Hi everyone, welcome back to our podcast, an especial welcome to all our new listeners. As world events continue to swirl around us, it’s always nice to take a break and listen to something that interests, intrigues, fascinates you, or even scares you a wee bit, maybe.
Today’s episode is one I have wanted to do ever since I decided that I was going to create a podcast that covered the Shadowlands regions. I have long thought that those in this profession would have some interesting stories that they could tell us about the people they work with and see on a day to day basis. But, was never able find such a guest, who would be willing to talk about their experiences. Until I met Karina.
I first met Karina, when she joined my FB group, Walking the Shadowlands, from which this podcast evolved. She joined the group to share some experiences that she and Dean were having in their home. It was when I got to talking with her, that she told me what field of work her husband was it. Immediately I was so excited, and I asked Karina, if she thought that Dean would be interested and willing to talk with me and share with us all his experiences in his profession. So I waited with baited breath for Karina to get back to me with the yay or nay. Obviously it was the former and I am very happy about that.
Dean & Karina Weber
Today’s guests are two people, that work in the realms of new life, and of death – no exaggeration there, Dean being an undertaker, and his wife Karina, being a midwife. Both ends of the life spectrums wouldn’t you say? But the question as always is, are you willing to walk with me into this part of the shadowlands, this time the part between life and death. And see what awaits us there? Then let’s begin.
Dean was originally from Iowa, in the USA, but has had citizenship in New Zealand now, for over a decade. He went to university in the USA, but during his time there changed his field of study, and his degree, to that of mortuary science. Very few morticians in NZ having a degree in this area. He and business partners have just recently opened a funeral home in Warkworth, a beautiful area, north of Auckland, here in New Zealand. Karina was born and raised in New Zealand, between them they are the parents of two beautiful children, and Karina continues to work as a midwife, as well as co-parenting their family. I would like to introduce my guests Karina and Dean Weber.
I guess as far as professionally, I’ve been doing funeral directing, embalming, and looking after families and deceased for twenty-five years, both in the United States and in New Zealand. So I’ve seen quite a cultural cross-section of humanity, and religion, and spirituality. Aside from my professional work, I’m just an ordinary average person.
I have a family and enjoy doing the same things as everybody else and I always sort of explain myself to my client families that I’m, I’m just, I’m a real person just like you. I’m, you know, I’m no different. I am not a wealthy individual that sits in a tower and looks down on people, and makes judgments. I’m a real person.
I’ve got a pile of questions written here, that I was thinking about asking you. I remember Karina saying that she witnessed some of the things that you saw, or that you experienced.
Yeah, some of the stuff in this particular house. Yeah, she’s been, experienced too as well. And then, when we finally brought them up and said something to each other, it was like you too eh? And seeing them, or feeling them. But she’s, she’s very excited to talk to you. She doesn’t want to miss anything.
No, no. When I first started this podcast, my intention from the get go was to find somebody who worked in the funeral business, who would be willing to talk about their experiences. So when Katrina told me what you did I was so excited I immediately jumped and said, do you think he would? Do you think he would talk?
Oh yeah yeah. Oh I’m, you know, I’m happy to tell everybody anything that I can about what I do, and sort of remove the black blanket of funeral work and everything about it. I’ve done radio interviews, the only one I haven’t done is TV, so this is cool. I’ve always been open to public speaking at groups, and clubs, and different events, and things sort of trying to just….
Demystify what people think they know is what’s happening, and what really sort of happens.
Awesome, so well perhaps before Karina comes, I’ll ask you some of the questions that I have. That are – like that end of the thing, before we get into the supernatural side. So the questions I have are these. What made you into this line of work to begin with?
I came from the states, so going to university from where I grew up was just, it was a natural, it was a natural progression for me. It was going to happen. I enjoyed the diversity of university and I enjoyed the physical and the life sciences. So, I was headed right down the path to be a doctor. And, I didn’t think I could get myself to stitch people, in what I felt was like inflicting pain at any stage, or stick sick people. So, I started guiding down the line of, of pathology and got to the point where I was starting to have to really consider my future, as it was a big commitment the next part of the education, and I got to look further into it. The program of being a pathologist and the commitment, and as I don’t know if this is for me. It was a lot of science. A lot of math. A lot of, you know, real technical things. I’m an absolute people person I talk, I talk, talk, talk, talk.
And I had a two-week gap at university and I went home. And I really didn’t know what I was going to do, and my mom sort of suggested talking, to a friend of mine’s dad who was the funeral director in my hometown. I’d been doing anatomy courses, and cadaver classes, and in everything in the lead up. And gave them a call. And they let me hang out for two weeks at a funeral home. And saw my first embalming, and I was , yeah this is this is, this is me! Sat in on a couple of arrangements and realized that there is no big methodology book that you have to learn. It’s just be you. Just be you and be open, and listen. And then it just happens. So I was like, I think I can do this. I can do this. These guys okay. They get paid all right.
So I went back to it. I went back to university changed my degree and I finished my degree. I have a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science. Yes, for New Zealand, I’m a rare one. So yeah. So that’s how I got, I got into it, was just sort of a fluke. It, sort of found me. And then yeah, it just started finished up university. Finished my degree. Passed all the exams, and went and found a job. And started working at a really busy Funeral Home in the states, and in Iowa.
I lived in the States, in North Carolina. A little town called Waxhaw, out of Charlotte. I’m not sure which direction it was, but it was out of Charlotte, and I attended a couple of funerals while I lived in the States. And it’s so vastly different to New Zealand’s way of doing things. It’s like a – I, I kind of felt like it was like a factory almost. You know like that? They had different rooms for the different funerals, and it wasn’t more intimate, like it is here in New Zealand.
Yeah, yeah. You were, you were just outside of a major city. So that’s yeah, that’s a lot of people to look after. And yeah, I came from Iowa which is right smack in the middle, and not a lot of cities. But, we have a lot of small towns in it. We had nine facilities to look after, and we had three funeral directors doing 450 calls. So we were moving constantly, constantly.
Wow, that would have been really busy! My next question I had was did you have to train? Well you already answered that. And you answered the third question. So the next question that I have is, how do you cope with dealing with the grief, and the pain of the families that, of the family members? How do you deal with that on a personal level?
I’ve found I’ve never really had a problem with it. A lot of people make that same question, and that same comment. I sort of see it as that’s, that’s your grief, and that’s your hurt. And, I see myself as a crutch, to help you get to a better place leaving me, than when you came. I put in a hundred and ten percent of my time, myself, my soul, mine my creativity, my everything, for everyone just to help you get to – Just to help you take the next step. Just be a, being better prepared for it.
I don’t really – when I have a loss in my own life, it hurts. It hurts just like anybody else. But, over time I’ve managed to realize that my position in this whole process, for other people, is a professional aspect. Not a personal aspect. I do hold your hand. I do give you a hug and I’m there for you the whole way. But, I do let go of your hand at the end, and hopefully see you. Yeah. Move along as a better position.
Right. I totally understand that, because, I was a nurse for close to – many years, many decades. And I do have to say though, that there were times when patients really hit home. And, I cried with them. And I’m not ashamed to say that I cried with them. And, I’m sure that for you there must’ve been occasions where some cases particularly, perhaps with children? That really hit a chord with you?
Many, many. I cry easy. My, my – yeah i cry easier. I cry often with people. I really I really feel for some people, and you can really see that there’s a love that is lost from some people. How I moved from that though, I guess is, that I feel proud and the fact that I see them at some stage smile at the end. And I, I feel that something I did was right. It was a hard week. You know being in and around it.
Yeah like you said, children, babies, especially suicides. They, they all do it. I just I, I’d still just get shook with all of, all of those. No matter how old, or what event, or how it leads up. It’s still they just – maybe it’s, because, they almost have the feeling, and we’ll probably get into that later.
The feeling that they’re not supposed to be here. You know? They’re not supposed to be with me, and they are. And it really when you’re working with, like, you know I came from a place that was a small group of us. There was six of us working together and when when something like that would come in – like a call. That would sort of rock the boat a bit. It rocked all of us because they’re looking after the person that’s on the front line. That is their colleague. And so you do have, I do have an amazing support team of friends and colleagues and family that look after my own sort of emotional and physical health.
I was wondering how – I was kind of tending to think that you had to have some sort of support system, for when things got on top of you. And, they do inevitably, no matter how professional you are. There’s always that one occasion where it creeps in, and then you need to talk it out with somebody.
Karina: Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you too.
Yeah. The my, my funeral home is I’ve I’ve just opened one. Today’s day four.
Yeah. Karina was saying. How exciting is that? Whereabouts are you based? Are you in Auckland or?
We’re north of Auckland, and Warkworth.
Warkworth? Oh I had a sister that lived up there for years.
Yeah, yeah. Okay so when did you? When did you come to New Zealand initially? What made you come to New Zealand?
Yes, I was explaining to you where I come from, that we were quite a multi-facility place. Really busy. Not a lot of people. Very stereotypical of a funeral home. Understaffed, overworked, burned out. It’s a natural progression. I remember after I was there for about eight years, it was winter. So that’s nine sets of sidewalks to scoop, in nine different towns. Multiple times a day, plus trying to work, meet people, and do work. I just had enough! I had enough. And enough, one day I flagged it in. I said I’m out of here!
Went and had a few beers, and the next thing you know I’m standing on a bar stool, telling everybody that I’m moving to Fiji. And woke up the next morning put a suit on. Then my flatmates are going, so you moving to Fiji? I’m like, I’m what? And so, it’s like crap! If that’s what I said, well, I suppose I’ve got to do it.
And so, I started figuring it out. And, about 12 pages deep in a Google search, I found New Zealand Funeral Directors Association. And I was like where’s is that? Never heard of that? And so I googled it, and I was like New Zealand? Looked on the map. Google Maps. Right next to Fiji on the map. Coming from the middle of the United States, you know, I’ve only seen the ocean three times in my life. You know how far the ocean initially was. And I sent an email, and a lady answered, and I was like OK and started talking to this lady. And she tried to help me get a job. Ran adverts in magazines, and she talked to people for me. Nobody wanted to take a chance.
She said, I think you just need to come down here. And so I said OK I when? And she goes well in February, we’re having our first international meeting with the Australian Funeral Directors Association. First one ever. You should come to that. I said OK. Book me in. Here’s my credit card. And I flew down here and I arrived in Masterton and I thought it was the most amazing place I’d ever seen!
Yeah. And so, I had like, no job offers. Nobody wanted like, any interest in me. And from the time that I got off the bus at the hotel in Masterton, to checking in, I had like 17 business cards with offers, and people wanting to talk to me that week. And so, during that week I met with several people. The fellow that I ended up taking a job with was the smallest, hence the reason I ended up in Warkworth. And so, I took the job in Warkworth and moved here. It was crazy. I jumped on a plane and moved here. I had no idea. I was amazed when I got here! I was like you guys have real roads!?! And, real cars!?! I was expecting….
That this is Fiji?
….was totally expecting Leonardo DiCaprio the beach. Totally.
Yeah, yeah. I got that a lot when I lived in the States. Oh do you guys still have thatched huts?
And flush toilets.
The funeral side of New Zealand culture, like you saw from, from North Carolina. Completely different! But, I found that the people, the families were like so amazed that I was so new, that they were so happy to help me. And, and show me sort of – you know. I hung around people’s – and I still do. When I take people home, I hang around their houses for an hour or so sometimes, and just sort of watch what happens. And watch how other people want to do things. And how yeah, different things work. And it’s, it’s still, still is – It’s amazing every every time. That’s cool.
That’s so cool. As a funeral director. Have you ever had any experiences that you couldn’t explain? In terms of like – you mentioned previously, when you, when you’re dealing with people who’ve committed suicide, that you sometimes feel like they shouldn’t be there.
Yeah, and they vary. I. Yeah, I have had a recurring dream since I’ve been really young. And it’s really it’s the same thing over, and over again. In the same place, and it goes the same way. And the same people are there, and only one person can talk to me. And then, just a couple of years ago,that one person that can talk to me. The only person that can talk to me in that reoccurring dream, he died and. he’s same, same age as me. And if it’s just sort of like, wonder what that had to do with anything.? Never really figured that out.
I had – These are the only two dreams I’ve ever had about work. The other dream was I was working, and the lady had the same last name as me, And I could, I was a member, I was in the office and I was like, oh her families here. They’ve come in to see her. So I’ll just go in the room and I’ll make sure the lights are on and everything’s ready, and she looks really good. And,the flowers are all facing the right way and everything. And I went in there turned on the lights and she’s not there! And I’m like, Mary where are you? And I’m looking all over the funeral home for her. And she was in the staff room, just sitting there like, chilling out. And, I’m like, you have to get back in there! Your family, they’re out in the parking lot. They’re coming. And she says I’m not going, I don’t want too. But, I think you have to. You have to. And so I talked her into it. And I had her laid back down, and she crawled in and fluffed and buffed her hair, you know, I’m all back. And I kept going and making sure she’d stay there and she kept sort of like looking at me, like looking at me. And then, I was like that’s that’s the only time I’ve ever dreamed about work. And yeah went back in the next morning. The first thing I did was see if she was still there! But she was there.
I lived in two different funeral homes, at two different times in my working career. And, the first one that I lived at had a lot of movement, stuff around. Yeah. Well all the work happened downstairs and I lived upstairs. Really old building. And oh yeah, you put things away, and you go back downstairs two hours, and they’d be out of the counter. It’d be moved, they moved from one spot to the next.
They’d be moved from one room to the other and you just got – you just came to accept it, and just sort of rolled with it and thought well, weird? But never saw anything happen. It’s always happened when you’d come back. The other one I never saw anything. It was all just a matter of feeling, and my bedroom was right at the top of the big staircase that went rolling down to the work area of the funeral home. And I’m an open door sleeper. And I just, I just couldn’t sleep with the door open there. I was like something’s going on? So, I closed the door. And, then I’m like, this isn’t working for me! So I just had a big meeting with everybody that was there, and I don’t really know who was there. But just said, hey it stops here! Whatever is happening, you guys can have the downstairs. That’s cool. But the upstairs, I live here, you guys gotta get out. You’re gone! You know, I’ve got to sleep here, so it’s over, it stops. And nothing after, after that, but….
I didn’t know what to do. So that’s just what I don’t know. I felt like if I just fobbed up to it, either it’s gonna come after me, or it’s gonna go away. One of the two, and so I just yeah, got out of bed turned the light on, and I said I’ve had enough! This is done! It’s over! I know you’re there and it’s just I know you’re watching me. You’re not doing anything, you’re just watching me. It was just like trying to sleep while being watched. And like, and then they were gone!
There was that room – that you felt? That one bedroom. Remember that one bedroom?
I do yeah. That really big one….
That you couldn’t just go in. It was like – and no one ever stayed there.
No. I had one room that never put anything in it. I just walked by it. I just didn’t like the room. It was just I don’t know? It’s just – it wasn’t any temperature difference. There was no noises, no nothing. It’s just an eerie feeling about that room. And I just left that room. I never put anything, I never stored anything in that room. I never walked in there. I never let anybody sleep in there. I was like, the room just didn’t exist. I don’t know what?
So how did it how do you mean it felt eerie? Did it feel like uncomfortable? Unsafe?
No, it just made me feel nervous.
And I’ve learned that if – yeah! I’ve learned over the years now, that if I’ve got a gut feeling, I go with it. Yeah, it was just one of those things like [inaudible]. And it just popped into my mind. Or you know, that your tummy just sort of feels nervous-y and it’s like Nah! I got nothing. I got nothing in there. Got no reason to go. Not going to go there. Not going!
Yep, yep. Good for you. And you did the right thing sitting boundaries with spirit you know, because, most spirit -it’s like people in life. You set boundaries with people, and most people will respect those boundaries that you set. And Spirit’s no different. They’re just people without bodies. When you were working on the body of a person who’s passed, have you had occasions where you’ve felt their presence? Or, you felt somebody in the room with you?
I behave and talk to them like they are, yeah, just in case they are. I’ve always yeah, I’ve always wondered if if people hang, hang with me for the ride. Just because, this is a whole new thing for them and where this is this? What’s happening? So, I always talk to them, and yeah, sort of treat them as if they are here. And, sort of, I guess, try to calm a situation. If anybody is feeling a situation, even though there’s no situation?
Yeah – I got you. I got you. Well I used to do the same thing. As a nurse, when somebody would die, I would talk to them. I would explain to them what I was doing. And I would call their name
Same, same. Call them. Yeah. Ok, darling we’re just gonna roll you over now, to this room.
I do the same thing.
Yeah. You do it, because, you know often – speaking as a sensitive. Spirit will hang around their bodies, during the funeral. Often they’ll, they’ll be there at the funeral. They’ll be there at the funeral service, and then they move off. Not always, but quite often that’s the case.
Do you feel like, because, you’re around dead people all the time, and not everybody that you deal with has been nice people in life. Sometimes they have had associations with people that – or, or they were drug addicts. Or, they were alcoholics. And very often these type of people have attachments. Spirit attachments, that influence their behavior for whatever reason. Have you ever felt like you’ve brought something home with you from work?
Oooh, as you say there certainly have been my fair share of unsavory characters that I’ve encountered. But, I would confidently say no. I, at least I don’t believe so. I’ve always been able to feel every day when I leave work, I’ve left work. I can just throw a switch, and then I have two minutes down the road I’m into home, home mode now. I can, but I’ve never really felt that. But, I guess I’ve never tried to really think about it. Any thoughts on a bad run of luck, or something, I tend to probably look at myself, more than the people that I’m looking after admittedly. Yeah.
What about you Karina? Have you ever noticed anything?
I guess not really relating to Dean. What I talked about on the Facebook page of some of the things that we’ve witnessed in the home. But not really putting two and two together, that it could be something Dean’s bringing home.
Yeah, we have had several sort of experiences at each house, that we’ve sort of lived at. So we’ve sort of, I guess, put it more set down to a house. Because, they’re faceless and unidentifiable. Rather than the possibility of hitching a ride with me. That’s interesting. I guess I never really considered it.
Well, why would you? It’s not on your radar is it?
No. It’s, it’s I guess it’s no, it’s not. I’m totally focused on something else when I’m there. So yeah.
Are you able to share what you’ve experienced? .
Yeah. We get a lot of activity in the hallway. In the entryway. And it’s more like – I guess a shadow? I would say, and it catches your eye. And it moves quickly. Our youngest daughter she’s seen quite a few things. She’s – there was a period there, where she was scared of an open and black boots. And she must have been do you think two or three?
Maybe three. She’s always like “Old man, black boots. Old man, black boots.” She’s saying – she was in the room one day, and I walked in. And she was looking really worried, and I said What’s wrong? She said – she kind of pointed to the door. I said what’s wrong with the door and she said, there’s a boy there. And I said oh ok, and what does the boy want? She said he wants to talk to me. I said do you want to talk? And she said no. I said, well just tell him that you don’t want to talk. And I left it at that.
Then a recent one that she had seen, they were in the kitchen here. And she kind of looked out and then she looked at me, and she goes, “Mum, who was running down the hallway?” And I guess, because, we have felt an activity and seeing things, I didn’t just think, oh it was a little girls imagination. I’ve sort of. . . .
We’ve had people on the bed.
And the under the bed. We used to have an aquarium right behind us. And I remember, I got to the to the doorway right over there, and I just froze. I was like there’s, there’s a little kid standing there with a baseball cap on. Just looking at the aquarium! And, I’m like what!?! And then you sort of blink, and they’re gone! So, it’s like . . . .
And the ones on the bed. It wasn’t just something I saw. What woke me up was that feeling of someone sitting on my bed. That heavy feeling, you know? And, the blankets being slightly pulled. You notice when someone sits down.
And, and it never occurred to you, that this could be from your work?
No. Because, I was at home. When I’m at home, I don’t even think about work. No. Not at all.
Just because you don’t think about work, doesn’t mean you didn’t bring it home with you.
You are good at switching off.
Oh you know the, the most weirdest things about my job, that can be very off putting, visually, sensory, emotionally – no, I’ve never brought them home. I’ve never, never had a problem. And so I just never really put two and two together, that they were tagging along with me, you know, with the end, I guess no one has.
We’ve been to see other medium people, and we’ve been around them. And they do tend to look at me, but no one’s ever said anything to me. They do sort of double, all of a sudden I see the double take. But, no one’s ever said any thing, so I’ve never anything.
Well I tend to feel that a lot of the activity in your home is from it, because you’re a healer, you’re healing. And, you work at healing in a different way. There’s many different ways of healing. And so, those in spirit who are hurting, will be drawn to you.
Yeah I guess when you said it, I just said to Karina, healer. I said I like the way that sounds. I said never I never really considered myself like that.
Well you are, because, you give people the chance to, to start to grieve for their loved ones. And, you help give them dignity in death. And that is so, so important. There’s a saying that I really like and it’s about grief. And it’s; ‘Grief is just love without a home.’
That’s that’s very nice. It’s yeah it’s lovely.
Because, you know when somebody’s lost their loved one, where do we put that love? How do they show that love? Because, the love doesn’t die just because the person’s gone.
Hm hmmm. Yeah, you’re right.
So, what you do is you provide – you give them support. Yeah. I mean you provide a very practical service, of course. But, apart from that, you provide emotional support. You, you help give them strength. You provide practical advice, and you know these things are very important to healing. There’s many different ways to help people.
I think maybe some of the, the extreme practicality of the way that I look at things sometimes is, because, I started working it at, you know, in this business when I was 21 years old. And I looked like I was twelve, and most people just want to hand me their coats and hang them up for them. And, and you know, I just, I knew what the book said to do. And then once you get very comfortable with that, and being able to do the book stuff on your subconscious, then you’re real person starts to come out. And that’s when it sort of becomes really easy to help people. I guess, I never really personally saw it that way.
But why would you? Because, it’s your profession. You know, you, you see it from a professional level. But from somebody outside looking in, there’s many different layers to what you do. Do you have any experiences that stand out for you as an undertaker that were particularly rewarding for you?
Oh absolutely. Yeah yeah certainly yeah. The list is long and they’re generally around times where I had to drop my personal walls, and go into somebody else’s space. But, one immediate – I knew where you were going with that. And the one immediately that comes to mind. Long time ago, I had a mom and a little boy that got hurt in a car accident, and the estranged father and husband was looking after it, and he wasn’t the savoriest of characters. But, he had a good heart, and he had good intent. And I remember you. I think I was I think I was about 22, 23. And he’ll had to be twenty six, or something.
Yeah I remember he’d just had enough. Just had enough. And he just slid down the floor, ah slid down the wall. Sat on the floor and he was just crying. And I was like ah, I can’t just stand there and look at somebody. So yeah, sat there on the floor with him, and I’m like Man I get it! I don’t have kids. I’m not married, but I get it. I feel for you I really do.
And you know, I remember him looking at me like, realizing that it’s like – I think I actually have somebody on my side, in this world, at the moment. And then the, like, for for that particular place where I was working, I was the youngest person by 30 years? And, I remember those older folks you know, later after, after that situation had sort of ended. And they left the building, about them telling me that was that was, that was amazing what, what you just did.
And, you know to me it was just like well isn’t that what I should do? It was just like, to me it was just the natural thing to do. Yeah the, made many times I felt proud of either the way things came off. And the feeling that the, my clients must have about the send off that they had for their mom, their dad, that it must – they must feel good about that, and it really worked.
And then I’ve got this creativity thing that I’ve got all these ideas in my head, but, they take very unique people to fit the mold for some of these things. And I had the opportunity just about two years ago, to try to pull one of them off, and do something really different with a funeral for a young person. And it went just amazing. And had just hundreds of feedback, about how I’ve never been to anything like that before. And, that was just so fitting for a young person, and so so different. And you know, you put a lot of time and effort into doing some things and it pays off. Yeah yeah. The other one.
I sat in our couch for days in the evening, cutting out paper hearts for some people by hand with a scissors. I must’ve cut a thousand of them. And my finger and my thumb were numb, for like six months after cutting them. But, what the idea was, and how it came off and what the family got to have afterwards. Yeah it was just that was, that was really cool.
So you invest everything that you do with, for your clients families. You invest your energy, and your love, and your healing. And, and it feels to me like above and beyond, what a traditional undertaker actually would do, from what I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
Yeah. I’d like, I’d really like to think so, that,that I do. The, the hard part about it, that I have to acknowledge, is that my family end up having to share me. And, share a lot of me. So, like there’s there’s a lot of times where we are doing things, and then I just have to go. And you know, Karina’s got to to carry on with the kids. And then, I catch back up with them. Hopefully, before bed, sometimes not. But yeah, they do they they sacrifice a lot. I sacrifice a lot of my person. They sacrifice a lot in sharing me with everybody else.
So it’s real team work. But really, it’s no different to any other caring profession like EMT’s or Doctors, or anybody who works on call. It’s not really that different in terms of sharing your life. Like a medic, or a doctor, or a first responder. The whole family share. It’s a family thing really. Same with nurses, you know?
Yeah. Karina’s the same. When she started out being an LMC, that was a big share. You know, I was working on call as well, Karina was on call. We were woosh, whoosh. Yeah.
What do you do Karina?
I’m a midwife.
Oh well, yeah. There you go. I didn’t, I didn’t hear what you said. Yeah, so there you go. It’s exactly the same thing you know? And, and the families do. But, you work around it and that’s what it’s about. You guys have just started your own funeral business at, up in Warkworth?
Just four days ago, so that’s pretty exciting for you.
Well I started working at it four days ago, but we still waiting for the council to supply code of compliance for the building. Still waiting for furniture. Soft furnishings, and a lot of my key embalming equipment is stuck in the States. So, so still waiting on some things. But essentially, we are rolling down the runway at the moment.
That’s awesome, and do you have a business website that – 25 percent of my audience is here in New Zealand.
Yes. Yes we do. So, our first adverts are due to drop on the end of the month and so the website will be coming alive at the end of the month. At besoul.co.nz . Besoul.
Besoul? That is really lovely. So is that the name of your business? Besoul?
Yes. Yep. So this website is besoul.co.nz, and then I guess how we answer the phone and what the sign says is Be Soul Funerals. But we have a very unique building that, that’s been provided to us. And the aim of the building was to be different and modern, and community sort of minded. When we found the name Karina and I. We sort of felt like that sort of, hopefully tries to leave the scariness of a funeral home to the side, that it can be something very special. It doesn’t have to be a scary place. We’ve tried to lean towards everything being welcoming, warm, colorful, energetic, instead of black, somber ,and scary.
That’s awesome, and I think – I’ve noticed over the years, that there’s, that there’s a real drift away from that. To more of a celebration of the person’s life.
Yeah. Yeah, you notice that. Like in the in the newspaper notices. There’s a lot of comments saying like a service, or the service. But then, there is a service celebrating the life, or a celebration of life service, that’s become quite a common way of referring to it. A lot more comfortable and softer way, of not having to say the word, funeral.
Yeah. Well yes. But, also I tend to feel celebrations of lives are not as down as funerals.
They’re more about, what this person brought into our lives. And how they made us feel. And how much we learned from them. And, how much we loved them. It’s a really healing thing, rather than a funeral which is really sad – and I’m thinking traditional religious funerals.
Yeah. Yeah. And try as well, we tried to step away from a lot of the traditional language, and thus far the, the traditional things that become boring and intimidating. And, seeing the recent trend sort of coming down the pipe that a lot of people’s request was just to be cremated and then nothing. Working in that and seeing that, there’s there’s a lot of people that are missing out on, you know, just a gathering. Or, just a, a contribution of emotion to – of support to somebody who might be needing it. .
And with this covid thing. You know, when people were making the choice to have that as an option, there was a sense of control. And then when the covid thing came around and a lot of people still were passing away during then. Not of covid, thankfully here. But, there is now a push that you didn’t have a choice. You were given that as your only choice. And hoping that the experiences that people had during that time sort of come out, that, that wasn’t very good for them. And that we do, we do sort of start working back to having gatherings. Funeral celebrations, of all and the above from 10 people to 500 people doesn’t always have to be large.
Right. I know that it’s really important for people – we had a death just this past week. And, I kind of – I only knew her on the periphery, as my brother in law’s aunty. But, I’ve known him since I was 13, and she was a lovely old lady. But she, all she wanted was just to have her immediate family, and no service. And while I understand that for her, I kind of feel like those of us on the periphery miss out on being able to say goodbye.
And support of them. And that’s, yeah, that’s exactly what I see from front, from the back of the room. And that’s what we hear when when we go out and somebody runs into us, and they hear that somebody had passed. And when’s the funeral and it’s like, well there wasn’t one, it was private. Oh no, and you get that feeling of just missing out of them getting to give support.
Yeah absolutely. Now, one more question, which is – You, of course, would be up with all the latest funeral trends, and everything. Is there, is there the possibility of coming to New Zealand like they have overseas eco-burials. You know, where they just go back to the old fashioned, wrap you in a blanket and put you in the ground, and plant a tree on top of you.
Yeah yeah. So there are a few, I want to say a few, Maybe five, three to five certified places in New Zealand. I know for Auckland we’ve got a section at Waikumete cemetery that is set aside like that. I think there’s one down, maybe Wellington. There’s just a few. They do exist. The popularity of them, I haven’t had anybody request that service personally.
One of the things that our funeral home is looking to explore is exactly what you’re saying. Is finding somebody that would like to work with us. That might have a little parcel of land amongst a large block, that we can send back to you know, normal bush sort of growth, and use G.P.S. marking. And have minimal restrictions, as to what is allowed to come in. How deep and everything, to be as natural as possible.
I think there’s a drive totally to the carbon emission, sort of drive with, with that. The government is currently reviewing the general rules of New Zealand and the guidelines and I think they’re open to submissions until the thirty first of October and then they’re going to try to modernize what the rules are going to be.
So, even with cremation there are some more up and coming technologies that are less harmful to the environment. There was even zero carbon emissions so it’ll be interesting if, if, if they allow those to become legal and find a way for the councils to accept them.
So there’s some quite interesting things coming up by the sound of it. And that’s not a bad thing, because, we need to protect what we have.
Oh Definitely, oh definitely.
So, look. Thank you so much for your time Dean and Karina. I’ve really enjoyed this chat. It’s been a really interesting conversation. And I’m sure of that it would have answered a number of questions for, that some of my viewers have about, about how undertakers see things, perhaps.
Good. Yeah. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you as well. It’s going to it’s been very nice. Thanks for it. Thanks for having us.
Yes, its been amazing. Thanks Marianne.
I have had a lot to do with undertakers over the years, both in a personal capacity with deaths of friends and loved ones, and in professional capacity as a nurse, especially when I worked in private hospitals at stages in my nursing career. I have always admired them. It’s not a pleasant job dealing with the physical remains and the work that needs to be done for them, or with the grieving family and friends. Takes a special type of person I reckon and I really appreciate that Dean goes out of his way to demystify his profession and to make things so much easier for those he works with. I’m so grateful to Karina for being the catalyst in making this episode possible. I really enjoyed my chat with both of these people.
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