Women’s Work

One of the reasons I was so drawn to mortuary work is that it’s one of the oldest professions in the world that has been traditionally overseen by women. Since early humans, and even among some animals, the females have taken care of the unborn and the newly born, the dying and the dead. This…


Affording a Funeral for an Infant

For the purposes of this post, “baby” or “infant” shall refer to a child aged one year or under, and a fetus at any stage of development. I am seeing a lot of GoFundMe pages set up for families seeking financial help after they lose a baby. Nothing is wrong with this, as there may…


Losing a Daughter, Gaining a Son…Not in the Way You Think

I am a funeral director and embalmer with eleven years in the business, but many don’t know I am also the mother of a transgendered child. I have always been supportive of the LGBT community and I knew the right thing to do was accept my child’s new gender identity. She [I still use the…


On Makeup

This could also be considered the last in my Facial Laceration Repair posts…for this case, anyway. I came back one more day before the funeral and re-sutured, re-waxed and re-cosmetized everything again, and she ended up looking…good. Good as in, like someone who had not been in a car accident. On the day of the…


Autopsy Repair Timeline

So in between my work on the double homicide, I had another family come in who lost their sister in a car wreck. She hadn’t even been released from the medical examiner, and they wanted to see her RIGHT NOW. It was 2pm. Medical examiner stops releasing at 3. The drive is an hour. A…


Facial Repair, Three More Days

Christmas Eve, right after church while still wearing my silk dress, I drove to the funeral home and removed the cosmetics, wax and sutures from the facial wound. I scraped out all of the absorbent powder and stuffed the wound with phenol-soaked cotton, then left it overnight. I saw blood on the pillowcase so I…


Repairing a Facial Laceration, Stage 1

Today’s case was harder than I imagined and will need more work. Luckily the funeral isn’t for another week so I will have plenty of time. I will document, as much as I can without breaching ethics, the steps I took. I was presented with a middle-aged slightly obese autopsied female, partially frozen. On the…


In An Instant

While you were complaining about bills; yelling at your kids; wondering where the good tablecloth was; playing video games; cleaning the fish tank; calling your mother or learning a second language, I was picking up the pieces of a multiple-family car wreck. One man’s life is forever ruined; his wife and daughter are dead and,…


Understanding Permanence

I’m reading Cries Unheard: The Case of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny, written in 1998 about a ten-year-old British girl who, in 1968, murdered two small boys by strangulation. This book was based on several interviews with Mary Bell, now living under an assumed name. Mary spoke of not really understanding the permanence of death;…


A Surgeon’s Hands

Many bodybuilders will claim that, without bodybuilding, they would be dead. This is because many of them were introduced to the activity as a way to cope with mental demons or serious emotional problems, and many credit bodybuilding or other athletics with helping them find relief from drug addiction or suicidal thoughts. I would hope…