Funeral Cosmetologist Isaiah Owens turned death into a beauty matter following his signature believe “beauty softens grief”.
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Isaiah Owens has worked as a funeral cosmetologist for 46 years. His curiosity for funerals began at the age of five as he buried animals on the farm where he grew up, in South Carolina. The first time he saw a body was during the funeral of his aunt and after touching her head, he knew his calling was to become a funeral director.He attended the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service, in New York City, where he graduated in 1969. Mr. Owens built his funeral home following his signature believe ‘Where beauty softens grief’. “I make people look like they are all in heaven,” Mr. Owens said . He has become a known embalmer and restorative artist in the city. Owens Funeral Home is located at Lenox Avenue, in Harlem.
Whenever I come to Church I think of God. That’s the first thing and that’s probably the only thing that I think about.
[Singing in Church] Want to be ready when Jesus comes.
[Choir singing in Church] I can’t hardly see, sometimes I can’t hardly see.
I’m in this place where is just me and the body, the actual funeral itself. Funerals are always on my head.
[Steps, walking down the stairs]
Usually I require a good picture, a picture at a wedding or on a cruise or something like that, when the person is really happy and healthy. I like to know about the person’s life but usually a picture tells me the story or what I need to know as far as fixing that person up. But as far as their life a lot of these people that I’m working on, that I’m fixing are people I know very well.
When you are death your mouth might be open, you eyes are open and then I got to put you to sleep. But then when I put you to sleep, I put you to sleep with a smile on your face.
When I’m doing this I’m always in Church, I’m always kind of singing on the inside.
[Music fades in]
Beauty is important in death. It’s not just a beautiful face, is a beautiful body. It’s everything. It’s fixing the face, making sure the hands are just right, making sure that the clothes are just right and you just have to stand back and you have to work it until you got it perfect.
I’ll come along and I’ll move death out of the way, and when I move it out of the way death can’t come back again to do anything because in the person’s mind death has been replaced with a new life, a nice memory for people to have, to carry.
This is just an earthly thing because although I make people look like they are all in heaven but everybody don’t go to heaven. For your earthly exit here on earth, I’ll make you look like you are in heaven so everybody here looks like they are in heaven.
For these people, especially for the Christian people, they see the actual resurrection right here in my funeral home. So they see resurrect the body. So if it can be resurrected to this point here, than why can there be another resurrection over there?
[Music fades out]