Category: Personal Stories

To See What It Felt Like

Yesterday started with me getting punched in the face, and ended with me doing a removal after sitting in dog pee. And with that, jaundiced bodies tend to be very difficult cases. Short version: jaundice is produced by a chemical known as bilirubin, which stains the skin a bright yellow. Formaldehyde + bilirubin = biliverdin…


What The Bullet Will Do

An athletic body, a bored look on her face, and a gaping hole in the very center of her chest where she shot herself with a handgun. No embalming, service was on a Saturday and the cemetery guys complained about it. I asked if she was Jewish because the family wanted the least expensive casket…


Three Teeth

Some people never realize, until they reach adulthood, just how poor they were as kids. When I was a kid I thought I got plain noodles every night because I was lucky. I didn’t know that was all we could afford. We sure couldn’t afford dentistry, so it was a huge deal when I chipped…


Our Own Personal Limitations

When I first started on the job, I practiced the way far too many interns do – handling the body too softly, as though it were a newborn baby. It is natural to work with great care when tasked with such an important job, but sometimes, you have to be forceful. Embalming is not a…


Have You Ever Seen A Ghost?

I have not. I used to feel cheated. So many people tell me of their experiences with the ghostly underworld, and they’re just regular people with regular lives. I see and touch death every day and the ghosts apparently don’t want to stop by. But one of those regular people said it best: do I…


Making Amends

I find myself yet again in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not really “like them” – we all say – I am more of a binge drinker than a chronic alcoholic. A couple of times a year, I might go on a big binge, and everything will go horribly wrong for some reason. Then…


101 Things

In the manner of another blogger I follow, Caleb Wilde, here are 101 things I have done as a funeral director. 1. Dressed a body in one of my own suits when she had no clothes 2. Put one of my own cashmere scarves on a body to cover an incision 3. Worked a whole…


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…


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…


Myths Dispelled

There are several myths and urban legends passed around about the dead and what people have seen dead bodies do. These stories are all lies. Every single one of them. Even if your uncle was a mortician and he says his friend saw it happen all the time, your uncle is a liar. I will…