‘Dressing the dead is a joy for me’

November 07, 2019
Racquel Reid
Racquel Reid
Racquel Reid on duty at a funeral home in Kingston.
Racquel Reid on duty at a funeral home in Kingston.

"Dressing the dead is a joy for me. I treat them like they're my loved ones, I handle them with care and passion when me a dress dem and look after them," a proud Racquel Reid told THE STAR, sitting inches away from a viewing room.

Reid has been working at a funeral home in Kingston for 24 years. She reflects on when she just started working there, and was only tasked with cleaning up the bodies. Now, after a much appreciated promotion, she is dressing the dead.

"When me just start come here fi work, me neva really come fi dress bodies. But me boss seh him a put me up some more ... Him tell me seh him a go put me up likkle more, because me used to do like tidying up, but me pass da stage deh now," she said.

At first, her stomach wasn't strong enough for what the job required, but as time passed, yesterday's disturbing challenge transformed into today's joy.

Face to face with ghosts

"Me did come and see one lady a look after one body and she stuff di mouth and put a cotton in a di eye fi it close di eye. In a di mouth now, me neva like da part deh. Me did feel like me wah vomit. A da likkle scary part deh me did fraid of. When di cotton a go in a the nose, the first time it sound a way. But now, a me tek it over completely. It's just like a joy fi dress dem," Reid said with a smile.

While some people who work in funeral homes claim to come face to face with ghosts, Reid has suh such experiences.

"Sometimes a me alone in here so, and me hear a likkle sound but me nuh mek it frighten me or nothing, and me nuh really go look because me know seh di person weh me a look after dead already. Me caan tell a way but sometimes you woulda hear like a likkle banging, you woulda hear a liikle knocking round deh suh or yuh hear a likkle movements. But me know nobody nuh round there suh. A just me and the body whe me a dress."

She told THE STAR that 'work is just work', and outside of that space, all is well. There are no rituals she practices or believes in.

"I don't do anything like that. When I go home, I don't bring work with me, I don't have dreams about anything at work, I leave everything here. Me always tell me self seh me nuh wah see nuh ghost. People talk seh dem see ghost or see spirit, but me neva see any yet," she said.

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