A visit to the funeral parlour is an emotional and sometimes disturbing experience. The pungent smell of antiseptic and the sombre faces of the staff make you want to leave as fast as you can. But as you turn away from the cold, pale faces, spare a thought for the many people whose work brings them into daily contact with the dead. For these professionals, every day is Halloween. Philip Swan-Lip Beh has worked as a forensic pathologist since 1982. The 49-year-old spends his days in morgues and at the scenes of accidents and crimes. Carrying out autopsies is one of Dr Beh's duties. To determine the cause of death, he needs to examine wounds on the body, and take blood and tissue samples to check whether the victim was poisoned. Seeing horrifying images is a daily part of his job. 'Sometimes, the bodies are in a pretty bad shape. They may be the bloated bodies of drowned people or rotten corpses of victims who have been dead for a long time,' he said. Dr Beh is also responsible for investigating gruesome crime scenes. Of the many grisly scenes he has witnessed, he said the riot in the Shek Kong Vietnamese refugee camp was the most horrific. 'In the 1992 riot, someone set the camps on fire. I had to handle two dozen charred bodies in a day. The scene was really upsetting,' recalled Dr Beh. Although Dr Beh's job would be a nightmare for most people, he said he has never been bothered by the frightening images he sees every day. 'I sleep well every night. I get a lot of satisfaction when my findings help the police solve crimes,' said Dr Beh. 'Bereaved relatives also thank me for telling them how their loved ones died. If my job frightened me, I would have quit a long time ago.' Another professional who is equally unfazed by the dead is Chan May-ling. Miss Chan works as a makeup artist for the dead at the Universal Funeral Parlour in Hung Hom. Having been in the industry for 31 years, Miss Chan is an expert at giving the dead a final makeover before they set out on their journey to the netherworld. Her work can get extremely busy, with 10 to 20 corpses needing attention in a day. 'I need to clean the bodies and put cotton into all the cavities. Otherwise, fluids will flow out. 'Sometimes, the bodies are of accident victims whose faces have been badly damaged. I need to sew up the gashes and use chemical glues to [put the face back together],' said Miss Chan. While daily contact with the dead makes her aware of the transience and fragility of life, she does not consider her work 'frightening'. 'I've got used to it. Most of my clients are grateful for my work, thanking me for making their departed relatives glow for the very last time,' Mss Chan said. 'I feel really happy that my work helps to make a difference.' Too frightening for some Not everyone can be as calm as Dr Beh and Miss Chan when faced with the dead. Fiona Lo, 45, gave up nurse training at Queen Mary Hospital because she couldn't face her patients. 'When people are dying, they may roll their eyes and writhe in agony. I was so frightened I couldn't look at them,' said Miss Lo. 'One of my duties was to wrap up dead bodies. The experience was so horrifying that I had nightmares. Before it was my turn to do the evening shift, I quit.' Miss Lo now works at a local clinic dispensing drugs. 'Although I earn much less, I no longer have nightmares,' she said.