He Has To Look Perfect

Twenty-five years old and well-known in what some call the “urban world,” shot dead in a setup. He happened to be the friend of someone in the business and I was requested to prepare this case for viewing because “…he has to look perfect, you know…everyone knew him…” For any embalmer, there is no greater…


Have You Ever Seen A Ghost?

I have not. I used to feel cheated. So many people tell me of their experiences with the ghostly underworld, and they’re just regular people with regular lives. I see and touch death every day and the ghosts apparently don’t want to stop by. But one of those regular people said it best: do I…


Making Amends

I find myself yet again in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not really “like them” – we all say – I am more of a binge drinker than a chronic alcoholic. A couple of times a year, I might go on a big binge, and everything will go horribly wrong for some reason. Then…


Narcissistic Control Freak

When I had children, I took a very “what will be, will be” attitude. I didn’t feel the need to KNOW and PLAN everything. I didn’t learn the gender before birth. What’s the rush? I’ll find out in nine months! I didn’t get any kind of genetic testing, or even routine tests for common abnormalities….


101 Things

In the manner of another blogger I follow, Caleb Wilde, here are 101 things I have done as a funeral director. 1. Dressed a body in one of my own suits when she had no clothes 2. Put one of my own cashmere scarves on a body to cover an incision 3. Worked a whole…


(Don’t) Let The Bodies Hit The Floor

I’ve dropped people. Luckily never in front of a family, but over the last decade I’ve dropped a few bodies on bathroom floors, in elevators, in hospital garages and on the prep room floor. I’ve collapsed gurneys too soon when taking them out of the van, or when trying to move a body from the…


Piecing it all Together

If I might make a rule, please let me view the body before setting a service and viewing date with the family. Ideally, I like to have three days for a reconstruction case. I need to give the chemicals time to permeate all tissues of the body so I can have a firm, dry surface…


Anniversaries

I’m a little late in posting this not-really-about-funerals piece, but it’s still my former anniversary month. On July 1, 2001, I got married. We had a very nice, small outdoor ceremony with only eight of our immediate family present, and I think we may have spent an entire $500 on the dress, rings, honeymoon, license…


When There’s No Head

This Reader Question, about working on a headless body, comes from my mom: “Was the head missing? If it’s just detached, do you fix it up enough to put it with the body? Do people bury just the body? Do people just bury whatever pieces they have?” In my career, I have only worked on…


Tasteless Requests

Another gang shooting and another high school kid is dead. He had just moved here two months ago. I’m climbing the stairs of the large apartment complex and a teenage boy dressed in gang colors shoves ahead of me, carrying two candles. When I reach the apartment, he is there. He’s the kid’s younger brother….