Kimberly Seaman is the cool girl everyone wants to know. A walking juxtaposition, she spends her weekdays suited up for her job as a funeral director and her weekends riding a Harley. Sporting countless tattoos and a rad haircut, Kimberly is an academic with a Masters in Agronomy. She spent years working for an environmental consulting and engineering company in California before realizing her true calling in the death profession.
She moved back to her hometown of Nashville to pursue a degree in Mortuary Science, graduating as valedictorian of her class and quickly moving up in ranks at Nashville’s largest funeral home, eventually becoming location manager. I spoke with her to learn more about her career and what passions drew her to it:
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
When I wake up, I pick out which suit I will be wearing for the day. In the funeral profession, dress code and presentation are extremely important and can be somewhat strict. You have to present your best professional self to clients. For some of these people, it is the worst day of their lives. You have a small amount time to instill a large amount of trust. First impressions are everything.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wish I could answer this in a straightforward manner but every single day is completely different! I never know what I am going to walk into when I arrive at work. One day it’s quiet and a great opportunity to catch up on the mountains of paperwork we have to complete, and the next day we could have gotten 13 death calls overnight.
I am responsible for meeting with the families to make the funeral arrangements then executing all of the plans and conducting the services. My job entails a ton of responsibilities. I order all of the supplies for the funeral home, type death certificates, deal with insurance companies, make slideshows for families, order caskets, schedule burials. My hand is in all of it. From the very first day of mortuary college, this phrase is hammered into your head - “If you are looking for a nine to five, then this is not for you.” Death occurs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and it doesn’t take holidays. My job never stops.
How did you decide you were interested in the death profession?
I was looking for a career path that would allow me to help people in some way but at the time, I wasn’t sure what that looked like. A friend of mine mentioned I explore the industry. After doing some in depth research and taking one online course about the history of funeral directing, I was absolutely hooked.
Your personal interests are very different from your day job persona. How do you balance your career with your outside hobbies and passions?
I get to lead a "Superman" life. I am Clark Kent at work and then turn into someone completely different when I get home. I appreciate the ability to get to be two different people. A lot of professionals don’t get that opportunity. My personal time and my time at work will never cross over. The one commonality between those two worlds is my personality remains the same. I don’t have act like a different person at work. I get the opportunity to showcase and utilize all aspects of my personality, whether it’s the super focused and organized side or the creative and artsy side.
How do you relax?
You have to have a super strong sense of self-motivation and drive in this industry. If you don’t have that, this profession will bury you. That being said, it’s easy to get exhausted and overwhelmed. Not only are you trying to help people make decisions who have just lost someone they loved, you are also having to make sure that nothing has slipped through the cracks. So, relaxing and taking time for myself is necessary. Riding my motorcycle, being with friends, going to see great live shows and looking for the next piece in my taxidermy collection are all ways I take some time for myself.
What’s the one thing you MUST do before you go to bed?
I have to brush my teeth and apply chapstick. If I get those two things done, I’m out like a light.
Kate Mason is a certified life coach, specializing in the beautiful mess that is motherhood. She has a healthy obsession with brunch, the color black, and books about the Beats. The guys at her favorite liquor store know her and her daughter by name.
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