Death becomes hobby after life experiences

cristycrossFraser grew up admiring the beauty of cemeteries and gravestones. Cemeteries are where she bonded with her mother as a young child and now this is where she bonds with her son.

Photo by Lisa Taylor
Each year, Calgarians pursue careers in the funeral business. Some are attracted by the unusual nature of the industry, while others are drawn to it because they want to help people going through pain and loss. For 39-year-old Calgarian Cristy Fraser, her decision to pursue funeral directing has been on her radar since she was a young girl.

Growing up in Calgary, Fraser says death and the "dark side" always intrigued her. Her mother taught her not to be afraid of death and it's a normal part of life. In fact, she and her mother used to visit cemeteries often as a way to spend time with each other in peaceful places.

Fraser says being a funeral director is a "calling" and she always knew she would end up working in a funeral home.

"Some little girls grow up with the intentions of getting married, playing bride, etcetera," Fraser says. "I was never that girl."

She says loss has been a dominant theme in her life — another factor that shaped her career path. Fraser experienced numerous deaths within her circle of family and friends as well as a second-term miscarriage. Instead of letting personal tragedy bring her down, she says she chose to embrace the loss and pursue her passion —funeral directing.

Cristy's story. 

Produced by Joel Dryden, Lydia Dedora and Lisa Taylor

She hopes to use her experiences to help others during such difficult times.

"When someone loses their loved ones, that's the hardest time in their life," Fraser says. "And I like to be there for them."

Fraser is now enrolled at Mount Royal University and hopes to graduate with a Funeral Services diploma.

Janet Arnold, one of Fraser's professors, says, "It takes a special kind of person to be a funeral director and I believe Cristy has what it takes to make it in the business."

She says Fraser represents the many women who make up her classes. "Before, funeral services was like a 'gentlemen's club' — it was a business run by men. But now I actually see more women enrolled in my classes than men."

cross copyFraser says she accepts death as just a normal part of life.

Photo by Lisa Taylor

Fraser is working at Pierson's Funeral Service Ltd. for her internship within the MRU program. "I'm just thrilled that I get to do this and work in a funeral home," she says. "I feel at home here. I feel like this is where I should have been years ago and I am so excited." In the future, Fraser hopes to eventually open her own funeral home.

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CORRECTION: Cristy Fraser had a miscarriage 18 years ago, not 25, as stated in the video. We appologize for this error. 

 

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