A DORSET woman has finally realised her true “calling” in life – following a long family connection to a sector based around death.

The career of an embalmer is seldom celebrated. After all, the only time we may come into direct contact with one is during preparation for the voyage into the great unknown.

However, the act preserving human remains is a complex act of science and, to some, form of art.

So, how does one get into such work? For 40-year-old Sharon Meader, you could say it’s in her blood.

Growing up in a family with a long tradition of working in funeral care, from a young age Sharon always felt predilection towards looking after the older members of her local community.

But having started her own family at a young age, Sharon says she never had the chance to contemplate her desired career path.

Knowing she had a knack for working with the elderly, she signed up to become a carer with several agencies providing specialised support for senior members of her community in Dorset.

It was only in 2016 that Sharon, in her mid-thirties, allowed herself to explore the possibility of turning back to her family’s roots in funeral care.

She struck up a conversation with a friend who was working as a freelance embalmer at the time, travelling across Dorset, Devon, Southampton and Isle of Wight to support local funeral homes prepare those who have died for the final viewing with their loved ones.

Intrigued by the work and moved by the level of care involved, Sharon decided to dedicate her days off to assisting her friend in embalming.

A few months later, Sharon ultimately joined her friend as a full-time freelance embalmer.

“There is no law to say you need to be qualified to be an embalmer, especially when working under the supervision of a certified professional,” said Sharon. “But I always felt like a fraud taking care of people’s loved ones without being able to prove my skill through a certification.”

With an urge to feel wholly prepared and qualified, Sharon joined the Co-op Funeralcare in Poole in 2019 with aspirations of commencing her British Institute of Embalming course right away.

Sharon was able to enrol in the summer of 2021 after delays due to the pandemic and has been studying for just over a year.

She said: “Even this early on, I can see how embalming has always been my calling. Coming from a family in funeral care and with my background as a career, it’s all coming together that what I truly wanted to do was make sure, in the very last moments of someone’s presence in their loved ones’ lives, that they look like they’re finally at peace.

“Becoming an embalmer is taking my love for looking after the elderly to the next – and final – step of making sure they receive all the time, attention and care they deserve at the end of their life.”

Visit coop.co.uk/funeralcare/advice/what-is-embalming for more information.