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A day in the life of a mortician

Embalming, funeral processions, unpredictable hours all part of the job

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Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2011 12:01 pm

 Dressed in business attire on a Wednesday morning, Ken Temrowski could easily be mistaken for a man embarking to an office job. After tending to his children, however, Temrowski will make a trip to Hurley Medical Center and arrive back home to start his day's work.

 As the funeral director of Temrowski Family Funeral Home in Fenton, Temrowski often makes trips to hospitals, medical examiners, nursing homes and even residential homes during odd hours. Maintaining a regular schedule is an impossible feat.

 "The hours are very unpredictable. It's the nature of the business," Temrowski said. "I'm called upon at any hour of the day, and normally there's no flexibility. I try to put my family first, but this isn't a business that always lets me do that."

 Becoming a funeral director was a natural decision for Temrowski, as he grew up in his father's funeral home. Temrowski vividly remembers maintaining the grounds and helping with funeral processions throughout his childhood. "It's just what my dad did," said Temrowski when he reflected on growing up in a funeral home with five siblings. "My kids are much the same, running around my funeral home. They know that our family is here to help other families."

 The spacious rooms and soft colors of Temrowski's house are welcoming, dispelling stereotypes of funeral homes. As any funeral director will tell you, the business of death is more about the living rather than the deceased.

 "The biggest misconception of my job is that I only deal with the deceased. Dealing with the family of the deceased is the biggest part of the job," Temrowski said.

 For Temrowski, helping bereaving families move beyond a terrible situation is the most satisfying aspect of the job. The toughest funeral processions involve children, the young or anyone that dies unexpectedly. Though Temrowski has seen an increase in cremations over the years, the importance of funeral processions hasn't changed.

 "I tell families to choose what they want for the disposition and to get together to support each other and remember the deceased," Temrowski said. "The crux of funeral services is keeping families moving in the right direction."

 When it comes to preparing the deceased, Temrowski usually works side by side with his wife, Becca, who is also a funeral director. The only time that Temrowski was uncomfortable with the deceased was during mortuary school, when he initially doubted his abilities at embalming.

 The embalming room itself is a tidy white room filled with scalpels, cosmetics and other tools of the trade. Funeral directors are usually the only ones in the room, which gives it an air of mystery to most people, said Temrowski.

 Although most funeral directors are following into a family business, Temrowski is not sure what draws people to the funeral business. His wife knew she wanted to be a funeral director at age 4. Those who are drawn to the profession take their roles very seriously and are dedicated to their work.

 "Every society needs someone to take care of the sick, the healthy and the injured. Every society needs someone to take care of the deceased, and that's exactly what I do," Temrowski said.


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