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….


Should You Carry A Gun?

A few days ago, I had the unnerving experience of a man trying to force his way into my locked vehicle as I was getting ready to leave. First he tried the door handle, then clawed at the window, then tried to tear off the mirror. His car was blocking me from simply driving off,…


Death – It’s Happening!

I love going on removals. I love being the family’s first contact with the funeral home, the chance to make a good first impression, and since I’m also an embalmer, I know the importance of not wrapping the face too tightly in plastic or carelessly storing the body in the cooler without regard to positioning….


How to Dress a Deceased Person

When I did my internship and actually touched a dead body for the first time, I understood why people said it was harder than dressing a squirming baby. My boss told me if I was ever having trouble getting the clothing on, I could cut it. I could split suit jackets up the back, cut…


My Christmas List

Now for something a little more lighthearted. I would appreciate any of the following. – Embalming instruments – New embalming machine – Backboard for calls – Airbrush cosmetic kit – Mortuary cosmetics – Antique embalming, surgical and autopsy textbooks – Disaster pouch – Non disposable, custom fit PPE – Case of Introfiant – Case of…


Two Overdoses

I’ve always said I wanted to die while working on a body. Ideally, it would be after I had celebrated my 80-something birthday with my friends, if I make any by then, eating nachos and laughing. Then the next day, while at work in some depressing, poorly ventilated garage, perhaps after having prepared a very…


Reader Question

Hello all, I’ve decided to answer another reader question. Yes, I am a freelance/on-call/trade embalmer, and I also do removals and run errands and meet with families and work services. I can accept or decline assignments at will. I can be on call for weeks at a time or not at all. I work for…


Erlkonig

The legend of the Erlkonig, or Earlking, is that a father and son are taking a frightening journey through a dark forest, in which the Earlking lives, visible only to the children whom he abducts and kills. Throughout the short opera, the Earlking lures and intoxicates the child, who tells his father repeatedly that the…