With a delicate touch and a steady hand, the role of life practitioners in clinical care is to ensure a grieving family’s last memory of the departed is a good one. Having the departed dressed in their best isn’t only to see them off, but also to comfort the family.
Before each life is sent on their final journey, the assistance of a clinical care professional is generally required to make the departed’s last appearance presentable so that they may bid farewell to the world with dignity.
Ebby Cheong, who has been a clinical care professional at Xiao En Group for 11 years, recalls a time when she was at a low point in her life where she had thought about the meaning of life and had contemplated suicide. She then came across a report about a woman who found her life’s purpose by working as a makeup artist after trying to commit suicide. Empathizing with this woman, she decided to give it a chance and pursue the profession to see if she could find direction in life.
Having been in this profession for over a decade, Ebby has not become numb to her work. Witnessing the temporary nature of many lives made her cherish every moment of life more and to treat each case she comes across as an exercise to deal with the fact that one day, her parents will eventually pass on too.
“This is the reason why I insist on being a clinical care professional. I hope I can give back my accumulated blessings to my parents. In the future, before sending them to the other side, I can personally groom my parents and let them leave with dignity.”
In every case she has, Ebby handles them with empathy and respect for life.
“I hope I can do my best for the departed, so that they can look good, dress neatly, and walk the last journey of life with dignity. If I deal with the cases alone, I have a “dialogue” with the departed. For example, during a “meeting” a “non-cooperative” departed, when I encounter a complication whilst embalming or applying makeup that would take a long time to complete, I will say to the deceased, “If you cooperate with me, I’ll let you go to see your family looking beautiful. You don’t want them to wait!””
“I believe that the departed would “hear” and “cooperate” with me. On the other hand, during the process of “cleaning the body, changing clothes and putting on makeup”, I will also be gentle and careful not to cause “pain” to the departed. Because I think that if I apply force improperly or press too hard, the deceased will feel pain. If time permits, I will say goodbye to the departed on the day of his funeral, and I hope they will be satisfied with my service.”
Every now and then, Ebby encounters deeply touching moments when dealing with cases.
“I still remember a case I worked on, when I asked the departed’s daughter if she needed to shave her father’s beard, and the daughter told me how the beard needed to be trimmed. This reminds me of my own father. If faced with the same question, would I know what my father’s beard looks like? It turns out I didn’t know. I haven’t really paid attention to my father’s beard in my daily life. At that time, I was quite emotional, and tears fell. This job reminded me to be more observant and to pay attention to the people and things around me.”
The scope of work of clinical care professionals includes going to the location of the departed to receive and bring them back to the clinical care studio, and then perform embalming, cleansing, dressing, and make-up process. When not handling a case, they would be preparing a report and work record for each case. It can be said that the “finished product” of clinical care professionals is to present the final image of the deceased to the family members.
Working as a clinical care professional has made Ebby Cheong realize that life is short and should not be wasted. It showed her what it means to be filial to her parents and to cherish the time she spends with them.
“Although my parents didn’t object when I left my hometown and came to Xiao En to work in the funeral industry, they also wondered why I wanted to do this. They weren’t curious about my work. At that time, my father told me to come back to my hometown and find another job if I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t until I assisted in handling my uncle’s death that my father began to care about the nature of my work, and only then did he appreciate how important was the assistance of funeral personnel. After all, when a death happens, who would you look for to handle the funeral ceremony?”
Through the profession, Ebby gradually found positive energy in her life from her work and became a stronger person.
We thank clinical care professionals for their dedicated work in preserving nostalgic memories with their gentle touch. Every life that comes to them, treating them with dignity when meeting for the first time and saying their final goodbyes. What makes them successful isn’t only pure skill, it is also ingenuity and heart.
* Original article first appeared in PUMEN Magazine. Click Here
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