Kent County SUNDAY spoke with four professionals in behind-the-scenes fields to get a better idea of what they do and what makes the work worthwhile.
JUSTEN WRIGHT, Funeral director
House of Wright Mortuary & Cremation Services
11 years on the job
Justen Wright is no stranger to staying poised while trying to comfort grieving families. He’s worked as a funeral director at his family’s Smyrna-based funeral home over the last 11 years. His experience started well before that, working in his family’s business at age 4, handing out mints to funeral guests.
Q How did you get into this profession?
A It’s a family business. At a young age I used to see those who are my dad’s seniors, who were old enough to be his grandparents, would call him Mr. Wright. I used to wonder, what did he do [that was] so great that these people who were so much older than him would call him Mr. Wright? So at the age of 10, I wrote a letter in school when I was at P.S. DuPont [Middle School] stating that I was going to be a funeral director. I knew at a young age that this is what I wanted to do.
Q What do you enjoy most about your job?
A Helping people when they need it the most. Experiencing the passing of a loved one is never easy. But my job is to guide and help them through the process and subsequently, by the service we offer, kind of uplift them during a desolate moment.
Q What’s the toughest thing about your job?
A The emotional aspect of it. There are tragic passings – infants passing, or circumstances that put you in a situation when it’s like, “Wow.” If it’s a classmate and it’s their parent, it puts you in the mindset of, “This is reality. Maybe one day I might have to do this as well.” The business itself can be stressful at times.
Q What’s a misconception about your job or something that most people don’t know?
A People think our job is easy. And when they see a funeral, they think the actual service is just… you don’t do any work. They don’t see the behind the scenes, the planning, the preparation of the decedent, all of those aspects, the arrangement process, working with families on deadlines to actually make sure everything is on schedule. There’s a misconception that it’s easy. So subsequently you have a lot of people who want to go into the industry and think, “Hey, you know, I’m going to be a funeral director,” because they just see the presentation.