Everything’s Included

I remember one staff meeting a few years ago where we were discussing a funeral home on the other side of the country which was being investigated for improper treatment of human remains. Bodies were stacked in the garage, without refrigeration, and burials which were supposed to be conducted within 24 hours were actually put…


God: Not Welcome at My Arrangements

My mother used to tell me that I would know I had reached professional success when I no longer had to look for work; I’d sit back and wait while other people called me. I reached that point years ago. Today I know I’m successful because my services are so in demand that I can…


Another Full Post

  I used to love working on autopsies…before I started to see too damn many of them.   My second case ever was a complete thoracic/abdominal/cranial autopsy, or “full post” as we in the business say. I had no idea what to expect, but it was my second week on the job and my very…


I Have Seen What Strength Is

John drowned at the age of 14, but was rescued in time to be taken to the hospital and kept alive on life support. I learned he did not want to be kept alive by artificial means, and I learned this because he told me so.   I talk to the dead all the time….


Kosher Embalming

Embalming is almost never required by law, not even for viewing purposes. Many funeral homes, churches and other places where viewing often takes place may have their own policies regarding viewing of unembalmed bodies, but these are not laws. For example, most funeral homes restrict public viewing of an unembalmed body and limit it to…


Sometimes They Fight

“All of you. Outside, now. This will not happen here. You won’t be the first family I’ve thrown out in the middle of a service for not knowing how to act.” I physically removed six fighting people from the funeral home, as in, I stood chest-to-chest with them and pushed them out the front door…


When To Break The Rules

I have a canned speech I give over the phone to people when they explain that what I’m doing isn’t right – usually regarding cremation arrangements. By law, if a person’s children are making the final arrangements, they need to be in agreement on choosing cremation, since of course it is irreversible. So, all surviving…


Cancel The Burial

Calling off a scheduled burial is no easy task. Everything scheduled in addition to the burial – church, minister, flowers – has to be called off as well, and the vital records office has to reissue a new death certificate with the corrected burial date. So if you want to cancel a burial, you need…


For Some, It Never Ends

“We just got a death call and you’ll never guess who it is,” my manager told me. “Remember that lady who came in a few weeks ago when her son got murdered?” “Yeah, I remember her! Did she get murdered too?” “No. Her other son shot himself.” Oh. I believe there are limits to what…


Inconvenience

The most disturbing thing to me about attitudes toward death today is the idea that it must be convenient. This is the reason for funeral webcasting, delayed interment and “we’ll just have the memorial in the Spring when everyone is here.” Why isn’t everyone here now? Someone died. Stop what you are doing right now….