I’ve been cheating on my wife for 10 years and it’s made me a better husband
All this makes me very grateful to be entrusted with a person’s loved one and to give them a positive last memory so they can pay their final respects.
If anyone reading this has suddenly thought this could be for them, I’d say go for it. It’s extremely rewarding and you get to be creative.
It keeps me grounded and mindful of impermanence.
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Every time I get asked what I do for work, it’s either met with stunned silence or a barrage of questions.
It’s not often you hear someone telling you ‘I’m an embalmer’.
Embalming is the skillset and science of preserving human remains by staving off decomposition, which is done to ensure the deceased is suitable for viewing.
This is my reality.
The most asked follow-up question is ‘How did you get into that?!’ I usually explain that I’ve always been interested in true crime and got my university degree in forensic science, in mid-2012.
I then shadowed coroners’ officers and attended autopsies to gain a little more experience. This sort of work experience was finite in me choosing which path I wanted to take, career wise.
Later in 2012, I worked in a hospital as a mortuary assistant and while I was signing over a deceased person out to a funeral director, their undertaker randomly said, ‘would you be interested in embalming?’
At that moment, I didn’t know what the job entailed at all, so I snuck off to Google it.
I came to find that embalming was preserving human remains. I was excited about the opportunity and it fed my morbid curiosity; I knew I absolutely had to explore this.
The person I’d be replacing had carpal tunnel syndrome and would be giving up the role. I said that – absolutely – I’d be interested.
On the embalming course, I sat five theory exams that were two and a half hours each. I then had to complete 50 embalms before my practical exam.
I remember observing for the first week and being so eager to get involved and replicate what the head embalmer was doing. After my first post-mortem embalm – that I did without any assistance – I was elated and was so chuffed to bits at what I had achieved.
The before and after look of the deceased was great and it was down to my skill – that made me feel proud. The skill that I’d learnt was giving families peace of mind. It’s an extremely rewarding position to be in.
I eventually passed my course and became qualified by 2016.
I’ll wash and dry their hair, apply make-up, suture the mouth closed and place eye caps on
Before this, I had no idea that you could apply for a trainee position in embalming, with no experience – all you need is a passion for the job. In fact, people I have worked with have come from all sorts of different backgrounds, including retail.
A lot of people don’t really know the full extent of what I actually do.
A typical embalm would consist of raising the carotid artery and introducing a mix of warm water and formaldehyde into the arterial system, to bring plumpness and colour to the skin. This gives a healthier look to the skin’s density and pigmentation, as opposed to dull, grey and gaunt.
I also wash the deceased and maybe
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