We were challenged to write such an article as the one below but knew there was such a need for this type of knowledge to be shared. Michelle Wiseman came well recommended to us. We did indeed find her to be very engaging, beautiful and so knowledgeable about her industry. Wiseman is the owner and principal mortician of Wiseman Funeral Home & Chapel located in Clinton Maryland and the recently established Wiseman Funeral in Camp Springs, Maryland. We knew this article would be very timely and comforting given the space the world finds itself in.
Power exuded from Wiseman as she walked towards me to participate in a pre-interview conversation. I was extremely impressed and fascinated with this woman as I intently listened to her as she boldly discussed her industry. I gleaned from the conversation that mentoring, educating and caring for her community was a passion of hers. I concluded the conversation with understanding that Michelle Wiseman is a woman that easily walks with power, purpose and influence. My subsequent interview with Wiseman proved my point.
I asked, what in the world is a beautiful young lady like you doing in this business? How did this happen?
Wiseman: I think the thought of women morticians have always given people pause for thought. This profession has historically been a male dominated industry. Women started to really dominated in the 21 century. We are here to stay.
Is this a family business?
Wiseman: Yes, I am the first person in my family to graduate from mortuary college and open a funeral home. I graduated from The University of the District of Columbia in 2007. I opened the business in 2008. My parents and sisters are all very instrumental in helping to run the day to day operations. My mother is head administrator, my father is the hearse & limousine driver. My sisters Monique is HR, Marline is the chapel clergy and Monica sometimes helps out with catering. I have been fortunate enough to employ other great staff members however it is largely family business.
We as a people tend to look at what you do from one aspect. But in my conversation with you, I learned there is more to it than just helping someone to rest in peace, so let us talk about the living. We talked about some things you have had to deal with such as human trafficking. We talked about how prevalent the theft of organs is. This part of the conversation led me to how you empower people in your community.
Wiseman: The death care industry is very unique within itself. Morticians are certainly empathetic & sympathetic to families who have experience loss. However, the general public is not aware of the large responsibility we have of containing potential public safety hazards. Human remains are dangerous. They are sometimes riddled with diseases, airborne and blood-borne pathogens. Our facilities are regulated federally by OHSA and must meet their standards. Every state has its own governing board as well. One of the largest responsibilities right now that is plaguing the industry would be, of course black market organ death. And so it’s become very necessary to be aware of the signs of someone maybe stealing an organ as well as trafficking. So yes, it is getting to be dangerous and we are faced with many, many tasks that was probably there before, but it was not as prominent. Right now organ and tissue, black market organ and tissue theft is a huge thing. And it’s a pretty big hazard only because you know, your grandmother may pass up a heart attack but your grandmother may also be HIV positive or she may have had cancer on, she may have had some other type of disease that would infect the population. We are highly responsible for keeping everyone safe as well.
So, people will buy someone’s organ and they do not know the health risks involved in buying that.
Wiseman: I meet with a lot of community associations, churches and social groups. I always encourage them to preplan, to get warm and fuzzy with their mortician. If someone passes in middle of the night, you don’t know who’s coming to get your loved one if you haven’t maintained a relationship with your local mortician. So upon leaving your home or leaving your loved one’s home on the way to the morgue, they have what is called chop houses. Before they get to where they’re going, they’ll stop off and take a heart or a liver or some blood or some tissue or some bone, anything they can do to salvage, to save a life. This is an extremely dangerous crime. For one, the body only has a few hours before it has to be transported safely into someone who needs it. The tissue and organ and blood, can house disease, infection, sickness and so it’s very dangerous. But it’s a very lucrative practice. It’s growing in the US, it’s been in other countries forever, but it’s a growing problem in the US right now.
And you said there is a lot of missing black women?
Wiseman: Yes. In Washington Metropolitian area it has become an epidemic. Black people are missing. Some have fallen victim to sex trafficking while others while others have met the ill fate of black-market organ & tissue harvesting. Human organs are big ticket item on the black market.
Do you motivate and mentor women, young girls in other areas than the one that you work in?
Wiseman: Absolutely. I love being a mentor; giving away the professional gift that was given to me. Watching a young apprentice grow into a confident mortician and fly on its own is extremely rewarding to me.
Wonderful. Now obviously our community needs much education about what we talked about previously, pre-planning because we absolutely do not do that. So how do you get the community to be more responsive to the pre-planning?
Wiseman: I think it is most effective when you come in from an educational point. You must educate the community and let them know that if you leave this earth and the business is undone, the government will seize the property. So it’s a matter of educating. You have to promote their curiosity to the point where they feel motivated to act because they’re empowered with knowledge. And then secondly you pretty much ask them to leave a love letter for their family. Pre-Planning, it is just basically a love letter letting your family know where to find their business once they are gone, how they like to be remembered, how they would like to be celebrated their likes and their dislikes.
Moving on to the next subject. I asked her, what do you think of the political climate?
Wiseman: Politically there is good & bad in every party. I don’t swing to far left or right either way. However, I have noticed no matter who’s in office the plight of the black race remains largely the same. I believe if we opened our own business, support our own, kept funds in our own community we might be better off.
My sentiments entirely. Any final thoughts?
Wiseman: I would like to encourage our youth in the way of a career paths that leads to financial independence & wealth. The business of Mortuary Science is one of the last solid foundations where generational wealth can be obtained. It is a service industry that is extremely rewarding in every way imaginable. There is no great skill set!
Awesome. Do you consider yourself a philanthropist?
Wiseman: Absolutely. In every way and any time, I can.
If someone wants to reach out to you where would they contact, you?
Wiseman: Via email, email@example.com. Or they can reach me on our office line at (301) 899-2005.
Wonderful. Thank you so much Michelle Wiseman for this interview. I appreciate you. That concludes my interview but thought I would add a little more about the woman of power and influence.
“She is the co-author of the Amazon bestselling book, “Permission to Win”. It is compiled of some of the most powerful advice, offered to those young women who will come after us. This copulation is from strong and successfully women who are winners in their fields. The word tool given to young women is a kind of a “heads-up”, in the business world and life in general. It encourages them to be tenacious. And it promotes health not only the body, but also in the mind, and the spirited. Wiseman holds a Degree of Applied Science, in the field of Mortuary Science, from the University of the District of Columbia and is an avid speaker. Mrs. Wiseman also sits on the Advisory Board of Academics for the University of The District of Columbia and has also been certified as a Pre-Need Funeral Counselor by the National Funeral Directors Association. She is a member the National Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association. She is an accomplished licensed Master Barber who uses this skill to donate her time grooming men, who are homeless or in nursing and senior care facilities.” A true philanthropist.