By Glenda McCarthy
Coping with the death of a loved one is perhaps one of the most difficult things anyone will face in their life, and it takes a special type of person to help those who are grieving navigate all the decisions that need to be made.
No one understands that more than Megan Hoskins of Bishop’s Falls. The Business Administration (Human Resources Management) graduate never intended to work in her family’s business, Hoskins Funeral Home. In fact, she ran in the other direction.
“Growing up, my parents worked a lot and pretty much dedicated their whole lives to the business,” Megan says. “They didn’t get a lot of time off or a lot of vacation time, so I swore and declared that would never be me. I wanted to have my time off and be able to do what I wanted to do.”
After completing three years at CNA in 2012, Megan went on to Cape Brenton University (CBU) to obtain her Bachelor of Business Administration. She thought that if she came back to Newfoundland and got a government job, she’d be set. Instead, it was an eye-opening experience that made her realize she wanted to work with her family.
“I did my three years at CNA in Business Management, it was something I loved and what I always wanted to do,” Megan says. “I still wasn’t 100 per cent sure what I wanted, but back then everyone said, ‘Get a government job, you’ll have it made.’ That was pretty much what I tried to do – finish school and go work for Central Health or some form of the government. I ended up continuing and getting my degree.”
While at CBU, her parents would tell her how busy the business was keeping them.
“I kind of avoided it my whole life, but finally said I would give it a try. It came very natural to me and was what I was meant to do. I loved it and every aspect of it, which some people don’t understand. You have to be kind of a different person to be in the funeral industry,” Megan says.
“I love helping people in a different way; in a way that most people doesn’t realize they can be helped. They’re grieving and vulnerable, kind of lost and don’t know what to do or know where to turn. In this job you are there for people in ways that most people can’t be. That is really rewarding for me. It was just by luck that I woke up one day and said I would try this. I had been avoiding it forever.”
Megan officially started working with her parents in January 2015 and has been putting both her diploma and degree to good use ever since, including helping with the expansion of the family business to include a crematorium.
“Tradition is changing. Newfoundland is, of course, very traditional and deeply seated in their religious backgrounds. Traditional burials were dominating here, and very few people were getting cremated,” she says, adding that this has quickly changed. “We woke up one day and realized this is a thing people really wanted. People are curious about it and want to know what it entails. All of a sudden there became a need for it, and we started doing more cremations as opposed to mostly traditional burials.”
The only crematorium for central Newfoundland and Labrador was in Gander. This was inconvenient, not only for their business, but for the families they serve. Her father felt it was time to branch out to offer the service, which meant a significant investment for the company.
By meeting this new demand they would be able to cut down on other costs and eliminate travel time delays to Gander. After much discussion, the family knew it was the right step and made their decision.
“What it came down to was ‘if we have it, we can offer it’,” Meagan says. “We can eliminate a lot of cost for travel and delay. We can offer a service that clearly people want.”
That decision led them to receive the Business Growth Award in March 2017 during the 18th Annual Business Excellence Awards & Hall of Fame Induction, hosted by the Exploits Regional Chamber of Commerce in Grand Falls-Windsor.
“We were shocked to win. I accepted the award on behalf of the business. I’m being groomed to take over, and my parents are close to retiring so they want me out in the public eye because they are taking a back seat in the business,” Megan says.
“When you get nominated you never think you will win but there is such a sense of pride when you do. The crematorium was hard and it was very stressful because it is a new business venture. You have to iron out all of the bumps before you’re up and running and it took time.”
She recounted that once they had everything in place, they all felt a huge sense of accomplishment.
Megan’s parents are ready to hand over the reins of the business to her, and she expects that to happen within the next 12 months. She graduated from the Funeral Directing and Embalming program at the Canadian College of Funeral Service in June, and has entered a 12-month apprenticeship. Once she passes the written exam, she will be a licenced funeral professional and ready to take the helm.
“Once I have those two licences, I’ll be more equipped to take over the legacy, which is what I’ve been grooming myself for over the past two years.”