Let us talk Burial- NOT Green

January 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm 7 comments


The subject maybe taboo to some ( and believe it or not there is a reasoning for that too):

The Polynesian word tabu expressed the view that a person or thing coming into contact with the dead was set apart and shunned for a religious or quasi-religious reason.

So first we die and what is the “essence” ( or spirit or whatever drives us which makes us unique from everyone else on the planet ) leaves behind a shell, a cast off or leftover if you will .

First there are the physical changes to what was our body . I won’t go into detail but for those interested in the full picture follow this link

What happens next depends upon your own religious persuasion and locality on the planet. But for some of you (especially in this City of Lorain, Ohio USA )as this is where I first experienced an “embalmed body” and “visitation” I will start here.

Dr. Thomas Holmes -The father of modern embalming -1817-1900

Hopefully after reading the excerpts and the “rest of the process” through the links in green, some of my readers will understand WHY embalming of my son was something I dreaded -especially after all the needles, pumps catheters etc his poor body had already experienced whilst he was trying to survive…….

Dr. Richard Burr, an embalming surgeon, is performing the embalming process on a soldier recovered from the battlefield. During the early years of the American Civil War, a new profession began to emerge.

In all likelihood you will be picked up from whence you passed and taken to a Funeral Home. Your wishes ( which you have written down -hopefully-) will be carried out.

Commonly (around here at least) “embalming” is usually in the criteria.

What is embalming ?
Embalming Fluids

“Embalming is the removing of all blood and gases from the body and then replacing them with a disinfecting fluid.

The process is often more than the perceived as simple notion of bleeding out and then pumping in.

Truer words were never written and there are excellent “in detail” sites on the subject. The following “sound bites” are taken from

An embalming report is filled out that logs all jewelry and personal items on the body; details any discolorations, cuts, bruises, etc. on the body; and documents the procedures and chemicals used during embalming. This report can become very valuable if a deceased’s family bring a lawsuit against the funeral home.

All clothing, bandages, IV needles, catheters and such are removed. A strong disinfectant spray is used to clean the skin, eyes, mouth, and other orifices. If rigor mortis (the stiffening of muscles after death) has set in, it is relieved by moving the limbs and head about and massaging the muscles. If the decedent is a man, he is normally shaved at this point. Razor burn (yes, not even death can save you from this) is less likely before the arterial chemical firms the skin of the face).

Even women and children are shaved to remove the fine “peach fuzz” we all have on our faces. This is done to avoid the makeup from collecting on the hair and making the makeup more noticeable

And then the process begins. It is not as simple as “in with chemicals out with the blood“…. eyes, mouths, suturing and gluing are all part of making us look “good”.

“Some embalmers prefer to close the mouth using the needle injector gun. The gun drives a needle with a piece of wire attached into the jaw. Needles are driven into both the lower and upper jaw and then twisted together”

Arterial embalming begins by selecting an artery to inject the fluid into and a vein to drain away blood. The most popular site (however multiple injection and drainage sites may be used) is on the right side of the body near the collarbone. Here are located, right next to each other, the right common carotid artery and the right internal jugular vein. A small incision is made just deep enough to cut the skin and an aneurysm hook is used to separate the tissue above the vein and artery. The embalmer raises the artery above the skin surface and passes two pieces of suture string beneath it to create a ligature to tie off the vessel once the arterial tube is inserted. The same is done with the vein.

Each vessel will receive a tube to facilitate injection and drainage. The artery is incised (very carefully as to not cut it in half) and an arterial canula (tube) is inserted into the artery towards the heart. The ligature is now tightened so that a seal is made between the tube and the artery. The same is done with the jugular drain tube. A clear hose is attached to the drain tube and the hose from the embalming machine is connected to the arterial tube. Drainage can also be achieved by keeping the vein open using angle forceps. Many embalmers prefer this as it allows clots and blockages to more easily be flushed from the vascular system.

Still with me ? Well it does get more involved and we haven’t even begun with the cavity embalming Fair Warning and this is just part of it….


Cavity treatment starts with aspirating (suctioning) fluids out of the internal organs in the abdomen and thoracic cavity. We accomplish this with the use of a trocar. A trocar is a long metal tube with sharp blades at one end and a connector for a hose at the other. The hose is connected to a device that creates suction, either an electric aspirator or water powered aspirator (called a hydro-aspirator) and then connected to the trocar. The sharp blades on the trocar are used to pierce through the abdomen near the belly button. From this entry point, the embalmer directs the trocar towards and pierces all the internal organs, allow the trocar to remain in each organ long enough to suction off the fluids.

And I won’t even begin to tell you what happens if you have been autopsied ( but turkey and giblet bags come to mind)

I think that is enough to give you an idea but I would suggest you read the site as well as a very informative article

NICOLE PASULKA visits a funeral home in New Jersey to learn, hands-on, how to prepare someone for an eternal rest.



Entry filed under: death, health, history, weddings and funerals. Tags: , .

What happens after you die? The Visitation- or what to decorate is the question?

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January 2010

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