Ever found it difficult to talk to non-industry friends about your job? Dead Meet aims to change that.
It’s a networking and dating tool for those working in the death industry. Susan Morris, a palliative care nurse who just finished her MSc in Death and Society, thinks that it is a wonderfully innovative way to bring people in the industry together, ‘You usually only network if you go to academic conferences. There’s a lot of death professionals that are not in the academic field. I’m used to networking with death academics but someone who works in a museum it’s less easy for them to cross boundary networks. I think it will be more networking from a professional perspective. I’ve joined.’
Morris isn’t alone. In its first week it attracted seventy members, all through word of mouth.
So who is the mastermind behind this ingenious site?
I sat down with Carla Valentine to find out her inspiration.
Valentine is no stranger to the industry. She has had an interest in the field since she was ten and says she, ‘just knew it was something she wanted to do’. She spent several years as an Anatomical Pathology technician before moving to her current position as Technical Curator at Barts Pathology Museum.
Two month’s in development, Dead Meet launched last week and word spread rapidly and the site now boasts a global membership. She says if anybody was going to come up with the idea it was going to be her.
‘I blog about sex and death, so for someone to do a dating site for death professionals it had to be me. So, I didn’t really care how it was perceived I just had to get it out there.
I though that once I had the idea, I just had to do it. I’m not a natural website designer, even the basic stuff is real struggle for me so its just been an absolute slog. The sites functional but I know that the problem is it’s not really reaching its potential at the moment with user forums and things like that.
I just thought, I have to do it no matter what happens; even if it was just for the laughter value really because it was just so funny! Everyone kept coming out with puns like, are you dying to meet someone special or are you looking for a relationship for life, it lends itself to all these puns. For the comedy value it had to be done.
It didn’t cost me a lot, but it’s worth it just because I got my brainchild out there.’
Although her current partner is not in the industry, she says her inspiration came from the experience she had using conventional dating sites.
‘This is the weird thing actually, I am with someone. I’ve been with him for nearly two years and he’s not in the industry at all. However, I met him on a dating site.
I know that when I went on my dating site you can look for people with keywords and if you did put in something like embalmer in you wouldn’t get any hits; or if you put in funeral director you might get one. Partly maybe that’s what gave me the idea.
But I was also having a conversation with a friend over dinner about my days as an APT in mortuaries and just basically how it’s really difficult to meet people in the same industry because you tend to see the same faces all the time.
Also, working in an industry like this there is an expectation that you don’t talk about your job. So you can’t go home and say I had this really awful day because its all confidential. So you find yourself pining to find somebody in the same industry so you can discuss it and empathise.’
I guess when I was looking for someone I did just think, maybe it’s worth finding someone I can talk about my job with. Maybe people are shy about what they do and don’t want to put funeral director in, I don’t know, but I could never find any but I know they’re out there.’
Seeming like a male dominated industry, I asked if she was worried if there would be enough women to join the site and Valentine was quick to point out that:
‘Actually it’s the opposite, when I first started working as an APT it was completely male dominated, I was in a team of four men in the second job. By the time I got to eight years into the job I was in a team of seven women. One of the only embalmers I know is female, most of the APTs are female and if you look on Dead Meet there’s too many females. So actually we need to get some more men.’
Valentine decided to add the social networking aspect after running into trouble trying to locate a professional in the field.
‘I was trying to find an embalmer for an event and I just couldn’t get a hold of one, I thought where am I supposed to go and can’t just go on Facebook and ask if anyone knows an embalmer because the chances are if there was one in my near circle I would already know them.
I had to cast the net wider. So that’s what it’s for as well, is finding research partners and speakers and things like that.’
When asked if she thought the site might attract the wrong sort of people she said,
‘Yes, I’m sure it already has. Maybe if I was charging a minimal amount for membership then it might deter people if they were just kind of interested but didn’t think it was worth a tenner though.
One of my friends said, “You’ve got to be careful though because it’s going to attract the inevitable necrophiles,” which I thought was quite funny actually because the people in the industry themselves aren’t dead. There’s going to be a few odd people out there but there’s a few odd people everywhere so what can you do?’
Looking to the future, Valentine isn’t sure what it will bring.
‘I’d really have to sit down and think about whether I’d want to advertise it or do direct marketing with firms or even make it a pay site. There’s defiantly a few options.
I don’t want it to be just the site. There will be dead meet-up’s as well.
I want to have meet-ups which will be here in the museum so people can actually meet each other as well, which I think is an important aspect of it.’
Find out more and look out for future Meet-ups at Dead-Meet.com.
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