By Gary Hass
“The funeral business is a lot different than you think,” says 23-year-old Catherine Jaworski, a 2009 Graduate of Union 32 High School. “But I absolutely love it!”
She is the daughter of John Jaworski of Barre and Elizabeth Copeland of Berlin and is a Vermont certified Embalmer and Funeral Home Director working at Hooker Whitcomb Funeral and Cremation Services in Barre since December.
In Vermont it is a little unusual to see a woman, especially a young woman, going into the mortuary field. But Jaworski has young friends also in the field in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts where she went to college and did post-graduate and intern work.
“If I have any questions, I can bounce ideas off of them” notes Jaworski, who returned to central Vermont last December. “And everyone here has been very helpful and willing to work with me.”
Jaworski went to Nichols College in Dudley, MA where she pursued a double major in Business Administration and Criminal Justice. In her junior year, she had an opportunity to meet a nearby funeral director in Connecticut. A one-hour interview turned into a full day learning experience. When asked if she would like to see an embalming, she said absolutely! “I had always been curious how it worked and it was so different than what you would think. Just fascinating!”
After graduation, Jaworski enrolled in a mortuary science program at Mount Ida College in Newton, MA. It required a lot of biology and physiology courses and she had to know what every bone and muscle in the human body does.
“Going into the mortuary field I got a chance to use my interest in business administration and even to some degree criminal justice” she said. “It was everything I wanted to do in one job. I see each client as a unique person and try to make them appear as they did on a daily basis. Their expression should be pleasant.”
Mortuary work may be seen morbid to some, but for Jaworski it seems like a natural process. Although relatively new to the field, she has already worked with very young children to the very old.
“You get to know each person through helping their families. I understand that everyone is different, and it is important to customize a funeral that reflects their life. My number one goal is to make this process as easy as possible,” Jaworski said.
One of the most challenging aspects of this profession is the 24/7 work schedule.
“You always have to be ready if you get the call in the middle of the night to pick up a deceased body. Then the whole process begins,” she said. “To most, this (mortuary) is a field of the unknown. It’s very private. There are lots of questions but believe me, it’s not creepy or scary. It’s a small tight knit world and a very unique profession. I am always here to answer questions anyone may have.”
Jaworski admits that when she tells people what she does, it’s usually, at first, a “conversation stopper, but when curiosity strikes, they come back later with questions about the process.”
It was perfect timing for Jaworski to come back to central Vermont as Hooker Whitcomb needed a replacement for Larry Pryor, who was retiring.
“I’m really glad to be working at a family-owned and operated home as opposed to a franchise system,” she said. “It’s very comfortable here and great to be with my family and friends.”
For more information, call 476-3243 or go to www.HookerWhitcomb.com.
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