Joanne Ong, 24, Un­der­taker

CLEO (Singapore) - - CANMAKE SPECIAL -

This job re­ally puts things into per­spec­tive. Some­times, I won­der, what if it’s me on the ta­ble next?”

Tech­ni­cally, Joanne is an un­der­taker. But if you ask her, she’d tell you she’s an an­gel. A “Show­ers of Love” an­gel, that is.

The Life Cel­e­brant, the fu­neral home where Joanne works, spe­cialises in a ser­vice called Show­ers of Love – a process where fam­ily mem­bers of the de­ceased can help with the prepa­ra­tion of the body be­fore it’s placed in the cas­ket. Staff mem­bers like Joanne will be on hand to help with the wash­ing of their hair and body, and ap­ply­ing makeup.

The fa­cil­ity where they con­duct this ser­vice re­sem­bles a spa, and Joanne said that be­ing able to do one last thing for the de­ceased can be very ther­a­peu­tic for some fam­i­lies.

The 24­year­old un­der­stands just how im­por­tant this process can be. Her own mum passed away two years ago due to cancer, and one of her big­gest re­grets was not giv­ing her mum a bet­ter send­off.

“I didn’t know how to han­dle it. My mum didn’t tell me what she wanted, so I just googled for a fu­neral di­rec­tor and went with the top search re­sult,” Joanne re­counts. She re­mem­bers meet­ing the fu­neral di­rec­tor, and im­me­di­ately be­ing pre­sented with pack­ages and costs.

The last straw was when she saw her mum’s body af­ter the em­balm­ing process. She didn’t look like her­self, and was wear­ing the clothes she had worn to the hospital even though Joanne had handed them her mum’s favourite dress. When her fam­ily tried to get them to change it, they were told that noth­ing could be done.

“No­body else should go through what I did,” says Joanne, ‡irmly.

That same year, some­one Joanne knew told her to try for a job at The Life Cel­e­brant, and the rest is his­tory.

One of her most mem­o­rable cases in­volved a fam­ily who had lost their mum, as their youngest daugh­ter was around Joanne’s age when she has gone through the same thing.

On the last day of the fu­neral, the youngest daugh­ter broke down un­con­trol­lably. Joanne no­ticed she had been fold­ing pa­per cranes at the wake, so she helped her to dec­o­rate the cas­ket with them.

“This job re­ally puts things into per­spec­tive. Some­times, I won­der, what if it’s me on the ta­ble next? What if it’s my dad send­ing me off ? What if it’s some­one I know?”

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