What is work for? There are obvious reasons, like the need to earn money and have a purpose in life. But work is also a social activity. Countless friendships, relationships and marriages owe their existence to people meeting at work. For a start, if people are in the same line of business, they’re already likely to have many interests and tastes in common. They can share experiences, swap stories, ask each other for advice.
However, most people we meet aren’t in the same line of business. That’s no problem if you’re a teacher or an office-worker, but what happens if you work in an industry that the general public find disturbing or even distasteful? It’s all very well to tell someone at a party that you work in a flower-shop or repair motorbikes for a living, but what about telling people that you work in a funeral parlour or perform autopsies? That can be a conversation-stopper or spark morbid curiosity. Unless you’re actually in the funeral industry, it can be hard to accept that death is something natural or to understand that work with dead bodies is an essential public service.
So people in the funeral industry often keep quiet about their jobs or even pretend to be something they’re not. It sometimes happens that two people in the funeral industry can meet and have a conversation without either side letting slip what he or she actually does for a living. But now there’s a solution to problems like that – and to the fact that the funeral industry is never very big in any particular part of the country.
Step forward Carla Valentine, a museum curator who worked with animal specimens all day and found it difficult to go on dates with people who weren’t in the same line of business. Her solution was to create a new kind of dating service specifically for people working in what she called the “death industry”. The service is called Dead Meet and it allows funeral workers, taxidermists, anatomists and others like them to look for friendship or love with someone who isn’t going to judge them or find the work that they do disturbing or unusual.
Dead Meet has other advantages. It’s online, so it brings together people who might otherwise never hear of each other and it allows a potential relationship to start safely and in a relaxed way. It’s also a way for those outside the profession to decide whether they’d like to join it. Perhaps a young person is thinking of a job in the funeral industry, but doesn’t know anyone in real life who they put questions to or ask advice from.
Now that Dead Meet is here, that problem is solved. Expert advice and decades of experience are there at the click of a mouse. Dead Meet already has five thousand members and is already helping to improve the social side of a profession that most people would prefer not to think about or discuss. That’s unfair, but also understandable. Death is a disturbing business, in all senses of the word, but that’s one reason that the death industry performs a vital public service. It shields ordinary people from the unpleasantness and ugliness, so that they can get on with their everyday lives.