Hard Case Hangover: A Mortician's Journey Down Recovery Road by Monica Torres

Posted By: Monica Torres Funeral Profession Blog, News, Student NEWS,

Hard Case Hangover:

A Mortician's Journey Down Recovery Road


Monica Torres

International Technical Trainer, Fear Fighter,
 and Owner of NXT Generation Mortuary Support

The federal COVID-19 PHE declaration ended on May 11, 2023. By the end of 2022 I began to experience signs of exhaustion, restlessness, mood fluctuations, minimizing grief of others, trouble sleeping, weight gain and even avoidance of certain clients and cases. I felt alone, guilty and ashamed at the way I was feeling. My feelings of loneliness and shame were short-lived however. On my travels around the US and Canada I began to hear stories from other morticians that were eerily close to mine. I have experienced truly moving testimony, accounts of severe anxiety and admission of suicidal ideations from colleagues of all ages, experience levels and recorded time in the deathcare profession.

Conversations around the slab, in the hearse, around the front desk of the funeral home, and at convention led me to realize that this is an important conversation that needs to be discussed out in the open among us professionals.

If we can admit that the issue exists we can work towards healing together and get back to serving families with the same passion we had pre-pandemic.

The reality is that morticians, like many other health care professionals are at risk for compassion fatigue, alcohol/drug abuse, overeating, suicide, anxiety disorders, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and STS (secondary traumatic stress) issues. What I have gathered over the year of 2023 in my countless conversations with colleagues, is that the following symptoms have impacted a majority of morticians:



-Inability to embrace complexity

-Inability to listen, avoidance of clients

-Anger and cynicism



-Chronic exhaustion and fatigue

-Physical ailments



-Overwhelming tension

“Staff shortages, haunting images in the prep room and 2nd hand trauma related scenarios we face in the arrangement room on a daily basis leave us at greater risk for intense burn out.” -Torres

Some of these symptoms were present prior to 2020 but, most of the professionals I spoke with admitted to experiencing most or all of them post pandemic. Now that the conversation is on the embalming table, I want to invite you to my upcoming seminar hosted by the Independent Funeral Directors of Florida https://www.hammockbeach.com/ during our annual convention, Wednesday May 29, 2024 -Saturday June 1, 2024. We will be confronting this difficult issue and working together as an association to try and begin to heal as a family.

My presentation will be technically focused on embalming and I will share some of the most difficult cases of my career along with the successes and the failures for each case. Finally, I will share some of the techniques I have found to help remedy my “hardcase hangovers.” Like many of you, I am still working through my battle to fight compassion fatigue. I promise I will candidly and authentically share my experiences, what has worked for me, what hasn’t and what I am considering to reach full recovery.

To follow me on my journey to care for the dead and comfort the grieving connect with me on Instagram or facebook @coldhandshosts.

I am really looking forward to connecting with you all in 2024!! Until next summer……Happy Embalming XOXO