Whenever I get the opportunity to meet new people while I am out and about there is always a point in the conversation when “the” question will come up… “So, what do you do for a living?” As I have evolved thorough my career I have developed good answers that might not ruin dinner for our guest! I might say “Oh, I work with my family in Marietta” or “I am in the service industry”, for some this might suffice as a sufficient answer and move the conversation forward but for most people, they want to dig deeper. This is when I can fancy up my title by saying “I am a post-mortem vascular surgeon” but usually I will just say “I am a funeral director”. Now here comes the 21 questions and usually leading the group of questions is “Oh My Gosh, Have you ever seen a dead person?” and the next will be “Have you ever met an embalmer?”
Now, you have to understand how proud I am of what I do and I could talk to you about what I do for hours without end but like I said earlier, it is not the best topic around the dinner table. My wife is so used to hearing these questions come up when we are out and she understands exactly what I am talking about here. People might have a question or two about being a funeral director but the conversation will always goes straight towards the “Embalming Room”. I do however enjoy hearing people asking about embalmers as if they are some mythical creature that only inhabit the earth in some deep dwelling of a mortuary that cannot be seen during the hours of light, but I also love explaining to people what an embalmer actually is. Embalming is very personal to me and I am proud to be licensed as an Embalmer in the State of Georgia.
“Embalming is the art and science of preserving human remains by treating them (in its modern form with chemicals) to forestall decomposition. The intention is to keep them suitable for public display at a funeral, for religious reasons, or for medical and scientific purposes such as their use as anatomical specimens.”
As defined you see the first word defining Embalming is the word “art” and I see an “Embalmer” just as that, an Artist. To take someone you have never met or seen and make them recognizable to all who know them takes an artist. The difference is an artist works on their “Art Piece” over time and then gets to display their art for people to see for years to come, an “Embalming Artist” has a set time to complete their work and after putting in all their talents and everything that they have to offer, that person is usually viewed for a very short time and then placed where no one on this side will ever see them again.
Embalmers are required by law to go through a speciality college and retain the laws and standards as well as anatomy, thanatology, chemistry and science specifics from the Associate of Mortuary Science program and graduate with a degree then pass a state test and a National Board exam. These tests have been known to rival the difficulty of a doctors board exam and some say they would be comparable to the Bar Exam.
As an Embalmer I have a very special task, to create an experience that will bring closure and peace while helping a loved one and friends reconcile their grief and enter into a state of healing. I won’t go into the details of embalming but I want all who are reading this to understand what exactly embalming is and how it works without requiring you to take a test at the end!
I tell people to think of an embalming machine as an external heart pump. The machine places into the body a set of chemicals the same way that your own heart pumps blood throughout the body and these chemicals will actually slow down the breakdown of cells in your body and allow that person to maintain a suitable appearance for mourners who wish to view. In it’s simplest form, this is the embalming process. Embalming and reconstruction is as old as time can recall and is a traditional way that we view our loved ones. Though embalming is not a “state law” and is not required in many cases, it does allow the public to come in and pay their last respects while viewing the person.
As you can now see there are no ghosts, goblins, mythical creatures or creepy seances that are apart of or have to be used during embalming. We are very normal people that utilize very special talents in a not so talked about profession. It is an honor for me that a family would allow their most special possessions to be placed into our care and know that we will handle this process in the most dignified and professional manner, more than just a job… this is a privilege!
Time to time people will often have more questions regarding embalming and I am here to answer those questions, so if you are ready for me to go on and on about what I do here then all you have to do is just ask!