There’s nothing worse than a poor turn out for a funeral.
That’s where Owen Vaughan steps in. He’s part of a growing number of people paid to flesh out the crowd at funerals!
Generally, it’s a close family member or friend who seeks out professional mourners, to avoid embarrassment or to simply make the deceased appear well-loved. It involves more than just standing around looking sad.
‘One time I needed to learn some archery, because I was supposed to arrive as a deceased archery teacher’s former protégé,’ Owen told Cracked. ‘There was a chance I’d actually have to fire off arrows.’
Strong social skills and empathy are also a must as Owen is expected to comfort complete strangers who are understandably emotional. Getting to know the person who died is pivotal to Owen’s role, as is developing a background story explaining how he knew the deceased.
One of the main challenges is conveying grief for someone he never met. Owen has a foolproof technique. ‘I’ll think about my own dad or my grandparents passing away,’ he explains.
Another challenge is to research customs and faiths so he doesn’t stand out.‘Some religions have startlingly loud funerals, while others expect silent weeping.’
Owen believes he provides an important service.
‘I can remind them of the good the deceased brought to the world,’ Owen said. ‘Making people feel better is literally my job.’
Read more in this week's issue of that's life!