We found a very interesting Reddit thread from a mortician who answered questions and gives his view on working with the dead.
What is the strangest request that the deceased had wanted done for their service?
We had a dead clown one time. This person was buried in full clown costume with makeup and all. The whole family was clowns, all the friends were clowns. And at the families request, the funeral directors were clowns too. They supplied costume and did our makeup. Family and friends had 1 tear drop painted on near the eye. Definitely my strangest.
What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve done to a cadaver that you are willing to admit?
I had this guy to prep one time. He had an intubater? tube down his throat and was taped on his face. One piece of tape was across his mustache. When I took the tape off, most of his mustache came with it. So I shaved it. The wife was pissed. Super pissed. Threatened to sue and everything else. She said we had better fix it. So what am I to do? I went to a costume shop and bought a pack of fake mustaches. We had a picture of him, but none of these mustaches was working. I picked the best possible match and put it on him. We then call her to come look. We were nervous as shit because believe me when I tell you that it looked completely ridiculous. It was bad. So she comes in and absolutely loves it! I couldn’t believe it. She then turned super sweet and hugged me. At the graveside service I kept thinking that one day this man could be disinterred for whatever reason and they’re gonna find a skeleton with a mustache.
Have you ever had to deal with children? What was it like?
Yes, I have embalmed many children from babies to toddlers and up. It never really bothered me. Probably because I didn’t have kids at the time. I’ve seen people get in this business with kids and absolutely cannot embalm or even attempt a child. I now have a 3 year old, but it hasn’t changed my ability to effectively prep a child.
When you cremate someone, how often do the ashes from previous customers make it into the current customer’s mix?
There is some co-mingling involved, although very minimal. It is unavoidable, you can’t get every single grain out. As long as you sweep it properly after each person, it is very minimal.
Have/Will there ever be a job you refuse to do?
I’ve seen pictures and have heard about people being embalmed and placed on a motorcycle, stood up in the corner, in a recliner.. This all seems ridiculous and disrespectful to me. Especially if the deceased did not request it. I say I would refuse to do this to someone but who knows. I mean if the family really wants it.
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Are women creeped out by your career choice?
Some are. I like to date other morticians or nurses. They seem to understand and are over the whole novelty of it all.
Would you be embalmed yourself? Or would you want to be cremated?
I’m ok with being embalmed and buried. I’m also ok with being cremated. I will let my family choose the method which best suits them at the time.
Other than the Clown Funeral, any other “funny” funerals that stand out in your memory?
One time we had a person who did some acting and modeling in California. A hand model. The family came in early for the visitation to set up pictures and things. I show them in, help them get started then leave them so they can do their thing. I come back in about 10 min to check on them and just about every picture they put up was this persons hands from the various ads they did. There were some family photos, but most were a pair of hands. It was funny to me because most people will put up whole pictures.
Who would you recommend this job to? Like what kind of person would make a good mortician?
It’s funny. I was a waiter for many years in my younger days. I always say, If you can be a successful waiter, you can be a successful funeral director. They are similar in ways. They both wait on families, both provide what should be excellent customer service. Just that one puts a pizza in the oven, the other puts a body in the oven. But really anyone who is good with people and customer service should do well.
What the most ‘interesting’ death that occurred to a person you mortified?
Lot’s of interesting deaths. I embalmed a man that was found dead, leaning over a balcony in the front of his house. It was October and with all his decorations, neighbors thought he also was a decoration. He was there for days.
What was the grossest job you’ve had to do so far?
We had this house call one time. The lady was dead a while. On the couch all bloated as hell. When we started moving her, the abdomen busted. I had goo and maggots all over my leg.