An interview with our Care Center Manager and Assistant General Manager, Joanna Ramirez:
– How long have you worked for O’Connor Mortuary?
I have been here at O’Connor since 2006.
– When did you first learn about embalming?
I first learned about embalming when I was in school and a guidance counselor passed a list of majors out to the class. I started looking into it and found all sorts of information on the history and present day of embalming.
– What made you think that embalming was something you might like to do professionally?
Growing up, I originally wanted to be a nurse but when I saw Mortuary Science on the list, I was intrigued. I have always enjoyed art and science and thought that embalming incorporated both of those aspects. I immediately fell in love with the idea of becoming an embalmer. I love the challenge and the responsibility of trying to make someone that I have never met into the person everyone remembers.
– What do people say to you when the find out what you do for a living?
Most peoples initial reaction to our profession is “Wow! You work with dead people?” or “You don’t look like you would work there”. It is always very interesting how people perceive us. They think I work in a dungeon and open people up and stuff them. When I get that type of reaction from people, I always like to elaborate on what I do. Not just the embalming parts but also the working with families. After conversing further with them, I find that their perception changes from thinking I am weird to having respect not only for what I do, but also for the mortuary profession that provides care for these hurting families.
I feel rewarded in different ways. As an embalmer, I always feel gratification when a family thanks me because their loved one looks better than when they were alive (these are mainly people who die of cancer or another illness). To hear that from a family is the ultimate compliment. Also, there is the reward felt from the families’ gratitude towards you. Doing everything possible to assist families through their most difficult time and just being there for them is fulfillment enough.
– What do you do off the clock to relax?
On my time off, I like to spend time with my family. Whether we are going to Palm Springs, The River, or just a good old fashion road, my husband and daughter always join me.
– How have you seen your work help and comfort families?
Most of the time it is from just simply listening to them. Some families want someone to talk to. Someone to be an ear and listen to how he or she is feeling, how much they miss their loved one or how extraordinary that person was. It is simple but it helps families so very much.
– If you could tell people 1 thing about your job, what would it be?
That I love my job and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.