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Gun violence increase has emotional toll on funeral home employees, deathcare profession

Gun Violence Increase Has Emotional Toll on Funeral Home Employees, Deathcare Profession
Posted at 8:30 AM, May 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-08 10:27:29-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — More than just loved ones are impacted by the increase in gun violence in Lexington. Members of the deathcare profession in Lexington said it’s taken a mental and emotional toll on them.

“A lot of people would think you get used to seeing something like this, but you never get used to seeing something that was caused by evil intentions and evil people,” said Brandon Haddix, the owner of Bluegrass Embalming Service and Transportation.“15 to 20 second of anger will end up with 24 to 48 hours of hardship and work on our end,”

He works to prepare bodies for funerals or cremation. Working on the bodies of people who died due to gun violence is more difficult for multiple reasons, he said.

“It takes a toll on you mentally and emotionally, we don't like to see that sort of thing,” he said.

Before the pandemic he handled two homicides a month, he said. Now he handles two to three a week. He said people he has spoken with across the profession in the state have felt a similar impact because of the gun violence.

Ronnie Woolfolk, who himself was shot in 2016, works at the funeral home O.L. Hughes and Sons. He too said the increase in gun violence has taken toll on people in his profession like himself. Oftentimes, he picks up the call from grieving families who need to bury a member of their family.

“You can hear the hurt, you can hear the pain, you can hear the brokenness that they are feeling on the inside,” Woolfolk said.

After his own shooting, he understands even more acutely just how quickly a life can end.

“Lean on one another because you'll never know when your last day might be, you never know when you'll get that call that someone has been taken from gun violence,” he said.

More people are leaving the business than are entering, Haddix said. The business is difficult to be in, he admits. Even if he wanted to leave, he said this is all he knows how to do. “Can’t afford to go back to school, and here I am,” he said.