First person: Mortician finds comfort in helping grieving families

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Katy Marteny took her passion for helping people to mortuary school in Nebraska. She works as one of the few female funeral service practitioner in Clovis.

Katy Marteny, 24, is one of the few female funeral service practitioners in Clovis. She took her passion for helping people to mortuary school in Nebraska. Marteny and her husband relocated to Clovis in January 2008 when her husband got a job with the railroad.

One woman band: As funeral service practitioners, we do everything. We help families make arrangements, embalm, get the body ready for the wake, and even remove the bodies from their death bed.

Funerals are for the living: It takes a special person to do this job. It doesn’t take any specific characteristics, but the ability to deal with the sadness of a family losing someone they love and being able to keep it separate from your own life. I just want to help families at the time in their life when they’ve lost someone they love.

Difficulties: What I find most difficult are the tragic deaths, at any age really. It’s so unexpected that it’s harder on the family. It can also be difficult when the family is torn about the arrangements. Sometimes we have to be mediator.

Triumphs: I like working with people. If we’ve done our job, we’ve made their time of grievance easier. That’s all I want to do.

Nebraska to New Mexico: It was a bit of a culture shock moving here, especially with the weather. It’s windy in Nebraska but not as often and not as dusty. And the scenery is completely different. There’s a lot of trees and just green in general, which there isn’t here, but it wasn’t too hard to adapt.

College girl: One of my goals was to get my bachelor’s degree and Eastern New Mexico University is one of the few universities that offers forensic science as a bachelor’s degree. Forensics is something that really interests me. I like the hands on investigating to find out how and why someone died. Even though I know it’s not realistic, I could watch CSI for hours and hours.

— Compiled by Liliana Castillo, CNJ staff writer