The sacred role of the embalmer

Charles Cowling



“In an age when the materialistic threatens to undo the mystical, there is place for him who in that hour of deepest sorrow is able, by his art, his compassion, his wisdom and knowledge, indeed, by his very presence, to minister alike to the body bereft of soul and to those loved ones who need both worldly and spiritual consolation and guidance. There is no greater art. The embalmer of tomorrow may transcend the priestly function, and by and through his professional attainments glorify the divinity in man.” Letter in Embalmers’ Monthly, 1936

“Embalming has played a major role in shaping our contemporary civilization and culture, in protecting the physical and emotional health of the people of the United States, and in making possible funeral customs and practices which provide maximum beauty, dignity and consolation.” Clarence G Strub, article in Funeral Service 1970

‘Nelson Mandela’s eyes were closed and he had one of his favourite colourful shirts on. He looked completely at peace and had what seemed like a small, contented smile. He lay in state in a glass-topped coffin – his face looking slightly bloated.’ Daily Mirror 2013



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[…] few weeks ago I posted a blog about embalming — a short piece, just three quotes, no […]

8 years ago

Pure bathos Charles. Marvellous!