Ann Mwangangi is a top female mortician in Kenya who has been working in the funeral service for over five years. She realised funeral service was the right career path for her after her mother’s death.
One of the roles of morticians is to take in a grieving family and help to lift some of the weight off their shoulders. As for Mwangangi, she did not have someone to help her in the grieving period, which made her stuck in denial of the death of her mother for a very long time.
“I lost my mother when I was in form two, and I did not grieve her death in the right way. I would have liked it if someone had held my hand and taken me through the mourning and transition process. So I decided to become a mortician to help someone else transition through grief,” said Mwangangi in an interview with local radio.
Mwangangi, who secured a course in Mortury science, expressed her passion for the industry that is usually surrounded by numerous misconceptions.
She said it was initially uncomfortable for her to handle dead bodies due to the smell, which denied her appetite. The smell is usually brought in by the different types of bodies coming in, as some are usually fresh, with others that have stayed for a long time.
She, however, expressed confidence that she gives the best service to every cadaver coming her way. In addition, Mwangangi revealed that sometimes the situation becomes tough for her, but she manages to carry on.
“We sometimes get overwhelmed, and at times break down with the mourning family because they are also human,” she revealed.
The biggest role in preserving the dead entails treating the cadaver with special chemicals to prevent decomposition. As such, they first confirm the person’s cause of death so as to employ extra safety measures when handling victims of diseases such as Tuberculosis, HIV, among others.
According to Mwangangi, the biggest challenge in her profession is stigma from members of the public, adding that they try to end all the misconception people have about morgues by offering top-notch services.
“People still have the notion that to work in a morgue, one has to be on drugs, or you are not 100 per cent normal, or you don’t have an alternative to live,” she said.
“People speculate a lot, but I try to kill the misconception so that people will not be shocked when their children say they want to read mortician science,” she added.
About preserving dead bodies that occurred after an accident or brutal murder, she revealed that they do body reconstruction to protect the affected family from being traumatised when viewing the body of their loved ones. Mwangangi also revealed her distressing moment in her profession is seeing dead children, which she says she doesn’t like handling.
‘Seeing a mother handing you over a child is a lot,’’ she said
She termed her job as a calling that she is proud and shameless about.
“This kind of a job is a calling. Some can do it while others can’t, and we stand in the space of those who can’t do it,” added Mwangangi.