The Grasp of Grief: How Mourning Doesn’t Always Stop, Come Sunrise
Molly Vargo- AS in Funeral Service – Student Success Story
We’ve all heard about grief, and not the “good grief!” that Lucy shouts at Charlie Brown. We may have heard about the stages of grief, how anger and denial are mixed in there somewhere, and we may have heard how the stages don’t necessarily go in sequential order. But until you have gone through it first-hand, grief is just another word that starts with G. Losing a loved one changes you— but not like when you momentarily lose your wallet and get frantic kind of change. When you lose someone that has influenced the essence of who you are, you may, for a moment, even lose a piece of yourself. “Real loss,” as the late Robin Williams so eloquently put it while sitting on a park bench in Good Will Hunting, “is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself.”
So what do people do, when that thing that happens to other people suddenly happens to them? What about the decisions and the deadlines, the picking up of the deceased’s body, the announcements, and the arrangements? Sometimes, grief can grasp so tightly that those in mourning need help getting out of bed— never mind picking out which walnut box would look best.To help with the difficulties of all the details, one of the first calls made immediately after the time of death is to the funeral home.
From there, it is the funeral service director’s responsibility to take the worry and weight off of grief-stricken survivors. Writing obituaries, overseeing personal wishes and worship, meeting with bereaved family members, preparing the site for viewing, administering grief counseling, and submitting death certificates are just some of the duties of a devoted funeral service director.
The above-mentioned accountabilities also happen to be the motivations behind students like Molly Vargo, navigating to the Funeral Service Program at Goodwin University. “I have always wanted a career where I could help people in some way,” Molly, a fan of classical music, soft jazz, and binging shows like Mad Men, began. “After the passing of a friend a few years ago, I realized funeral service was the right path for me because as a funeral director, you are the person taking in a grieving family and helping to lift some of the weight off of their shoulders. You are helping to take some of the pain away by memorializing their loved one and celebrating their life.”
Molly, originally from Milford, Connecticut, is currently a full-time student at Goodwin and is planning her internship at a funeral home in West Haven. “I enjoy the relationships I am building with fellow students,” Molly acknowledged. “There is a restaurant down the street from campus that we go to sometimes after class and hang out, talk, and grab a bite to eat. We study together before tests and share notes. We are able to connect, talk to each other, give each other advice, bounce ideas off of each other, and overall support each other.”
“Goodwin also has a lot of great resources to help students succeed,” Molly reassured, the most helpful to her being Goodwin’s Hoffman Family Library. “They have sculptures of the human body and microscope slides to study human biology.” Molly pressed on, “The library also has classes to help teach students APA format for papers. It’s a nice quiet place to go and do work or study for exams.”
When asked about the effectiveness of her instructors, Molly admiringly expressed, “Professors give us all the tools we need. They encourage us to work hard and make connections and meet other people that work in the industry. Our embalming class involves a lot of science and chemistry and in our business law class there can be a lot of terms to remember. Our teachers are able to break things down for us in a way that helps us understand the material better. I can confidently say my professors are the best I’ve ever had. They are there for their students whenever we need help or advice. They help to truly prepare us as funeral professionals.”
With the ultimate goal of becoming a licensed funeral director and embalmer, Molly also hopes to one day own a funeral home. “Being able to help a family process and cope with the loss makes it all worth it,” she explained. When asked how she deals with the topic of death on a daily basis, Molly illuminated her point of view: “While it can be sad and morbid, we see it as helping families who come to us for support in their darkest moments. We help bring the light back in.”
Interested in learning more? Visit https://www.goodwin.edu/funeralservice
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.