The five things we learnt from launching our careers in the cemetery industry

01 March 2022

Industry experience students, Saredo and Madi.

Your first job is always memorable, from that first interview - nervously hoping you are making a good impression - to adjusting to your very first day. Beginning your career in the cemetery industry is a particularly unique experience offering interesting lessons and insights. As we come to the end of our 12-month industry experience, we thought we would share the lessons we gained from our very first roles, in this unique and fascinating industry.

1. It is not about doom and gloom

When people hear the word 'cemetery' the association is inherently gloomy because of the relation to loss and grief. It is understandable to assume that work at a cemetery could be the same, however, day-to-day work is no different at a cemetery than in any other industry. We take pride in our work, we collaborate, we share ideas, and we laugh. We come in each day and do our best to support people who need it the most. It is fulfilling, thought-provoking, and emotionally investing work, but it is never gloomy.

2. Connecting with empathy

Working at a cemetery is a lesson in empathy. Grieving is a complicated and personal topic and is a different experience for everyone. Working in this industry, you learn about the importance of communicating in a warm, compassionate and honest way, and the impact it has. You learn that the right words make a difference.

3. Community is everything

Working for a non-profit organisation like Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, it becomes quickly apparent that community care is the focal point of our work. With every task we undertook, we would ask ourselves, 'Who is this supporting?' and 'How we can best serve and benefit the community?' Through every task, we could truly see the difference our work was making and the very real impact it has on people at such a critical point in their lives.

4. It's all about families

Cemeteries are just as much about providing the best possible care for those who have passed as they are about families in our community. We provide beautiful facilities for community connection; support programs for those who are grieving; natural and peaceful spaces for exercise or reflection; annual events to allow for continued honouring of loved ones; and amazing café facilities to grab a coffee with a friend or family member. There is so much life and activity, and this can come as a surprise. As we often say, 'We are here for the living.'

5. The role of cemeteries is evolving

The pandemic has changed so much about the world, and our search for new walking spaces close to home, and ways to exercise and enjoy public places have seen cemeteries gaining a new spotlight. As public spaces with beautiful gardens, historical landmarks to explore and a deep emotional significance, cemeteries are being rediscovered for many things, including reflection, art, photography and connection. It will be exciting to see what the future holds in this industry and how we will continue to evolve.

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