PROFESSIONAL: Cilla O’Hare shows off a fancy casket at Gladstone Valley Funerals.
PROFESSIONAL: Cilla O’Hare shows off a fancy casket at Gladstone Valley Funerals. Campbell Gellie

Loved ones find a friend in Cilla

WHILE some may recoil from the prospect of working around corpses, Cilla O'Hare sees it as an opportunity to help grieving people.

The funeral assistant at Gladstone Valley Funerals fell into the job not knowing much about it.

Mrs O'Hare said she was reluctantly working in hospitality when she got a call about a job at a funeral home.

"My friends couldn't believe I was going to do it and I couldn't either," she said.

"After the first week I was set. I knew this was for me."

That was five years ago next May, and in that time she has been surrounded by death.

"I get into work at 7.30am, I do the books, the accounts and make sure the viewing room is nice and tidy," she said.

"I greet families when they come in and help arrange their funerals," she said.

Mrs O'Hare said she not only dealt with the mourning families but also with the dear departed.

"If someone has passed away and the ambulance can't revive them, the police are called and then we are called to collect them," she said.

"I always look at it as I am helping a family, not that I am doing a disgusting job."

Mrs O'Hare has also had some experience in the mortuary.

"It's physically demanding. There's a lot of dead weight and they are very hard to manoeuvre," she said.

"You have to undress them, wash them and dress them."

She said everyone reacted differently to the job and her interest in it enabled her to help grieving families.

"It's a job for us. They're (families) coming to us to get the help they need," she said.

"If we just fell apart and cried all the time we wouldn't be able to help, but because we can deal with death we get everything under control."

When it comes to her own funeral, Mrs O'Hare has prepared strict instructions.

"I've already told everyone I want a direct cremation and a little barbecue for me; it's all about me," she said.

"Then scatter my ashes in the ocean because I love anything to do with dolphins."

campbell.gellie@gladstoneobserver.com.au



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