Antiques & The Arts

I’m 30 & I Embalm Dead Bodies For A Living | For A Living | Refinery29

Not all bodies, but a good amount of bodies, need tissue builder. It is lovely to help with building out faces such as sunken in temples, eyes, even lips. It’s like a botox for the deceased. My name is Miranda. I’m a mortician here at Milward Funeral Directors in Lexington, Kentucky. This is the entrance to Milward’s. Our casket showroom. Walnut, hickory, maple, I mean all kinds. This room is our visitation room. We call this our music room. What I’m sitting on is an antique. This is a casket bearer, it’s made for casketed bodies. This is our embalming room. This is an absolutely sacred place and no one is allowed in here without authorization. This is Miranda. She is just at a hospital over at Baptist, so that would be a pretty simple removal. I don’t mind going by myself. Right now I’m going to Baptist, to pick up a decedent who has just expired. When I was in mortuary school I learned about death care, but now that I’m working in a funeral home I have learned more about the process of grief. I believe that my job has given me strength that I didn’t know I was gonna have. And when I first realized what death was I was scared. I would lay in bed, think about death and it was like this black hole. It was anxiety. My feelings on death have affected my feelings on life. I really do live every day like, maybe I’ll die when I’m washing my hair and putting myself together. I’m like, “Well if I was in a car wreck, it could just be cut off any time.” Everything is so small in life and you really realize the big picture when you’re faced with death how simple and sweet life can be. I believe that women in the death industry are the change we need in funeral service. For a long time it was a men driven business and having women in this field, it’s lightening the load for these grieving families. Embalming makes me feel like an artist more than a scientist. Yes, I know my anatomy. Yes, I know what these chemicals are doing, but it has everything to do with art after that. An average embalming from start to finish for me takes anywhere from an hour a half to two hours. I look at the deceased and think, “Wow.” After everything they’ve done on earth it just must be amazing to be having the answers that they’ve finally been given. I might even talk to them sometimes. They haven’t talked back yet. Cosmetics for the deceased really aren’t like the ones we buy in stores. The ones we buy in stores are gonna react to the warmth of your skin. That’s why we use special cosmetics. For the ladies I like to use more of an opaque makeup. After I do cosmetics on a body and dress the body, I look at that body in the casket and think maybe this is how you look in the afterlife. I hope that’s what families take away from what I do as well. That they can have that image of their loved one enjoying whatever’s next. I think green burial is lovely and cremation is also an option. There’s so many options for cremation, which I think is a good thing. But I also, obviously think embalming is beneficial for the viewing process. Viewing is number one priority. This beautiful pink and white casket has been very popular with our little elderly ladies. Even if it’s just you coming in and spending a minute with your loved one, I think it’s so important to view the body. When I die, I would like my makeup look to be like my everyday look. My lipstick will be a bright red. Preferably Ruby Woo from Mac. The brighter the better. I feel like I’ve gained a positive outlook on death more than a fear. I’m not afraid of the dead body. I’m not afraid of touching the dead body. I’m not afraid of cleaning up. I’m not afraid of just being a comfort to someone that most people would be afraid to comfort. If someone dies and I’m there, I will absolutely and honestly take care of your loved one as though you were taking care of them. I will give them the love that you will give them. I will make sure that whatever happens to them happens with respect and dignity. I just hope that people can take away that death doesn’t have to be a negative experience.

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