family to resolve later. Many of the Montgomery HS health science students will choose Texas A&M for college. Maybe some of them will work for us as they go through school!

These students enrolled in the Health Science studies area are amazing. It makes you feel good to see the next generation ready to prepare, still with many years of study still ahead, for their futures.

I loved being there because they asked so many great questions. They were curious about the smells that come about with the embalming process. Everyone who’s had a science course probably knows how formaldehyde smells, but you definitely get used to it. I was able to explain the embalming process and take them through all the steps. I also mentioned that some faiths do not wish to have embalming as part of their religious practices.

I talked about some of the courses I studied at the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Science in Houston. They will need Biology, Chemistry, and an anatomy class would be helpful in preparing to take Microbiology and Thanatology, along with Embalming. We have studies in Forensic Pathology (for anyone who would like to be a medical examiner or forensic psychologist and pathologist, e.g., Abby Sciuto of “NCIS.”

There are also courses we take in Mortuary Administration, Accounting, and Business Law for the administrative side of the business. Classes in Mortuary Law, Restorative Art and Sociology of Funeral Science are also part of our curriculum. Although we do not claim to be professional grief counselors, we do study counseling and learn to understand the dynamics of grief. Licensing and credentialing are important.

I also talked about the importance of Continuing Education. I told them about the National Funeral Directors Association Conference last month where we discussed the latest information in the field. As professionals, just as when you are students, we never stop learning. There’s always someone we can learn from, young and old alike.

Students also wanted to know what the best and worst things were in my job. I shared that bringing comfort to people who have lost ones is one of the best feelings you can have. Also, the fact that people you know and care about as extended family have lost their loved ones impacts you personally as well. We feel your loss and do our best to ease your pain. That’s one of the challenges we face every day.

I was really impressed with the facilities that the students have at Montgomery High School. Theirs is a town that continues to grow very quickly, and I have very high expectations for the students who will be completing their academic career there with a focus on health sciences. The attitude of these students was dedicated and determined, and I feel really great about our future generation when I see how they are approaching their futures this early in their lives.

Special thanks to all the Health Science teachers at Montgomery High School for their invitation. It was a pleasure to be part of your Symposium.

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