The 19-year old was just a grade 9 student at Mt Alvernia High School in St. James, Jamaica when she developed a passion of being a mortician.
“I heard the term somewhere, but the memory is a bit vague, I just remember saying I am going to try this. I don’t think that is normal because nobody just gets up and says they are going to pursue a career in funeral service, but I did,” Aaliya told the Jamaica Observer West.
Her mother was so supportive of her dream career that she found her a voluntary job at the Delapenha Funeral Home in Montego Bay where she volunteered for a month after she graduated from high school at the age of 16 years.
“I didn’t have a career path at the time, so I was exploring and that drew my interest. I told my mom about It, and she got me the opportunity to do voluntary service at the funeral home that I am working at now,” Aaaliya said.
During her first day at work, everything was fine, she was not scared of the dead bodies, but when she got home all hell broke loose.
“I had never seen a dead body a day in my life, but when I came, I wasn’t scared. I was determined to give this a shot, so I was helping to embalm a body…everything went fine. But once I got home that evening, I was alone and I was so traumatized. Cold sweat washed me and everybody that I saw that day replayed in my head. I could not sleep, I was screaming. It was a disaster and I had to call a friend to calm me down,” she narrated.
The ordeal however made her more courageous and after voluntary service, she enrolled for an associate degree in funeral service and mortuary science at the Montego Bay Community College (MBCC).
“I really have a passion for this. I just feel like it is an honor to take care of someone’s loved one for the last time. My favorite part is embalming because with that process we bring back life to them basically,” Aaliya said.
She currently offers funeral services and intends to venture into other careers.
“I only visit the morgue if I choose to. So, if I feel like it has been a while since I’ve embalmed a body then I’ll go and help. I do funerals, obituaries, and death notices…so I assist the drivers and the family with anything that they need,” Aaliya said.