"Sometimes you experience families that lose a child, which is probably one of the most difficult things you will encounter," he said. "Taking care of a small child is hard, especially when you have your own kids."
He spoke with pride about his two daughters, while also speaking with respect about the parents whose loss he hopes never to experience.p The compassion in his voice when speaking about the services he offers makes it evident that tearing apart a restaurant and turning it into a place where families can go to mourn and say goodbye to their loved ones has been a labor of love.
While most morticians go into the funeral business because their families are in it, Probst decided to become a funeral director after serving on a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission in Monterrey, Mexico.
Probst was working with a family that was thinking of joining the church when they suddenly lost their son in an accident. "That was probably the first time in my life I was ever around someone that one moment was with us and the next moment was not," he said.
Whether it was for spiritual support or to simply be physically present with the family during their time of need, he said the experience impacted him on a different level and spurred his decision to look into mortuary school upon his return to the United States.
He received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz. while also studying for his associate's degree from the mortuary program at Mesa Community College. After working at several different funeral homes in Mesa, Ariz. for about seven years, Probst and his wife decided to move back to Midway so they and their daughters could be near family.
"Being from here, I always wanted to come back and be in a community where I know people and serve friends and families and be involved more in the community," Probst said.
While he said he loves what he does, it does not come without difficulties. Mortuary school was great preparation for taking the national board exam, but nothing could prepare him for the emotional hardship of the first funeral Probst ever presided over.
"The first call you ever go on to pick somebody up and their family is there, you just think, 'What do I say? What do I do? I hope I don't mess up,'" he said. "The first call, and even the next few after that -- it's just a little bit scary until you get comfortable with it."
He has since learned that as a funeral director, he has to be available whenever the families want to see their loved ones and make sure everything is taken care of while also taking a step back, figuring out what role he will be playing in the services and letting them grieve in their own ways.
Probst added that he also participated in the design of the funeral home, making it warm, welcoming and comfortable. The lobby houses couches as well as a large television for videos or photo slideshows families may have of their loved ones, sconces and other traditional décor line the walls and hallways of the home and photos of his family and a map of Africa hang in the meeting room.
The funeral home offers cremation, cremation with a service with the body present, or a memorial service without the body present. The cremation is performed at a crematory in Salt Lake City. Probst said they also offer traditional services with the body present and a trip to the grave site after the service as well as rosaries and wakes.
"Green burial" is also offered, which means no embalming or use of any chemicals of any kind and burial at a "green cemetery" in Salt Lake City. He added that the home can also provide shipping for anyone who is from out of the country or somewhere else in the United States. "We handle those arrangements to get them back to where they are from or where they want to be buried," he said.
While the home has only been open for a month, Probst said he and his wife, who is a therapist and has a Master's degree in social work, are working on offering bereavement groups or grief counseling. His wife is also spearheading efforts to create a nonprofit that will provide funds for families that have lost a child.
Until then, Probst said he wants to continue to offer families a place of solace where they can grieve and say goodbye to their loved ones. "Each family obviously carries a different burden, but if you do your job right and take care of them, it's not really a job but more of a service," he said.
Probst Family Funerals