More great tips on what to do (and not to do) when you’re an apprentice.
I will say that where I work, I’m one of the oldest ones in the prep room. My supervising embalmer is younger than I am. But I am the apprentice. Low man on the totem pole. And I know my place. I may have more life experience than my coworkers, but that doesn’t mean shit when it comes to learning how to embalm, or other ins and outs of the funeral industry.
Asked by pierced-inked-vitamingirl
I have only ever seen a few full couch caskets. I have heard that this a regional thing, but since I haven’t been to many funerals in other areas, I really couldn’t say from firsthand experience!
I will say this, though: thank goodness for half couch caskets! Sometimes people’s shoes just don’t fit on them, or the family wants to put random stuff in the casket or whatever and the foot end is a nice to place to put all of that junk so it isn’t seen! Also: full couch caskets are a PITA to open and close!
I feel for you. I do. I have been lovingly caring for your deceased relative while they have been at our establishment. But yes, this is a business. And yes, we do expect to be paid for our services and merchandise. Please do not act like we are the devil for asking you to pay your bill. And yes, that means BEFORE we have completed our services with you.
And in that same vein, please keep in mind that we have many other people’s lovely family members who we are also caring for. So no, it is not a good idea to just show up and expect to see your loved one without giving us any notice. And yes, we would like to spend the proper time dressing them and placing them in their casket. Do you really want us to rush this process while you are breathing down our necks waiting for us to get them ready? Is it too much trouble to make an appointment? I understand that you are grieving and life is all kinds of wonky for you right now, but we are humans too, and it’s no fun to be treated like shit by people you are bending over backwards for.
Photography by Max Merz
Published July, 2011
Remigijus and Nerijus Diechkus are brothers whose day jobs consist of cutting apart and embalming human flesh at a morgue in Vilnius, Lithuania. They are also musicians—Remigijus is the vocalist for the black-metal band Dissimulation, while Nerijus drums in a pop band called the Fly. German photographer Max Merz documented their gruesome livelihood, noting that they were extremely cordial family men who very much enjoy their alcohol. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, especially considering their line of work.
Read the rest at Vice Magazine: MORGUE MAESTROS - Photography by Max Merz - Vice Magazine
Following Buddhist traditions, the bodies of the deceased in Tibet are not interred but offered to vultures to hasten their return to the earth. Monks conduct the ceremony at hillside burial sites. A body without a soul has no purpose in Tibetan culture and any remaining flesh is considered a bad omen. After presenting the body for consumption, the leftover bones are broken down so the birds can finish the ritual.
The Zoroastrians of ancient Persia had a similar tradition, which continues in parts of India to this day. Corpses are placed on “towers of silence” to expose the unclean bodies to the sun and birds of prey. Months later any remains are disposed of in a pit under the tower.
My grandmother’s hands.
And another note on her visitation: listening to my mother explain how she thought she would be afraid to see her own mother dead and in the casket, only to see her and feel at peace because her mother looked so peaceful and beautiful in the casket, well, it made me tear up. It was so emotional to me for both the obvious reasons and because my mother could finally understand the purpose of my chosen career.
And the funeral geek in me couldn’t help but think: they could have done her nails. Sheesh.
Post-mortem photo of my grandmother.
I hesitated about whether or not I should post this photo on my public tumblr because the possibility of it getting reblogged is a little weird to me, but…here it is. And here is why: This is what I do. This is my profession. And if I love other people’s post-mortem photos and appreciate that I get a glimpse into strangers’ photos, then how can I not share my own? It has also made me appreciate, even more, the act of viewing the body.
I didn’t get to attend my grandmother’s visitation or funeral and it was extremely difficult for me to not be there. When I received these photos from one of my aunts, I felt like I could finally grieve and accept that this wonderful, amazing woman was gone. And there I was, experiencing what I had read over and over again in my textbooks: viewing the deceased helps to accept the reality of the death and facilitates the grieving process. OK. I get it. Sorry for ever rolling my eyes at that one.
So don’t try to use one of their checks to pay for their burial.
And don’t get pissy when I tell you that we can’t accept it.
Ooooohhhhhh….those evil funeral directors, expecting to get paid from a legitimate source for their services!