Now You Know: The job of a funeral director and embalmer

â??Weâ??re becoming a society where we almost think this is an option and unfortunately itâ??s not,â?? said Ranve Martinson, Funeral Director of Martinson Funeral Home.

Martinson is a fourth generation licensed funeral director and embalmer.

â??Itâ??s very vitally important for them to say goodbye, pay their last respects to their loved one,â?? Martinson said. â??We temporarily halt and suspend and preserve the body where itâ??s safe, secure and sanitary for them to do so.â??

Martinson said people often misperceive what funeral director jobs are really like because of what they see on television.

â??It's not dark, weâ??re not a cellar, thereâ??s not cobwebs, thereâ??s not bats flying around,â?? Martinson said.

From start to finish Martinson preps the deceased to be presentable for their loved ones at the funeral.

â??They get their bathing here and itâ??s regular shampoo, conditioner and soap,â?? Martinson said.

She also uses a pigmented chemical which helps make the body look more presentable from the inside out.

â??This is part of the solution that helps sanitize but it happens to have some pigmented color to help counteract the paleness and the bluishness and the grayishness that a body normally goes through upon death,â?? Martinson said.

She also applies the make up.

â??Some are just peaceful and natural looking anyways and then some because of the medications or whatever they were suffering from it does show in the face,â?? Martinson said. â??Some of those cases can take me hours if not over a couple of days.â??

Martinson said different illnesses and diseases can cause the skin to change colors after a person dies. If the person had jaundice they will have a yellowish skin color. Martinson said people who die from leukemia can have a greenish skin color.

Though her career is just getting started Martinson said she has already had her fair share of odd requests.

â??She goes, â??I wanna look like when I was 60, you can do that, turn back 20 years!â??, and I said, â??No problem!â??â?? Martinson said.

While some of Martinsonâ??s work can be a bit tedious, it can also be a bit dangerous. Martinson uses a large magnet to place on top of defibrillators so she knows where it is and does not get shocked while she is working.

Just because people are no longer living, Martinson said the tools and products she uses to prep them are no different from what the living use.

â??We have to have the same stuff as a beauty salon and so these are products that youâ??ll find at any drug store,â?? Martinson said. â??Itâ??s nothing fancy. Itâ??s things that you and I use, and if itâ??s good enough for us, then itâ??s obviously good enough for somebodyâ??s loved one.â??

While some may find her job a bit creepy, Martinson said most of her work is actually with those who are still living.

â??The biggest thing is helping the familiesâ?? transition through that loss, because obviously when we pass away weâ??re not going to care,â?? Martinson said.

Because Leelanau County is so small, Martinson said she knows about 85% of the people the funeral home serves.

â??That emotionally is tough, very, very tough,â?? Martinson said. â??We grieve like everybody else, there are times where Iâ??ll be sobbing and itâ??s a tough day at work and I go home and itâ??s hard to decompress. Thatâ??s your friend or thatâ??s your loved one. That is the hardest part.â??

Though some days can be difficult to get through, Martinsonâ??s passion for helping others through the grieving process surpasses the personal grief she often struggles with in her career.

â??The driving motivational force behind what I do is, again, to give that person back to their family even if itâ??s just briefly,â?? Martinson said.

Martinson Funeral Home is located at 115 Saint Joseph Street Suttons Bay, MI.

For more information about Martinson Funeral Home and the services they offer visit their website