Sun, Aug 25, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Students’ morgue job teaches lessons on life’s ‘last mile’

By Lai Hsiao-tung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Two university students volunteered to work at the New Taipei City Funeral Parlor over the summer, saying that they hoped to learn more about the trade and offer sincere services to the deceased and their kin.

Lin Yu-min (林育民) and Chien Hao-ching (簡昊靚) are students in the Department of Thanatology and Health Counseling at the National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Not given to superstition, the students said that they were not afraid, but wanted to do everything in their power to help bereaved families.

Lin said he wanted to become a mortician since his grandmother passed away.

“I saw the mortician help arrange the body and organize the funeral service, and I was moved and grateful,” Lin said.

To realize his dreams, Lin chose to study mortuary science at his university and has passed the exams to earn the second and third-level certificates to work in funerary services.

Over the summer, Lin and Chien interned at a funeral parlor as assistants and helped with multiple burials, including eco-burials outside of cemeteries, burials at sea, collective memorial services — one memorial service for multiple parties — as well as driving the body back to the funeral parlor in a hearse.

Chien said that he learned a lot as an intern that textbooks and classes had not given him, such as the types of services provided by the city government, the counseling that funeral directors provide to family members, how to manage a business and all the steps for the various services.

Lin said that he would never forget the image of an elderly woman at a collective burial at sea in New Taipei City who cried all the way from the memorial service to the ship and the scattering of the ashes at sea.

“She kept looking back toward the sea and waving her hand,” Lin said.

Assisting the deceased in completing the “last mile” of their life with dignity was meaningful, Lin said, adding that the experience only cemented his resolve to pursue the career.

University dean Hsieh Nan-chen (謝楠楨) said that the department teaches courses on emotional counseling, life and death, suicide prevention and funerary services.

The city government has been collaborating with the university since last year, arranging internships for university students at the funeral parlor last year and this year, Funeral Services Management Office director Huang Hsiu-chuan (黃秀川) said.

“We encourage more young people to join the industry, to bring their enthusiasm and new ideas,” Huang said.

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