Episode 99: Working With The Dead
Death the final frontier, to steal and paraphrase those famous opening words from the original Star Trek TV series, uttered by William Shatner who played Captain James T. Kirk, in this classic show that spawned, oh so many, other sci-fi shows. Is death the end of us, or do our souls continue on? Are we even aware that we’ve passed over? That we’re dead? Or does our manner of passing influence our awareness of our death? But, actually, is death the final frontier? Or, is it merely a resting phase before we move onto a different journey. Rebirth into this reality perhaps? Or, life on other planets, other realities?
Many people have had encounters with loved ones be they friends or family who have moved on from this phase of our existence. But, what happens if you work in an industry that deals with death on a daily basis, such as that of the funeral directors, or undertakers? Do you actually have these souls around you, while you’re working on their bodies? Preparing them for their funerals, their viewings. Preparing their bodies for the opportunity for loved ones to farewell them. And to celebrate the fact that they lived, and were loved. Do they have encounters with the spirits of these people?
In this episode, which is our very first episode this of year, in twenty-twenty-two, we’re going to take a walk into the world of working with the dead. Specifically, in the field of funeral directors. But, before we do, I want to welcome you all. If this is your first time listening to our podcast, thank you so much for joining us. If you are a returning listener, welcome back. And I hope, whatever your belief systems, that you had a safe seasonal break. It’s awesome to have you all here. So, now we’re here, are you ready to walk with me, into this part of the Shadowlands and see what awaits us there? Awesome! Then let’s begin.
Right from the time that she was just a wee lass of thirteen years old, my guest knew that she wanted to be a funeral director. In fact, it was right after an Aunt’s funeral, that she told her Mum that this is what she wanted to become, because she wasn’t impressed with the way her funeral was held. She actually told her Mum that she could do a better job than the undertaker.
When she was sixteen, the Funeral homes in New Zealand had an open day, so people could go and visit and see what they were all about. So, her Mum took her to it. She recalls asking the funeral director ‘sixty-thousand’ questions and this only fuelled her desire to work in this industry. So at eighteen she finished high school and started applying at funeral homes in her home town. Most of these places tried to dissuade her from following this vocation. And actually at that stage in NZ female funeral directors were like hen’s teeth, very rare indeed. It was regarded as a ‘male’ profession.
Eventually, my guest tried places in different cities and finally was able to get an apprenticeship with a funeral director, and completed the necessary papers to become an accredited funeral director here in New Zealand. She eventually moved to Wellington with a gentleman who was just opening up his own business there. And whilst in Wellington, actually lived in the funeral home. Eventually leaving the profession due to family issues, she then married and had children. Now, with a young family who are currently her focus, my guest is planning on a return to the profession she loves when her wee ones are a bit older. I want to welcome my guest Jenna.
Marianne: Jenna, thank you so much for agreeing to talk with me today. My listeners. Jenna is a member of my work in the Shadowlands Facebook group, and we had a thread up. I can’t actually even remember what the thread was about now. And Jenna spoke up about some of her experiences. Her paranormal experiences that she had had while working as an Undertaker in a funeral parlour. So, I asked her if she would be willing to come on to our podcast and share these experiences with you. Because, the little that she did share was so interesting that I felt that you all would really be interested in hearing what she has to say. So, Jenna, thank you very much for agreeing to do this. I know that it’s a bit nerve wracking.
Jenna: Thank you for having me, Marianne.
It’s – and also, it’s really nice to put a face to the name, you know, like, I see all these names that pop up regularly in the group, but you don’t see the people behind them. So it’s really nice to connect with you on that level as well.
Oh absolutely. I’m a little bit star struck. I’m like, oh, my gosh, it’s Marianne!
Oh that’s funny! Oh, thank you. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that! Tell me a wee bit about yourself. Maybe your work history? Hobbies?
Sure. Let me see. When I was thirteen, that’s when I decided I wanted to be a funeral director and embalmer. And I sort of told my mom it was actually shortly after my great auntie’s funeral. And I went to go and view her and I was like, you know what? I could do a better job than that, at thirteen. Cocky wee thing I was, but I said to my Mum, that’s what I want to do! I think that was – I think that would be really nice, because, I’ve always been quite about wanting to help people and things. So my mum took me to an open home, which was unusual. I don’t know if they do them anymore, but they had open homes when I was sixteen. They opened up all the funeral homes, so that people could go through and tour them. And I guess it just takes a of the mystery away.
And bless my mum. She took me through. We went in. I was having a good program, the mortuary asking like, sixty-thousand questions to the funeral directors and what not. And that just really cemented it for me. I was like, yeah, this is what I want to do! It’s fabulous. So, when I was 18 and finished high school, I went and I worked in a day care center for a few weeks. Because, I had done my early childhood degree. And then just decided that wasn’t for me. And I just couldn’t shake this funeral directing thing from my head. So, that was it. I went and applied to all of the funeral homes in my town, you know, which is hard. It’s a hard industry to actually get into. It quite difficult.
Yes. I have a friend who’s just done about a year or so ago, she did a funeral director’s course, and she just can’t find work in the area.
Yeah, it’s very difficult. And you know, I got laughed out of a lot of places. Because, I was so young, you know? And they were like, oh, you can’t handle that. And I was like, I can! And people trying to tell me horror stories and things. And I was like, that’s fine. That won’t bother me. All right. Anyway, I finally found somebody that gave me a chance. And so I started working with him. And then, I got an opportunity to go down to Wellington with another funeral director and colleague that I had met. And he was going to open his own funeral home and asked me if I would go down there and open that up with him?
So that’s where, that is the place where I was living. In the home. Because, there was only the two of us working there. So, at the time, we didn’t have anyone to fill in. So, you kind of go home and then get called back a lot. So, there was no real point in paying rent. I live somewhere else when I was spending so much of my time, at the home. So, yeah, I just moved into the home. It was really great. I loved it. I did love it. I had to move away for personal, family reasons. I had to move back home, here. So, I kind of fell into my job that I’m in at the moment and have just kind of been rotting there for the last fifteen years. Just because it’s convenient for me at the moment. And I’ve got little kids. So, it’s kind of hard to do the funeral directing with little kids. You can’t get up and leave in the middle of the night, if you have to.
Being on call is a hard thing. So did you actually do any training? Did you like train formally, or was it all on the job training?
It was all on the job training. My boss down in Wellington. He applied to actually be able to train me himself because he used to run a lot of the training programs back in his day, and he got accepted to do that. Rather than my having to go. But, you have to have two years on the job experience before you can even apply to that uni anyway. And he was sort of like, Well, if I’m training you, I kind of want you to be trained my way. He didn’t really agree with fifty percent pass mark, he wanted a seventy percent pass mark. You know, he said, you’re no good to me if you’re only going to do fifty percent of your job!
Yeah. That’s a really good attitude!
Yeah. So I was actually being trained by him and they were formally recognising a lot of that work, so . . .
Oh, that’s great!
Yeah, it was a bit of an odd thing. I don’t think many people would have the opportunity. But, I mean, he was an amazing man to learn from. He had so much experience. He had done the Erebus disaster. He had worked over in the United States. And he taught me so many things that I wouldn’t have learnt, at the normal training program. We worked on facial reconstruction and things like that, which were amazing! He had amazing techniques that he was able to take me through and that I could learn, that I wouldn’t have lived elsewhere. Yeah.
Wow. And how did your parents feel about you doing this? Were they a bit concerned about you going into an area that some could see, perhaps as morbid, or unhealthy?
My mother wasn’t. No, she was an incredibly supportive woman. And she had never, ever made us feel uncomfortable around death or anything. We were attending funerals from before, five years old, the family ones. And so it was all very normalized for us. And she was incredibly supportive. She would get a little bit nervous when I was hoping in the shower and gave her my phone and said, Can you answer this for me if it rings? And she did have to a couple of times. And she did very well. But no, she was incredibly supportive. I did have some family members, especially in the older generation, that we’re just sort of, oh! what on Earth would you want to do that for? Oh, my goodness! Why can’t you go and be a Secretary or something? You know, that kind of thing. My actual mother, she was very supportive of me, which was wonderful.
That’s awesome. That makes such a difference, doesn’t it? Especially since it’s an area that a lot of people have fear about. They’re very scared of death.
And it was very interesting because I would find in social situations, it’s one of the first questions people ask you, isn’t it? Hi. My name is. How are you? What do you do? And then, it would be really interesting. Some people you would say, oh, I’m a funeral director. They would like, just blank stare at you and not know how to continue with the conversation. And I found it a little bit of a strange reaction. But I guess, some people, it does make them a little bit uncomfortable. And then you have really morbidly curious people. So what do you do?
Yeah, give me details. Right. And then there are always that few, that you really don’t want to know.
Yeah. And then the jokes. Oh, my Lord. How was work today? Dead was it? Come on, guys. They get old pretty quick!
I had a friend who was in the Navy, and this was back when there was a really popular song ‘Sailing’. I don’t know if you heard it back in the seventies? Eighties? It was sailing. It was a really lovely song. And every time that their ship would come into the harbour, the local radio station would play that song. And they just got, like, you sick of hearing the same jokes. The same songs. The same. Yeah, I guess it’s, ah what’s the word? People think they are original.
Yes, they do. Yes. And my fake laughs started getting less and less convincing.
Actually, how many years did you work in the industry?
I was in the industry for about two or three years before I had to move away.
Right. I can actually see you going back to it.
To be honest, I desperately want to go back to it desperately. Just when the kids are a little bit older.
Yeah. Because, it’s like being like a medical personnel, being on call all the time. I don’t know if you heard, but a few seasons ago, I actually spoke to Dean and Karina Weber. I think that’s their name? They’re funeral directors up north.
Oh, probably. Yeah.
Yeah, And he had a couple of experiences as well. And I think it sort of goes with the territory. When you’re dealing with dead people.
I actually think you start to get quite used to it. It just becomes sort of part of your working life.
Right. Go back to the beginning. When a dead person arrives at your funeral home, how do you guys treat them? Like, did you personally treat them like they were still alive? And you talked to them as you were working on them?
I always did. Yes. It just felt natural to me to talk to my clients, and that’s how I was referred to them as my clients. And I would chat away. And use their names and let them know what we were doing and what we were up to and anything I would be doing. Sorry.
So it just was quite natural to me to talk to my clients. And if it was quite sad, then when I’m talking to them like, I would just acknowledge that. And I’ve met your mom or I’ve met your daughter and blah, blah and just talking to them and letting them know whatever it was that I was doing, as well.
That’s really cool.
Yeah. Just to me felt like a sign of respect.
I was just going to say that’s a respect thing, even though they’re not in their body, as are still around.
Yes, yeah. And I got that feeling quite often. And sometimes it would be a very strong feeling. So just making sure that I was acknowledging that person and letting them know what it was I was doing. I always thought, if it was me and I was hanging around and someone was touching my body or something. Well, I would quite like them to let me know what it was that they were doing and things like that, so . . .
So respect is really big. And it’s really great that you talk to them like that. When you first started eighteen is very young to be in an industry like that. But, it’s no younger than being a nurse.
And nurses deal with death all the time. I remember one time back in – oh it would have been the late seventies. Seventy-six, or seventy-seven, somewhere around there. And I was down in Wellington at the time. I was on duty. And you know what it can wear is like when it storms, it can be really stormy. I was working in Lower Hutt Hospital at the time. And it was a really horrible, stormy night. Like all those horror stories, thunder and lightning. And I had student nurses on the ward with me. And we had this patient who’d just died. It’s kind of a funny story. And I was training them how to lay out a body before you guys came to pick them up. You know, how we wash them. And how we put wrap them and we tag them. Well, they used to. I don’t know what they do these days?
And we were washing this body. And as we were washing the body of this person, we – I got the girls to roll him, so we could wash his back. And at that minute, he expelled the air. So, it sounded like he was moaning. And right at that point in time, he was this huge thunderclap and lightning! Just, it was just a perfect timing, as he lit out this long expel – you know? All this air out. And the girls screamed. Honestly, they both screamed. They ran.
I actually had something similar once when I was with, with a young man that we had come in. And I had walked past him on the table, and his hand had slipped into the pocket of my scrub pants. And because, I kept walking, I was moving his arm, which was causing the muscles to contract in his hand. And it felt for the life of me like he was squeezing my thigh and I let out a little squeak. Then I’ll tell you that much, but it was funny because his family let me know. He was a cheeky guy, was always pranking people, and such a fun loving character. And I was like, oh, yeah, that makes sense.
Yeah, that does.
It was awfully. It gave me a big fright. I’ll tell you that much.
Yeah, it would have. And were you in the room by yourself at the time?
Even worse. Oh, wow. That’s funny. Yeah. I’ll never forget these nurses. They just screamed blue murder. Literally screamed, and they both took off! And the charge nurse came and said, what the heck’s going? I told her. She cracked up. The girls had to go and have a cup of tea to calm themselves down. Yeah. But, I understand that would have been really scary for you, yeah. It’s – Our bodies do interesting, physiological things.
Yes, they do. They certainly do. And you do it’s like you would have been a more experienced nurse at the time. And once I got a little bit more experience under my belt, it didn’t give me fights as often.
So how was it for you when you first started? Did it take you a while to adjust to working with the, with your clients?
In certain situations it did. If we had a lovely ,elderly person that had just passed away from natural causes and things. Well that’s what everybody expects you’re going to be dealing with. And so I was quite prepared for that. I thought I had prepared myself quite well for other situations, but some of them do throw you a little bit. And especially, I’m quite an empathetic person, naturally. And so, a few of them I did find quite tough, you know? Unfortunately, my first embalming experience was a little baby, so that was a bit off put – It just threw me a little bit that one. But again, honestly, I was just talking to this little baby like it was just any regular little baby. And we were chatting, and I was, it was a bit rough, I think for my first go.
That would be really difficult. I mean, you can deal with adults because they’ve had full lives. But, dealing with children or people who died under traumatic circumstances, must have been really difficult.
Yeah, I did find homicides quite difficult as well. I would have my normal feelings of just, outrage, you know? Because, it’s the overwhelming feeling of, no person has the right to do that to another person. Yeah, but we did have one in particular where I was quite – It was quite odd for me to deal with this rage that I was feeling towards the perpetrator. Didn’t feel like it was my own. Because, I wouldn’t think that I would have felt that angry, so personally. Just viscerally angry at the perpetrator. whereas, of course, your outrage. And, of course, you’re mad. But, every time I was around this person it was just this overwhelming fury, directed at this perpetrator.
And one of the odd things that was happening when I was working with this person was, you keep them covered. If you are not working on a certain area, you keep that area covered. Much like when you’re at a doctor, or nursing. And this person’s sheet just kept slipping off of the wound. Off one of the wounds. But, obviously I felt like that was probably the wound that was the culprit in this situation. Because, it was just so bizarre for me. Because – And I would be putting it back, and I would be putting the sheet back quite firmly. And then I’d turn around and turn back and the sheet back off this wound. And it was just this overwhelming anger. And it was not my own. And when I left the room, if I walked out, then it was, I was back to my normal state of mind.
Right. That’s really interesting. So obviously this gentleman was influencing your emotions with his anger at what had happened to him.
Yeah, yeah. I believe so. Because it was not natural for me to be feeling that level of anger.
Yeah. And was there any reason, any physical reason why the sheet would have kept slipping off of him?
No. Because I was doing everything that I could. I touched it under where I could and was like stay! Just stay! But, it did, it kept moving. And it was just so unexplainable to me. There was nobody else in the room. It was just me. And it quite often happens that these things happen when you’re on your own, right.
Right. I was going to say I would imagine it would generally be by yourself. But, have you had things happen when there’s somebody else in the room with you?
Once, or twice. It didn’t really happen that often when there was more than one. Actually. Funnily enough the two times I can remember off the top of my head, both of our clients were car crash victims. Which I don’t know if that has anything to do with it? But, it may not. It’s just a little bit of an observation from me that both instances where we did have things move of what appeared to be their own accord. When both myself and my boss were in the room. Both of them had suffered injuries in a car accident. So, I’m not sure.
So what actually happened? You’ve got me interested now.
Yes. In the first instance, we were involving this client. And again, which I’m just talking away. And my boss was very used to me doing that. And so he was over at the embalming machine, where he was mixing up fluids and things for me. And I was with the gentleman in question. Which was – So, we had a long bench that went across the back of the room. And in the corner where neither of us was anywhere near. We just had one of our tools just go flying off the bench. And it was just landed on the floor. And I was like what !?! My boss was a sceptical man, but even he was like, what happened there?
That was the first one. And so, I just did what came naturally to me, and just chatted to the client again. Like, it’s okay. And there’s nothing that can be done now. We’re just here to look after you. It’s all right. We’re going to take good care of you, and your family. So, just reassuring the person. Because that’s what I felt we needed to do.
Right. That must – Actually, that must be very comforting to the souls who quite often are still confused. Especially in traumatic situations like that, where they pass in traumatic situations. For you to be talking to them like that would be quite comforting to them. So that’s really awesome that you did that.
Yeah. I keep trying to, like, I say, always have myself in their shoes. Because, I am a strong believer in the afterlife and in spirits, and people hanging around. So like I say, goodness me, if I was hanging around and I wasn’t sure, I was upset. I wouldn’t like to be given the silent treatment.
Exactly. So what happened in the second instance?
So in the second instance, again, it was actually in the embalming room. So the same place, again. Different client. And my boss was finishing up. So he was suturing, and I was just cleaning down our client. Just giving him a nice wash. And I was actually cleaning under his fingernails, because, he had a lot of. He had been a mechanic. He had a lot of grime under his fingernails. So, I was just giving him a little clean up. So, we were actually near the end there, like, quite finished in that sense. And that one we was, we had like, scrub apron type things on the back of the door. And they were hooked on to a hook on the back of the door. And I saw it at the corner of my eye, and it just jumped off the hook! Like jumped off! It wasn’t like there was a wind, or it was blowing or anything. It just popped right off the hook off the back of the door. And so again and like I said, my boss was quite a sceptical man. But again, he was like, wow what !?! Because, there was actually no way that a draft could come into our embalming room. That was quite interesting, too. And so I got the feeling from that one that was just a cheeky person wanting to give us a bit of a start.
Yeah, yeah . Have some fun with you.
Yeah, so you have a bit of a giggle with him. And I was like, you just stop that, young man! Don’t try to be playing games with me. So . . .
That’s a good way to handle it. Yeah. Obviously, initially it would give you a start, but after that, you dealt with it really well, I would say. And for your boss to be a sceptic and work in that area and see stuff like that, it must give him he’s probably not as sceptical as he made out. He was.
No, I don’t believe, especially given how long he has been moving in the industry, which was forty plus years. You couldn’t stay really sceptical. I really think that was just a cover story or a coping mechanism.
Yes. But also, I think if you are more open and spiritually open, like you obviously are, and were back then. Then spirit will make themselves more known to you.
Yes. And I believe that I’ve never seen a spirit with my eyes, except for this one time. In the casket room, and it was just a flash. It would have been half a second, maybe? But, I was going down. We had a family coming in to pick out a casket for their family member. And I just went down to the casket room, just to make sure it was all still in order and tidy. Because, sometimes unknowingly, don’t know how? But sometimes it wouldn’t be an order. I would go and check before we had people coming.
So just out the corner of my eye, and it was just a flash. But it was a silhouette of a man. And I was like, that was odd. And it was just standing in front of one of the caskets that I had made, actually. So I was like, oh, yes. Okay. We used to have champ making caskets and things, and we used to have, like, a little bit of a healthy competition going on about those caskets were chosen more things like that. Anyway, I prepared the rest of the casket room, and the family came in, and they just walked straight immediately, straight to the casket.
And they said, this one! I was trying to explain to them that actually was a display casket. It wasn’t really meant to be used. And it was just one that we had displayed to show some of the things we could do with caskets. And they were like, oh, no, this is perfect. It’s exactly like his boat that he owned. And so I turned the lid of the casket around for them because I had placed a decal on there, and it was a gone fishing with a man fishing off a boat, and they cracked up. They were just in hysterics, and they were just like, this is perfect. This is absolutely perfect. Please. So I had to let them have it. I couldn’t let them have it. But it was just funny, because, I’ve just seen that flash of a person standing right there in front of that one.
I’ve got goose bumps all over me!
I have goose bumps remembering it! It was so surreal. Well, obviously this gentleman wanted that one, and it reminded him of his fishing boat.
And he obviously had a great sense of humour as well.
Yes. And his family did. I mean, it was just so funny. I turned this lid around and they just absolute historic. They were all laughing so hard, and they were like, it’s perfect.
That’s actually really quite touching and lovely. That in the middle of their grief, their raw grief they could appreciate the humour in that. That’s really cool.
Yeah. It was wonderful. And so. Yeah, definitely let them have that casket.
Now, so you lived in the home for a while?
Did you have experiences when you lived in the home?
I did. Yeah. I sure did. I had one night, when I was trying to sleep. And I just couldn’t sleep. We had a little baby in at the time, and I just couldn’t sleep. I could just hear a baby crying all night. And I would tell myself, not the baby, the baby. But that’s all I could hear. All I could hear. And then as soon as they left out here, there was nothing. It was silent again, and I could sleep.
That must have been – That must actually been, well scary for one, but also incredibly sad.
It was actually quite distressing because I’m a woman. So I have those maternal sort of instincts where if you can hear a baby crying, he wants to stop the baby from crying. But, when there’s not an actual baby, you can go and pick up and deal with, and stop from crying. I was like, don’t know what to do? And to be honest, I didn’t know how to handle that situation. Like we’ve talked about with the adults. I’d be like, It’s all right. We can do it. Okay. We’re going to take care of you. And I didn’t really know what to do in the case of this. I didn’t know if there was anything I could say or do. Really? Yeah. That one was a little bit distressing because I didn’t know what to do.
Yeah. I would have – Well, as a mum now, you might handle situation a bit differently.
Yes. And it is interesting. I was very young at the time, so I didn’t have a lot of experience. And now, as a mother, I wish I had, I don’t know, got up and gone to sush, or sush the baby. You know? I don’t know?
Yeah. Wow. That must have been so difficult. I, I, you know, like, it’s enough dealing with death. But dealing with babies and little ones that pass, that’s really difficult. And hearing something like that would be very distressing.
Yeah. That one was quite distressing for me just because, like I say, I was so young, I just didn’t know what to do or how to handle that. Yeah
Have you had a? Ah, before we talk about more experiences when you lived in the home – What is the? Have you had experience that has really scared you?
Well, when I first started, we had a lady come in, and I guess it scared me just to do my job, really. Because, we went and picked her up from her home. As you know, we can pick them straight up from home if a doctor signed off on their cause of death and what not. So, we went and picked her up from her home. And she was just wrapped up, all snuggled up in her blanket from home. And it was lovely. But, it worried me because she was still so warm. You know?
And I don’t know, if people listening would be aware that when you pass away, your body temperature actually rises. It actually gets warmer, before you cool down. So, I was like, oh, but she’s so snuggled up and just leave her snuggled for a while. Yes, so that really threw me off with that lady. And so, that was okay. So I was just looking after. I mean, you’re a nurse. You were used to that. And I always said to my best friend, she’s a nurse. And I always said to her, I couldn’t do that. I don’t, I wouldn’t be able to deal with being a nurse. I’m too anxious, and it scares me. I’ll look after the person when there’s nothing else that can be done. That’s what I will do. That really threw me off.
And like you say, when somebody passes away, there’s just these normal bodily functions that happen. And personally, I have a phobia of choking. So this person was just excelling liquid from her mouth and her nose. And I just, I just panicked. I just shear panicked and I screamed for my boss and he came running and he had to calm me down. I had to go and have a cup of tea. Wow, it’s okay. It’s all right. Anyway, I went back to the lady after I’d calmed down and had been convinced that it was fine and normal. And I apologized to her. I said, I’m so sorry for screaming, and I didn’t mean to scream at you. I kept working with her, but I did feel a hand on my shoulder, after I had apologized. And it almost felt like she was saying to me that it’s almost like she was accompanying me at that point. And it was like a role reversal that we wouldn’t normally have had. But I actually was terrified in that moment. And then, I felt awful for being terrified. I was apologizing, and it felt like she was comforting me. I felt like that’s okay.
It’s actually really lovely. And kind of totally opposite what I was expecting. Like, I was thinking of scary paranormal. And – but that’s actually really touching, that she was concerned about you, to let you know that it’s okay. She didn’t take offence.
Yeah. Honestly, I didn’t have any scary paranormal situations in the funeral home. I’ve had scary paranormal situations outside of the funeral home, but not in there. No. And I always felt like my clients knew that I was just there to look after them. And I had really good intentions.
Intent is everything isn’t it? And I say that all the time in the group, intent is everything. And certainly, they would be aware of your intent for sure. Apart from you verbalizing it, it would show in your energies.
Yes. I just want to tell you this one story. Because, this lady was quite – It was the only time I ever heard something come into my head so forcefully. And it was this lady that I was looking after. And her son was obviously grieving his mother. It was very sad. And he was quite a young man, and a lot of the time. They kind of use, the families use you as sort of a counsellor person to confide in, and what not. I mean, I had instinctively been able to make this lady up to the point where her family would say, oh, my gosh, she looks exactly like she’s just sleeping at home. How did you do that? Look. This is look, look! And, they were just amazed. And they said, look. She just looked exactly like she’s asleep at home. She looked so warm and lovely. And so it was really nice. And so I had built quite a really good rapport with the family. And her son takes me aside and he says to me, I’m thinking about proposing to my girlfriend.
And then, I just got shouted at inside my head. No! I had no personal feelings about whether this man should have not proposed to his girlfriend. But it was intense. It was so intense. And it was like this dread, like, no.! Just like this feeling of dread. So, I just gently suggested to the young man, you know maybe, maybe you should just give it a few months? And just grieve for your mother first? And move past this a little bit. And then think about those things. I don’t know if making big life choices right now is a good idea? So anyway, a few months later, they came in to finalize their account and everything with us. And he pulled me aside again. He says, I’m really glad that you told me to wait. No, we’re broken up now, it was never going to work. And I said, oh, God, I just knew that was his mother. It’s just, no!
Oh, wow. And when you heard it, was it like your own voice? Or, was it another voice?
No. It was not my own voice. And I jumped a little. I gave myself a little jump at the time. Cause that was out of nowhere. Because what was that?
Sometimes the spirit talks to you. It can sound like your own voice in your head. And sometimes it doesn’t. Obviously, in your case. Wow.
I can’t tell you what the voice sounded like. I don’t think it would have sounded like her voice. I don’t know. I don’t know if it was a voice, because it was inside my head. It wasn’t through my ears.
Right. Well, that would have been a really interesting experience. I would say it was.
It was. Yes but, I was pleased to hear.
And great verification.
Yeah, it was. It was. Maybe Mum knew something that the rest of us didn’t, or?
Yeah. Mums generally do, don’t they?
Yeah. Well, as a mother myself now, yes. Absolutely. I can compare with that.
What other sort of experiences did you have living in the home?
This wasn’t. Well, I don’t know if many of them were to do with so much just living in the home, just as my just experiences in general. Living in the home. I was actually quite peaceful. It was quite lovely, to have dinner and watch a bit of tele and off I went to bed. And so, most of the time I didn’t have, like – like even if we had people there and I’d always sign off with them before I went up to my dinner. Or, went off to my quarters, or whatever. I’ll be back in the morning. Blah, blah, blah. But, we had a couple of interesting things. One was, it was quite sad.
So, we had a father coming in and his son had been in a car accident. And he was a young boy, and he was in a terrible position. It was an awful position. His son had passed. So he was in making arrangements with us. But his daughter was an ICU because she was in the same vehicle accident. So, it was just an awful situation for him. He’d come in to do some of the paperwork that we need to get done and try and make a couple of arrangements where we could. And then it was just – I just got this tight chest, just tight chest. Chills, you know? Like goosebumps?
And just the feeling of urgency. And so, I was like, oh, ok! But, I was feeling very uncomfortable with the tight chest and the urgent feeling. And I couldn’t figure out why? I scheduled enough time for us to be able to go through things, and he was talking away. And then he just said to me, what should I do? I don’t know what to do. What should I do? You tell me what to do. And I just said to him, I actually think we should just finish up here right now. We can finish this later. I think you should get up to your daughter, and go and see her. I think that’s where you’re going to be best. And unfortunately, later that afternoon, she left us and joined her brother, but he was able to be there for that.
So, it was just so touching, but also very confusing to me. I was so, so pleased that he got there and could have that time with her before. And could be with her and sit with her when she left us. But it was really confusing to me, because, I didn’t know where that had come from. Do you know what I mean? It was just this odd feeling. And I was like, I don’t know where that come from, or who done that? Is that intuition? Was that her brother saying, no, dad, I’m gone, get to my sister? Awful, completely so sad. So we ended up looking after his sister as well at the same time.
Oh, poor chap!
So, I’m pleased that that happened. Because, that did give him some time with her, and to be there. Because, you’d just feel awful if you were stuck up at the funeral home and missed.
Oh, gosh yes.
Yeah. So that one was quite – that was quite an intense feeling for me. And then, I ended up feeling quite close with the family after, as you do, once you’re so involved with these things. So, yeah that one. And then another one that we had was a gentleman who had committed suicide. But, it was just weird. Because, I was quite convinced from the moment I walked in the room to start looking after him, that he actually hadn’t meant for that to work.
And it was just – I was washing like him down and things. And all I could feel was just regret, just this regret. And that kind of messed me up for a couple of days. Because, like, these feelings, I know they’re not my feelings. So, which is fine. But, that one did kind of mess me up for a couple of days. Because, you’re like, oh dude! Yeah, really? And he had kids. And if I was around his daughter, it just intensified so much for me, this regret. Just this feeling of just absolute regret. And so, it’s really hard for me to actually – you know, you’ve got to try and conceal how you’re feeling, to do your job professionally as well.
So it was – Like I say, it was very confusing a lot of the time. Because, I know they’re not my feelings. But I’m still feeling them. To try and conceal that and do your job, and be empathetic to the family. But, that one bugged me. It bugged me for a while afterwards about. Oh, you’re silly man. It bugged me that he hadn’t really meant to really go. Do you know what I mean?
It was a cry for help.
Oh that’s sad.
So that did suck.
Yeah. I can understand that. And I can understand that it would have taken a while to get over those feelings. Because, it’s one thing to see a person pass because of accident or illness. But in a situation like that, it brings up your own personal feelings as well.
Yeah, it does. And I guess for me, its – I’m as much trying to look after their families as I am them.
Then there were a couple of cases, that I’ve already spoken about. We’ve had the homicide one that we discussed and the suicide one, and the gentlemen with the two children there. I’ve just gone way above and beyond my job description. Like what I’m actually supposed to do to try and help these families moving forward and things. Especially where there are children involved. If there’s anything I can do to try and help, moving forward, then what I try and do. And it makes me feel quite close to these families. And, like, I really need to be trying to do everything that I can. But, yeah, it was confusing as well. Some of the time. When there’s feelings and you’re like, these aren’t my feelings. And you got to learn yourself that these aren’t my feelings.
It’s really great that you had that awareness. Clairsentience is what that’s called. That’s the name. That’s how I work, mostly.
Until you’re able to recognize that these emotions don’t belong to you, it can be very difficult. But you obviously had that innate awareness, that hang on, this is from somewhere else. This doesn’t belong to me. That’s quite a big thing to have that, especially when you’re so young.
Yeah, but being so young, it’s still hard. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, absolutely. Because, you’re still developing emotionally. You’re still finding who you are as a person and dealing with that on top of it is a really big thing. What to you has been the most memorable experience that you’ve had? Memorable paranormal experience?
I’m just trying to think about that. And my career as a funeral director, embalmer. My most memorable one is actually – this was an older woman. And so it was a nice, you know, it was lovely. When I say lovely, she was a good age. She lived her life, and she just died peacefully. She just slipped away and it was . . . So that’s as lovely as you can get, I think, in my opinion. This wasn’t a scary one. This wasn’t a scary one. But what was memorable to me about it was when I was working with her. I was, instinctively – you can ask for families for photos and things of your clients just so that you can make sure you get things right. But you can only ask them for a certain amount of time before you actually have to just get on and do your work. So this time, we haven’t had any break.
But, it was bizarre to me because I don’t remember a lot of actually working. Like, working. I remember talking away to her, but I don’t remember a lot of actually what I was doing with my hands and things. Do you know what I mean? And so I thought she looked lovely. We took her out for a viewing and her family, they were all disgusting. And they were just like, oh, my gosh, that is exactly her makeup. How on Earth did you do that? That’s exactly how she’d get done up to go out to a party, or something. And I was feeling weird because I was like, well, I didn’t, and nor can I. You know when you’re driving somewhere, and then you’re like, oh, shit. I’m here already. How did I get here? And you don’t remember driving? It was exactly like that. I don’t really remember too much doing it.
That’s really interesting. So, I believe that she was sort of influencing you, making sure we got her makeup and her hair, right?
Yeah. And it was, it was just so bizarre because you have these photos that you put on top of caskets and a lot of funeral services. And it was the same! Just exactly the same. And hers was a funeral service where we were attending the grave side, and they were just lowering her down. And I felt just two arms around me. And I was like, oh, you’re welcome.
Aw, that’s lovely.
So for me, that’s my most memorable. Because, that felt the most like, a direct hey thing. Or, a thank you. And I was like, wow, I don’t know what makes it the most memorable for me? But, it was. And I think it was probably just this feeling that I got from the family being so ecstatic. And she did look like this photo. It was crazy. And I wasn’t trying. So for me, it’s most memorable because I’m like, Well, obviously I don’t think I was in charge of that whole process myself. I think that this woman was obviously just very particular about her makeup, and her hair and her presentation. And she wanted it just right. So for me, it’s memorable because I don’t remember. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. That’s really interesting. Yeah. Very particular woman.
And a lovely, just lovely little sweet, ok, bye!
That’s really lovely. Wow. And it’s not often that people get stuff like that.
No. And another thing to me is a little bit like that’s. Lovely. But I’m just the funeral director. What do I get a squeeze for? That’s my job, yeah.
But, it’s like people who thank the nurses, it’s our job. But, our patients still appreciate what we do for them. Why should you be any different? Especially, you know, when you’re dealing with the grieving family as well. So these people, these souls would appreciate. Your clients would appreciate the fact that you go out of your way to help their family as well.
And I suppose that’s right. The families will often give you a little bit of a hug, too. Say thank you. And all of that, I suppose it’s not that different, really. When you think about it.
Now, I can’t remember what experiences you put in the group that you mentioned.
I was just reading, because, there’s a couple I’ve forgotten to mention.
Yeah, yeah. Thank you.
So, quite often when I was working with somebody and I was like, working on them, you get to humming as everybody does when they’re working. If I wasn’t talking, I was humming or I was doing something I’m a little bit of, I can’t just be quiet and focus on one thing, type of person. But, quite often, and it was like it just became normal for me. But, quite often I just get random songs stuck in my head, and they’d be all random tunes that I wasn’t even aware of stuck in my head. But I’d be humming away. And then they would be songs that would either come on the radio.
Or, and this happened often enough for me to start thinking it was a thing. They would be used in the funeral as like a song that was related to the client. So, yeah, a lot of people do the photo slide shows with songs playing in the background, and quite often it would be one of those songs I heard that song. Oh, that’s right. We were humming it, and things like that. And it was just a weird little thing that used to happen, which I just found quite interesting because some of these songs I either hadn’t heard for years, or a couple of times didn’t particularly like, but was humming them, you know? Not like it was a favourite song of mine, or anything.
And then, one tune I didn’t even know. But then, I was like, oh I thought I’d made it up to be fair. I thought I was some kind of budding genius, coming up with song lyrics whilst I was working, but it actually wasn’t. That was the song that they ended up playing at the funeral. No, I’m not a musical genius that can just come up with songs off the top of my head.
Oh, that’s funny!
I’ve always wanted to be musical. Yes, because I have always wanted to be musical, but unfortunately, it’s not actually my strong suite. So, that was a bit disappointing for me.
The other one that I had was a young man, another cheeky young man. You’d be surprised how many young men get described as being cheeky when you talk to their families and what not? But when I was working on him, bits of my hair, we’re getting flicked up and I could feel breath down my neck and just little tweaks of my hair. And it wasn’t even just while I was working on him the whole time that we had him with us. I could be in the office or the casket room, or anywhere else. Making a bloody cup of tea. And then ,the next minute my hair’s going like this. And it was just real cheeky , you know? The family said he was such a cheeky wee thing. Pranking people and making jokes and doing things. They, were telling me all these stories about the practical jokes that he used to get up to. And the balancing the bucket on the top of the door with the water in it. And like, real trickster type of thing. Yeah, I would just acknowledge him. Yes, yes, very funny. Come on. And then I’d say his name and I was like, come on, mate.
And of course you were young. A young girl, a young male, you know? It’s a normal thing.
Yeah. The breathing down my neck got me a bit.
Yeah, that would have been a bit creepy!
Like I say. So many of these things would coincide with when we had people in the home. And then, it would stop once they were gone. And they were obviously going with their family, or moving on. One though, I did go to see a psychic, and she said she could see this young boy with me. And she said that it wasn’t related to me or anything. Actually, she thought he was from my work. And she didn’t know what I did at the time. And so, yeah, obviously had a little bit of a clinger there for a little while. Yeah, that’s alright. I don’t think he stayed for too long, but yeah. It was just funny that I’d gone to see this person at the time, and she said, I think he’s related to your work. What do you do?
That’s really interesting. So in the home, like, apart from the ones that you’ve told us about, were there other things, like knockings? And footsteps? And stuff like that?
Yeah look, and there were. And that was just so normal for me that it didn’t bother me anymore. You know, like – because, we would have the doors go. The doors would open and shut. Like I say, the casket room always getting messed with. And it wasn’t me. And it wasn’t my boss. He swore it wasn’t him, because, I was accusing him left, right, and center of going and messing up my casket room. Things just like the little casket pins. And then, that’d be on the shelf. Next minute, they’re knocked off the shelf, down the back, or whatever. And I’m like, did you go in there again? I can’t find this casket pin. I haven’t even been in there! Little doors opening, shutting. Technical things, a lot of computer glitchy. And we had a giant vinyl machine, so that we could cut out some of these decals to, like, personalize caskets a little bit more, where clients wanted. And then, that would fritz out. We’d have to try to restart that again. My coffee machine, which I wasn’t impressed about. I started talking to people about that, but just don’t mess with my coffee with them. Leave it alone.
I can understand that! Being a coffee person myself.
Yeah, just things like that. And I don’t even know if this was a paranormal experience, but I did growl anyway. Because, I was having a shower. And I hopped out the shower, and just dried myself off. And then, all of a sudden, the temperature just went just real cold! And I was like, this is my personal space. So, had a bit of a growl there.
Actually, that’s a very – if that was your first instinctive reaction, then that was correct. One last thing before we do finish, have you ever had a client that you have felt was really, evil, for want of a better word?
No. I don’t think I’ve had a client that I felt was evil, or nasty or anything. I’ve definitely felt another homicide case, I’ve definitely felt energy around the situation. And most likely, the perpetrator. And when I was working with this woman, I felt sad, a lot. Like a sad life, type situation. But, it made me incredibly uncomfortable when people were talking about what had happened. It made me incredibly uncomfortable. So, I believe that the perpetrator in that situation, who was unfortunately known to the victim. Was probably a very evil, evil person. And it was difficult, because, it was in the news a lot too. And just working with her, you get this feeling of that man is evil. And hers was a very sad life. That’s how I got the feeling from them. So no, not a client. I definitely felt something evil outside of that situation, in my personal life. Which scared the living of bejesus out of me. I’m happy to share if you want?
I was sixteen. And bulletproof as you are at sixteen. And for one reason, my friends and I had been messing around with Ouija board, and I was still sceptical that my friend was moving this coin to freak me out, or to scare me. So I decided to do one on my own. Yeah, and this is scary. This was terrifying for me. So, I find myself sitting there with my Ouija board and calling things. And then next minute it starts answering, and I was desperately, desperately, desperately wanting to talk to my great Aunt who had just passed away. I was very close with her. And I’d gone through a bit of depression, just really missing her after she passed away, and I was very upset. So I was really hoping that maybe I could get her if no one else was around. Maybe I could get her to talk? So, the board’s moving and I’m sort of impatient and I’m asking, is this my Aunty? And it’s going, yes. But then some of the other answers, we’re not adding up to things she would say. Or, the way she would answer questions or anything like that. And I’m kind of freaking out in and of myself that it’s actually moving when it’s just me as well. So, just bear that in mind. I’m having this, like crazy, Oh my God, It’s actually working! And then, I started to become quite scared. Because, I was like, I don’t actually think this is my Aunty. And why would it be pretending to be my Aunty if it’s not? So, I got quite worried.
So, I was trying to say goodbye to this thing and it wouldn’t say goodbye. And I took my finger off the coin and the coin just started moving towards me by itself, just by itself. I wasn’t touching it. And it moved off the board! And it was coming towards my person. And, I was so scared. And I picked it back up again and put it back on the board. And I was like, I’m going to go now. Okay? It just kept coming off the board and coming across the carpet towards me. This coin across carpet towards my person. And I was terrified. And I just ran and I didn’t close the board. I didn’t finish anything. I just ran outside. And I just refused to go back inside the house for two, or three hours. Until somebody else got home. Because, I was just so terrified. Because, it felt so threatening to me. And I couldn’t understand why this coin was coming at me. And it clearly wasn’t who I thought I was trying to talk to, so. That’s been my most terrifying paranormal experience.
That would have been. That would have been really scary. You sensitive enough to energies, obviously. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have had all these experiences to recognize when something’s not right. So what did you do? Did you cleanse your home afterwards?
Yeah, I had to build up quite a bit of courage before I could do much. To be fair. I think I actually went and slept in my twin brother’s room for, like, three nights. And then I was like, okay, I got to do something because I’ve watched enough horror movies to know that you don’t just leave these things unattended. So, yeah, I had to wait till everybody was gone. Because, I couldn’t tell my mother I’d been playing with a Ouija board. I had to wait until I was gone. I got a couple of my friends around to come and help me. We did the cleansing of my house, and then . . . It was just scary, though. It was just so scary!
That’s a very good cautionary tale. And probably a good way to end our conversation. Perhaps, not so good for people listening, if they’re listening at night. Might give them the creeps, a bit. Jenna, thank you so much for agreeing to come and share your experiences. It’s been a very, very interesting chat
Thank you for having me.
I want to again thank Jenna for being so brave as to come and share her experiences with us all. It can be very scary and daunting for some guests, especially since Walking the Shadowlands is listened to in over eighty-five different countries. And also, I approached her in my online group, out of the blue. So, it was very kind of her to agree to share with us all. And I really appreciate her patience in waiting for this episode to air. I have to say, it’s so good to be back with you all. And I’m excited to see what this new season will bring for us all.
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