Rita Brown admits she was scared of death before she took on the job as an embalmer at Tararua Funerals.
She was approached by the then owner of the funeral directors, Grant, and asked if she would like to take on the role.
She initially said no.
"Then I thought about it for a couple of months, and I thought in one way it would be interesting to see what happens to you after you've passed.
"From that day forward when I saw my first embalming I thought that was me, I can do that. I've never looked back."
Embalming is a process in which the body is prepared for the funeral service.
But it was not as simple as it sounded, Brown said.
It involved several different calculations depending on how long the fluids needed to last.
Brown also does the make-up and hair and will dress the body, although the families sometimes choose to dress their loved one.
She has been working as an embalmer for about 19 years and is now the only qualified woman embalmer for the whole of Tararua district plus Manawatū.
A few years ago she decided to study for the New Zealand Diploma in Embalming.
"When the previous owner left and sold the business to Tracey [Friend], I thought I better get my butt in gear and get it just to secure myself in the job."
She went to Weltec in Wellington for the course, which involved blocks of six weeks.
There were six women in the one-year course, but two have since left the profession.
Brown said while she didn't think too much about being the only woman embalmer for the region, it was an "honour and a privilege".
"I'm proud of it. It's not for everybody."
Brown said people have often told her that it takes a special person to do her job and it's one that does require care and compassion, which suits her to a tee.
"I love it. It's my passion."
But the end result, seeing the family come in and see their loved one, getting that last memory picture, is what it's about for her.
"We try and encourage as many as we can to come and see their family members because it's really important."
The job is not without its tough moments.
Brown had to do the embalming for a good friend.
"It was really amazing because she'd said to me: 'When I die, you're not allowed to cry, when you're looking after me'.
"It was just like, oh my god, how am I going to not do that, and then she goes 'You're not, you're not crying while you're looking after me', and I went 'Okay'.
"And you know, I never did. I never cried the whole time I looked after her but as soon as I was finished, I was out of the mortuary and I was allowed to."
When she needs to talk things through, she is able to turn to Tracey, or her former tutor.
She also helps out at other funeral services around the region.
It shows just how supportive the people are in the industry.
"You've got some really awesome people out there."