IAmA female embalmer, a bikini designer/model, and an award winning cosplayer! Ask me anything! I have worked on gunshots, decapitations, car accidents, etc. My specialty is facial reconstruction!
After I posted in TIL about the difficulties of embalming gunshot cases and drug overdose deaths, they encouraged me to post here about the crazy experiences I've had.
Here's an album showing the mortician side, the cosplayer, and the bikinis I've made. (YES, I hand make All of my costumes)
Time for FUN stuff!
My most difficult case to restore.
I've worked on many gunshot wounds and they're insanely difficult if they entered the skull, bid my hardest case was a decapitation. We used dowels in the neck for structure and stability, used a cauterant and stitched the vessels shut, and sewed the head back on. Then, a product called wound filler (a wax-type substance) covered the baseball stitches and have the appearance of smooth flesh. Then l airbrushed the makeup on.
This is the funniest way I can describe one of the grossest parts of my job... Washing and plugging up vaginal and anal holes
Why do I like my job?
It's really rewarding. I love getting difficult cases and giving the families a peaceful chance to say goodbye.
Fact: very obese people can start grease fires in crematories so most use an absorbent such as Kitty litter. So in obese cases, not all of the "Ashes"are necessarily cremated remains.
How do you become a funeral director/embalmer?
Go to college and get a degree in mortuary science, pass the National Board Exams (arts and science), complete an apprenticeship. Ta Da!
What is the saddest part?
The saddest part of the job is children. I am still emotionally haunted by a two year old girl... She was the most adorable little thing and her parents were told, after her, that they would never be able to have kids again... Autopsy/coroner employees in most states only require a high school diploma... No college degree or license... The coroner determined the cause of death to be SIDS.... No reason known why she died. I cried a lot.
Drug overdose? Why is that complicated?
Drug overdoses make embalming difficult for two main reasons; it causes a chemical imbalance which can render embalming arterial fluid ineffective, they cause major organ damage. If the liver and kidneys are weak or torn, they can release urea into the body which basically neutralizes the formaldehyde. If the arteries, veins, or heart are damaged, the embalming process (which requires an intact circulatory system), would be unable to cycle.
What is involved in facial reconstruction?
Depending on the case, here are some procedures that may have to be done; puzzling the skull back together, using prosthetics to fill in for missing bones or body parts, applying cosmetic waxes or wound filler to gashes, lacerations, and open wounds, treating the areas with wax (adding hair, stippling to appear as porous, adding wrinkles and lines, etc), applying cosmetics either by hand or with an airbrush, and styling hair.
What's the craziest thing someone had asked me to do to their loved one.
I get requests quite often to make someone's deceased wife "perky" but the one that takes the cake wasn't mine but my college professor. They had top prop a guy up in the corner, holding a beer... She said it was incredibly difficult.
I'm happy to answer questions about any of my three jobs.
Oh, I'm also a life insurance "purchaser" meaning in licensed to sell life insurance policies. In Colorado, you have to have a life insurance license to sell pre-need funeral arrangements... Weird, huh?
Oh, and if anyone cares, here's my Etsy.