Death will never conquer Cole Sartell

Ben Lippert

Ben LippertJuice Editor

Everyone has a story to tell. Most of these great stories go unheard by the general public because they aren’t considered “news worthy.” Check out The Juice throughout the semester to hear an average student’s story.

Ben: To many people death is a sensitive and often unpleasant subject; to freshmen pre-mortuary science major, Cole Sartell, it’s just another day at the office. He works part-time at Rude’s Funeral Home in Brookings. Cole also grew up in a funeral home – literally!

Cole: I help with the visitations and the funerals, and some of the other office stuff when we make the folders. I’ve become a master at folding paper.

Ben: What’s it like dealing with families that are going through loss? I’m sure that’s pretty tough… how do you react?

Cole: It’s weird getting used to at first. I don’t want to say you get used to it, but you can do more things, you can talk to them. It’s not like I don’t feel anything, I just don’t really show it because it’s my job.

Ben: Yeah, you kind of have to detach yourself from the whole death experience.

Cole: And it depends on who it is too because I had a friend who came in here… I’m not going to say who it was, but that was a little difficult but you’ve gotta be there to help other people.

Ben: That would be hard. Brookings is a small enough community that you might know a lot of people that come in here. What is that like?

Cole: I have friends from college that will come in here and it makes it better for them to see me and I can talk to them and help them.

Ben: Talk about the pre-mortuary science program at SDSU.

Cole: It’s basically just the general studies classes. The math…the math, the math…biology, and all that fun stuff (mocking). Just getting that over with so I can go to a mortuary college.

Ben: So how much schooling do you have after you get your generals from SDSU?

Cole: It would be another two years, and then you take the national funeral directors exam- which I don’t want to take because it’s gonna be really hard and it’s going to suck. But you take that, and then you intern at a funeral home, so it’s still schooling but you’re not at a university.

Ben: So talk about Rude’s. Do you guys dress the bodies and take care of everything here?

Cole: We do all that here. We do all the general stuff here and if there’s a cremation we take that down to Sioux Falls.

Ben: I noticed there’s a TV in the chapel. Is that for slideshows?

Cole: Yep, sometimes the family brings pictures and we scan them onto a computer or they bring their own video in and we can just plug that into the TV with a USB port.

Ben: I don’t mean to be insensitive, but people die everyday and it’s just a part of life. I suppose you feel pretty good about your job security… is what I’m getting at.

Cole: (laughing…) You do. You do feel really good about that. But, it’s a job.

Ben: What positions are there in a funeral home?

Cole: There’s the director, someone who works part-time (like me), then there’s the embalmer.

Ben: I guess I should have asked you this first, but how did you get involved with all this? Where does your interest come from?

Cole: Well, my grandparents used to be funeral directors in Minnesota. It wasn’t theirs, but they lived at the funeral home. I always remember this story. They lived on the top floor and they had the funeral home on the middle and the bottom floor. We went over there for Easter one time, and they did an Easter egg hunt in the funeral chapel. I always remember that and I always find that kind of funny. I guess that’s kind of how I found out about it (funeral direction).

Ben: Is it spooky ever? Being around death all the time.

Cole: It depends on the facility…

Ben: Do you believe in ghosts or haunting?

Cole: I believe there’s something out there. I don’t know what it is but there’s gotta be something.

Ben: Do you ever just get that weird sensation?

Cole: If I’m alone and it’s dark. I’ve done that a few times; I’ve been here cleaning at night. It’s not as bad as an older house, like an older mansion that I’ve been around at night. It’s not too bad. You get used to it.

Ben: Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone that’s depressed by this right now?

Cole: Well, someone’s gotta do it. It’s more about just helping the individuals. And everybody dies; you’re not gonna stop that. And we just gotta be there to help those people who aren’t really ready to handle that in their lives yet.

See the full interview and photos from Rude’s Funeral Home at The Collegian’s website under the “Juice” tab.

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