Local Detroit Woman Brings Light in Life’s Darkest Times

ach year, Halloween is marked by the demonization of death. But it is the fear of the unknown-what happens after we pass on-that most people would call "scary." Here is where Marie Taylor steps in to create something beautiful.

"You have to learn how to separate it," Taylor says. "Sometimes you have to think of something else, like a beautiful ocean or a vacation-anything."

As a licensed embalmer and funeral director at the Heard and Taylor Family Funeral Home in Detroit, she carries the heaviness and hardships of death each day, while maintaining an unwavering enthusiasm for the celebration of life in front of grieving clients.

"You can't break down. You have to be a strong figure for that family. They're depending on you to pull them through what they're going through."

Hers is one of Detroit's only funeral homes operated by all women-three total. Taylor has been a licensed funeral director for 10 years.


Helping families grieve, she says, is her favorite-yet most challenging-part of the job.

"Sometimes no matter what you do, it's still not perfect or the way they want it, when in reality, it is," Taylor says. "You have to put that to the side and just realize what they're going through. Later they'll come to me and say, 'I was just so upset, but I really want to thank you.'"

Still, the job can sometimes be emotionally draining. In particular, the case of a 26-year-old mother she handled this year, who was found raped, hogtied and burned in a duffle bag.

"To see her body the way it was, and to see what a human can do to another human being. That was a tough case, and it's still in the back of my mind," Taylor says. "To be able to put a person back together, and make them look as much like themselves as possible-it's a passion." One that outweighs the greatest of fears.

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