Dealing with the Dead

Charles Cowling

Dealing with the Dead from The Boxing Network on Vimeo.

 

Behind the scenes at the State University of New York’s Mortuary School. Interesting insights into the rationale for US funerary practices and what motivates the students. NOTE: Includes graphic scenes of embalming. 

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David Holmes
7 years ago

I commend you to the book – ‘Never stuff your dog’ by witty and talented ‘Mash’ actor, Alan Alda. The thrust of the title is that as a child – the Alda family dog – a beloved pet died. Breaking the awful news, Alan’s Dad implored him not to get upset – Rover was gone, but would soon return, preserved for ever in his favourite sitting position. Not being quite old enough to understand, Alda waited patiently for weeks – knowing grief was unnecessary because the dog wasn’t ‘dead’ – it was just away. Of course once the dog returned… Read more »

Ru Callender
7 years ago

My mistake Mark. Apologies.

Ru Callender
7 years ago

Our dead need to look as they are; dead. Emotive words like decomposing give a much exaggerated mental image of what actually happens. Our experience is that every family is reluctant at first to come and see their dead relative, “we want to remember her as she was” but on drawing on their reserves of enormous courage which so often accompanies the experience of someone dying, they come once, then again and again and again. The subtle changes, skin discolouration, features becoming more drawn are things we recognise on a deep instinctive level, and need to see to align the… Read more »

Mark Elliott & Ann.L
7 years ago
Reply to  Ru Callender

I do not have a Wife.

Fran Hall
7 years ago

The word ’embalming’ sounds almost lovely doesn’t it? From years of making funeral arrangements with families I would put money on the fact that the common understanding of embalming is a kind of anointing with magical Egyptian oils that miraculously keep the dead person looking just like they’re sleeping instead of being, well – dead! I also have years of experience of looking after people who have died, collecting them, washing and dressing and placing them in coffins, then supporting families who come to ‘view’. The whole suggestion that people only look ‘at peace’ if they have been embalmed and… Read more »

Ru Callender
7 years ago

Embalming is a well meaning but misplaced attempt to spare people a truth that cannot be spared. It causes a psychological dissonance that we believe is harmful. I speak as someone who has been showing bodies to the people who loved them for thirteen years.

Charles
7 years ago

Kitty, I am afraid that this is how the video implants/embeds itself. Over that I have no power. I’m really sorry!!

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 years ago
Reply to  Charles

Please don’t.

Kitty
Kitty
7 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Charles – thank you for explaining.

Charles
7 years ago

Sorry, Jed, there isn’t.

Kitty
Kitty
7 years ago
Reply to  Charles

Please?

Mark Elliott & Ann.L
7 years ago

I do not think seeing a decomposed person or someone who is startig to decompose is something that any family would want to be put through. In all my years of funeral service families have been pleased to see their loved ones looking at peace families don’t wish to see such changes etc. Embalming when done well is of great benefit to the bereaved and friends etc who come to pay their respects in the chapel of rest.

ian
ian
7 years ago

Unfortunately embalming is not very pleasant. It is however sometimes essential. No amount of ‘cold storage’ can help prevent a body breaking down if the funeral isn’t going to be for quite a few days. Would I want it to happen to anyone I know, absolutely not. I would prefer a closed sealed coffin. But if a family want view and the deceased is beginning to decompose by the time you can get them from the hospital, sometimes you just have to do it…

Jonathan
Jonathan
7 years ago
Reply to  ian

I’d partially agree, Ian, if you said embalming may very occasionally be the better of two evils after ‘quite a few weeks’; I’ve certainly been around unembalmed bodies, two or three weeks dead, with no problem. It’s one of those myths of Funeralworld, that a body must be ‘presentable’; but I’ve just come from a client who told me her apparently sleeping relative upset her because she couldn’t shake the thought that he was about to wake up again. I’m still in favour of a visit to the dead being a chance to understand, at first hand, the decomposition of… Read more »

Jed
Jed
7 years ago

Blimey! So that’s what ‘hygienic treatment’ is? So that’s what has to be done to make a corpse acceptable to its beloved? I’ve read about it before – but there’s something about the visual. That’s more than a bit graphic! I found it intriguing and horrifying at the same time – that’s ticked right off my list of things to do after I die….The really sad thing is that I have heard so many people say, ‘We would have considered organ donation, but we didn’t want them messed about….’ If only they knew. ps Is there any way of changing… Read more »