Although the Prays say they are more comfortable with death than others, they will never become numb to grief. It will always be difficult entering a home, not knowing what might be inside, says Joe, who still lies awake at night thinking about how he can care for people properly.
But the Pray name might not last through a third generation. Tyler earned degrees in mortuary science and English, so he’s eager to travel and experiment with words and music for a while, and isn’t sure he will carry on the family business himself.
Joe says the home will always be part of this small town, even if Pray is removed from the sign out front, because families count on someone to be there. And Tyler says he will see to it that the business is preserved.
For now, he wants to live — he’s looking to dabble in acting and other artistic ventures like poetry. In a way he’s had a lot of practice already; each funeral service is a performance of its own where he tweaks lighting, music, makeup and follows certain stage directions. But once a week, he escapes Charlotte for a few hours, placing himself on the other side of the cosmetics as independent filmmakers near Detroit transform him into his latest part of a political campaign adviser.
“I needed something creative to do in mortuary school because it was kind of a drag sometimes,” he says. ” I might even get stabbed at the end of the movie.”
At least then he can plan his own funeral.