Shawntel Newton, the Bachelor's Embalmer: I Love My Job!

Shawntel Newton Let's get one thing straight right up front: Shawntel Newton, the fourth place finalist on 'The Bachelor' this season, loves her job as a funeral director and embalmer, but not so much that she takes all the guys she dates back to the mortuary for a little show and tell on the embalming table.

That was purely the producers' idea, and you can hardly blame them. It isn't every day they get a contestant with such a unique and interesting profession. And that was probably what did her in. Shawntel was released at the end of the hometown visit episode, mostly because Bachelor Brad Womack didn't "deal with death very well."

Born to it

Death, however, is Shawntel's life, and she makes no apologies. "I love my job for many reasons, but mostly because it combines my three passions," she told AOL Jobs. "Science, psychology, and caring for the elderly, because so many of the family members are older."

Her interest in the profession of her father actually surprises her a little. Sure, as she and her two younger sisters were growing up in Chico, Calif., they used to play at the funeral home when there was no babysitter, and they'd often cry, "Daddy, show us who's in the box!" 'My Girl,' with Jamie Lee Curtis, was her favorite movie. But death was still a bit strange to them, and none of them had any intention of following in their father's footsteps.

It wasn't until she took the Meyers Briggs personality test, after her first year of college, that she considered taking the funeral business seriously. It showed that she could excel in that field above all others. "I thought, 'no way!'" she says. "There were other caretaking jobs that would have been good for me as well, like social worker and therapist, and I thought of pursuing those; but in the meantime, I started working with my dad at the Newton Bracewell Funeral Home, mostly because there weren't a lot of other jobs out there.

The science of it

She started out doing office duties, and not coming in contact with the dead. Then one day her father asked her if she would like to accompany him on a "removal," (the process of picking up a body after the person has died). "It was an elderly lady. I watched my dad being so gentle with her husband, and I admired the way he was talking to him. He was like a therapist," she remembers.

She became more involved in the business when her father asked her to assist an embalming. "That's where the science part kicked in," she says. "I've always loved biology and science. I would have liked to go into pathology, but knew it would take too many years of schooling."

She spent two-and-a-half years to get her degree at American River College, and found that her course of study was not unlike that of a nurse, with many anatomy and biology classes. But to be a funeral director, it was also necessary to study different religions. She is now licensed to be both an embalmer and a funeral director.

She's also had to learn to school her emotions; suicides and infant deaths are the most difficult, she says. And she's fascinated when she has the opportunity to assist with an autopsy. You'd be surprised at the number of things that could go wrong, even though the body is already dead, she relates. "If you're not careful, the body can swell or discolor. The wrong mix of chemicals can turn a person bright, Hulk green."

The problem with it

All this information, plus their stroll through the mausoleum and a demonstration of how the sharp tools are used, turned out to be a little too much for Bachelor Brad. He was not delighted to hear that her father loved his work as much as she did, and expected her to take over the family business in the not too distant future. Work with dead bodies made him squeamish. "He was a wimp," said the AOL reporter interviewing her, referring to Brad. "He was a wimp," Shawntel agreed.

But that didn't stop her from falling in love with him. He'd flown her to exotic islands, and in Las Vegas, he had taken her on a designer shopping spree that was the envy of all the other girls. "He treated me the way every woman deserves -- I'd never been treated that way before," she said. "I'm not going to lie. I was falling in love with him."

In the end, it was her profession that both spoiled her chances and got her through the disappointment of not being the ultimate one chosen. "I know how to handle grief," she said. "I do it every day. I'm familiar with all the steps, and I allowed myself to go through them." Four months later, she can honestly say, "I'm over it."

But when all is said and done, she still has a fulfilling profession, and the option of running the business one day, if she chooses. "I learned a lot from the show, and I may not always be in this exact position, but I love my job. It always comes down to the fact that it gives me the opportunity to do the the things that I'm interested in, that I'm passionate about. I get to help people. I serve. I'm a caregiver."

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It's certainly NOT a job for everyone but somebody HAS to do it. I'm grateful to those who do.

May 16 2013 at 3:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband and I own a monument company is Oklahoma. We were able to watch this season and were proud and honored to see Shawntel in the group. What a wonderful gem of a woman. We deal with a lot of funeral directors in Oklahoma and have seen true professionalism in the genuine compassion they have for the families they work with. We see only the best of people at the worst times in their lives. Since I have worked as a professional in this industry, I have been amazed at the wonderful things we here and the memories people share of their lost loved ones. There is nothing unsettling or weird about it. We would be honored to have you, your father and family come visit. Half of our setting crew is in love with you anyway. Thanks for representing our industry in such a professional and compassionate way!

February 26 2011 at 5:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whoever made the decision to tour the mortuary was wise...for her sake but I believe her father is better than 50% responsible for Brad letting her go... He was quite adamant re his want for her to take over the business...almost pleading that he not pick her for a rose... She is definitely the most attractive in the elegant definition... The rest are attractive in the cute way. Wish I were younger, I would drive up and hope for a chance encounter to meet that woman!

February 26 2011 at 4:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Shawntel, of course Brad is a fool on SO many levels ... letting you get away is just one more example of how shallow and cluless this guy is! But YOU are the fortunate one that things didn't go further with this guy! Seldom to 'Bachelor' matches survive. You deserve a REAL relationship with a quality guy ... someone SO much better than Brad! My best to you.

February 26 2011 at 2:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stick with it, Shawntel. You might be doing Charlie Sheen soon.

February 26 2011 at 2:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jessica H

I go to American River College and Shawntel was a guest speaker in my Death and Dying class last semester. She is one of the sweetest and most sincere people I have ever met. I have never watched The Bachelor before but I decided to watch this season because our teacher mentioned that Shawntel would be on the program. I have to admit that I rooted for Shawnel to the end but I know how passionate she is about what she does and I would have hated to see her marry somebody who was not fully supportive of what she does. Death is the one thing that every single person will experience and I am glad that there are people like Shawntel to show us that the funeral business can be compassionate and not just another business!

February 26 2011 at 2:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can understand Brad not feeling comfortable with her, b/c right after my dad died, a friend fixed me up with a funeral director who kept talking about the funeral business; adn it really grossed me out b/c I was still traumatized by my dad's sudden death. I didn't want to hear ANYTHING that remotely even came close to talk about the body , or the coffin, or the bier .

February 26 2011 at 1:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I knew Brad couldn't pick Shawntel when they were meeting with her parents and it was obvious that her father really couldn't operate his business without her. The hardship of having her away for the length of time it took to shoot "The Bachelor" was mentioned about Shawntel's former teacher who had lost a son, and needed her for counseling, comfort. You can tell that she is extremely sensitive and mature and her father has come to rely on her skills and talents. Her father is planning on handing the business down to her, and that means that her moving away would be extremely disappointing to him. Of course he tried to mask it on the show, as if to say, he would deal with it, but you just know that Shawntel has a lot of loyalty to her family and the opportunity to take over the business at such a young age will not be available anywhere else, and clearly she loves what she does. Brad did not make any mention of moving to Chico, California for someone he loved, so clearly, the woman will have to follow him. That's why I wonder if Emily will work out, since she has a daughter who is close to family in that area, it would be devastating to remove her from that environment. The gal that's going to be the dentist is not going to transfer to the U of Texas to finish dental school, plus starting your own dental practice takes years of work and dedication, and I think Brad wants to start a family soon, as he is in his mid thirties. The girl from Washington state (I can't remember thier names right now), is probably the best bet. Although she's kind of emotional, I think that her father and Brad hit it off very well, and that may mean a lot in the long run. Also Emily didn't introduce Brad to anyone other than her daughter, and I wonder why.....

February 26 2011 at 12:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not exactly the job I'd want, BUT, somebody has to do it. Just be careful, if your wife to be is one of them, don't make her mad, she might slip you a permenent mickey(just kidding1).

February 26 2011 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The guy is an IDIOT. He let that one get away!

February 26 2011 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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