Comments: 1427 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

aliceismalice542 karma

I do a lot of post mortem care at the hospital before the funeral home receives the body. What can I do during my cares to make your job easier?

Also, I talk to the person's body as I'm cleaning them, explaining what I'm doing as if they could hear me. Do you do anything similar?

deruvoo608 karma

Honestly, you can't do much to make it easier on us. Maybe remove their clothes and wipe any excrement that came out? Not sure if you're allowed to do that with bodies at the hospital.

We do talk to the bodies, can confirm.

moraug34435 karma

What's your weirdest and/or your funniest dead body story?

deruvoo1739 karma

Oh man, I have the perfect story for this question. Never thought I'd find a "good" reason to tell it.

This will require a bit of explanation before we get to the juicy weird part.

So, usually, if embalming, you can get lucky and only have to make one incision-- this goes on your upper right clavicle. However, depending on the quality of your arteries, an embalmer may have to make incisions in different areas of the body to inject arterial embalming fluid to make sure the spread of the fluid encompasses and preserves the entire body.

On one such case, an elderly woman had not received proper flow of fluid in the legs, so we had to make incisions on both of her thighs to reach her femoral artery.

So, we took care of all that. Left the incisions open for the time being, because we still needed to aspirate her. Now, aspiration in embalming involves taking a "trocar" (basically a long-ass spear, google it) and piercing the stomach, effectively vacuuming out the internal viscera.

When we were performing this part of the embalming, I could hear a strange sound, like a combination of a fart and a bagpipe's high pitch playing. (I'm great with descriptions.) Took myself and the overseeing embalmer a moment to figure out what it was, as she hadn't encountered this before either.

Turns out the incisions we left open were lightly being sucked in by the pressure of the trocar. Figured it out when one of us squeezed one of the incisions with one of our hands, and the other two incisions turned into different notes of musical death.

Not sure if I'm proud to say it, but it was a little humorous squeezing the different incisions to different tunes. It was the same sort of magic as someone running their finger along a glass to make music.

fuzzycommie268 karma

How can I make sure that my corpse can make these sounds after I pass away do you think if I were to get dotted lines tattooed on certain portions of my body and add "WHEN I DIE, CUT ALONG THE DOTTED LINES AND SQUEEZE" into my will that I could legally be turned into a musical instrument?

I'm ready to commit to a life of cholesterol for this.

Also, when you get to basic training, always remember to double salute for planes. Once for the pilot and once for the co-pilot as they are both commissioned officers.

deruvoo191 karma

There're no guaranteed ways, hate to tell you. The embalmer I worked with on that case had been working for 10+ years, and that was a first for her.

Maybe eat a lot of beans and Mexican food before you die. Plan it out right, pal.

I appreciate the advice! I'll be working as a crew chief so I'll be around the pilots a lot, I assume.

fuzzycommie159 karma

You were so prompt in your response that I feel like crap and I regret to inform you that I was lying. Do not double salute the aircraft. You will get yelled at.

However, do bring a clipboard with you. The sturdiest one you can find. You're going to need it throughout basic and potentially through Airman's Week depending on the facilitators you're assigned.

Good luck. Aim High, Fly, Fight, Win.

deruvoo106 karma

No hard feelings! I'm gullible for bullshit like that. Thanks man!

shootblue267 karma

How do you feel Little Caesars prepared you for handling the deceased?

deruvoo382 karma

I feel like I would've been much better prepared if I had gone into cremation, instead.

PseudoY256 karma

What do you want done with your body when you die?

deruvoo493 karma

If I have no surviving family, I'd prefer to not be embalmed, and buried next to my spouse, preferably in some way that allows me to decompose into the soil around me. So, probably a green burial.

If I have surviving family, I'd want to be embalmed so a proper visitation could occur-- there're far too many values in seeing the body to ignore, and I'd want them to see me so they could grieve in the healthiest way possible.

This_Explains_A_Lot179 karma

I dont really understand how seeing the body would help? Is this a known thiing? What is the thinking behind it?

deruvoo524 karma

It helps in the realm of accepting the reality of the death itself. Frequently, we see people who find a reason to avoid viewing the body, and they have chronic grief for years to come. Saw it happen with my mother when her parents passed away.

When you see the body there, dead, you can no longer make up crazy stories like "Nah, dad's alive in Bermuda." (And some people do these mental gymnastics, you'd be surprised.)

zerpderp2 karma

Question: Why no embalming if you don't have any surviving family left? Just preference or?

I'm sorry that I don't understand. Is embalming only done if there is a viewing?

deruvoo20 karma

The guy who answered you first has it right-- an unembalmed body isn't typically allowed a visitation due to some complications that can occur. Least of all odor.

There's this fun thing called purge that can occur. Imagine having a viewing and your loved one starts leaking frothy fluid, clear bile, or coffee-ground looking stuff from his/her mouth. That's why we require embalming to have a viewing. It prevents stuff like that from happening during the event.

poligarcia254 karma

What was the weirdest request you received from a family member?

deruvoo673 karma

There was a very, very large woman who had passed away from a car crash. Very sweet family overall, no issues there. The bra they had brought us to put on her was rather Madonna-ish. When she was laying in the casket, it made her boobs look like twin pyramids. We sorta shrugged it off as "Well, this is what the family wanted."

Later on, during the visitation, the husband actually came and requested we remove it since it was just too weird. Which, was a little difficult. We had to reach into her arm's sleeve, cut the bra up with a dull scalpel (as our embalming facilities are not actively used or kept up, like they should be) and remove the bra piece by piece.

Was more on my "weird" factor just because it was difficult moving around with such a large woman, to remove the bra.

Other weird requests:

-A woman wanted her pet dog buried on top of her husband's grave after the dog had passed. We technically are not allowed to do that, but we did so after hours at dark because she's a well known, and very kind, member of the community.

-One young model's funeral was handled by her agent, who wanted her buried in her lingerie only. Complied with that as well.

snow-light87 karma

One young model's funeral was handled by her agent, who wanted her buried in her lingerie only. Complied with that as well.

The family wasn't involved in the funeral? Was it open casket or something?

deruvoo122 karma

Nope, she had no contact info for family, and anybody we thought could've been family refused to reply or answer our calls. It was a shady agent, for sure. There were only 20 or so guests, mainly other people in the same industry, but the casket was closed during visitation. Only the agent and a close friend were allowed to see her in that condition, and only after signing a couple of waivers.

snow-light53 karma

Wow that's sad. :( What kind of waivers did they have to sign?

deruvoo104 karma

Just one's that basically say they can't sue for seeing the body like it was, after we informed them that such a scantily clad body may be viewed as disturbing.

CivilityBeDamned-13 karma

cut the bra up with a dull scalpel (as our embalming facilities are not actively used or kept up, like they should be) and remove the bra piece by piece.

Holy fuck!! I don't work at a funeral home, but I provide IT support for almost half a dozen. That is a story that would mortify ANY of the people I worked with. Jesus...

And for the dog thing...That wouldn't remotely be your decision as a funeral director. That would be a decision for the cemetery. Are you honestly going to claim that you managed, or were willing to, dig up a grave and and add a dog on top while trespassing?

One more bullshit AMA.

deruvoo7 karma

Damn, who pissed on your grave?

I've worked at two different locations; the one the dog incident occurred at had a cemetery attached. It's not really uncommon, friend.

jmanpc209 karma

I just attended the funeral for my grandmother Wednesday. The staff at the funeral home were excellent. They were very attentive and caring. All I could think, though, is these guys have sat through thousands of funerals. How do they keep it up? How do you continue to show compassion or at least fake it so well? Does it get depressing dealing with grieving people day in and day out?

deruvoo314 karma

Condolences for your grandmother. I know how hard that can be, especially if you were close with her.

This isn't to discredit the great men and women who worked with you, but if you do a job long enough, you get good at it. That's the best way I can explain how we keep professionalism up. It's not that we don't care about the individual families-- we do, for sure. But it'd be a lie to tell you that we aren't going through the motions, especially during a busy week.

It can get depressing, but usually the depressing instances are those with children, people who died without making up with loved ones, and etc. With most elderly folks, we usually get to listen to some pretty neat life stories, and so it's more interesting than depressing. But, of course, there is the occasional depressing elderly case as well, as exampled in one of my earlier posts.

It's a job, but it's also a calling. We keep both mindsets on the day-to-day.

Bwhite0425181 karma

I've heard working with the families can be the hardest part of the job. Have you had any extremely negative and/or positive interactions with the grieving family members that stand out in your mind?

deruvoo581 karma

I'm lucky in that a family has never become unbearable with me directly. We've had our share of alcoholics that act out, snobs that look down on our job while ironically needing our services, and people who are just straight up repulsed by what we do. Nothing ever happened with any of them that set me off, though.

The craziest instance of a family we've performed services for... that would've been when this man was found shot in his home. Police didn't catch the suspect until a couple of weeks after the funeral service, and it turns out said suspect was the man's wife, who plotted the murder with her boyfriend. The thought that I was sitting across from a murderer when handling those arrangements-- that was mindblowing.

PlanZuid801 karma

Says the man who played an old dead woman like a Dalhmer-esque musical instrument...

deruvoo403 karma

Guilty as charged.

fibesman179 karma

Fellow FD here. 31 years in the business. I've done same thing. Sitting across from someone you know commited the murder is one of the hardest things I've done.

deruvoo22 karma

Much respect to you, friend.

ImNotCrazyYesIAm170 karma

What was the most emotionally difficult thing you've had to do in your career?

deruvoo442 karma

Difficult question. It falls between embalming and reconstructing a five year old who had been hit by a car (who's head was run over, as well); or it would've been when we had a funeral for an elderly woman, and her husband had tried killing himself two days prior to the funeral service, which happened during the Christmas season. He was the first to show up the next morning, along with a granddaughter. I took him to the back with me and had breakfast with him while his family visited the body, and was completely unaware of the suicide attempt until he just spot on told me.

It really struck a nerve. When I was 16, my grandparents died within two weeks of each other before and after Christmas. After my grandmother died, I was with my depressed and grieving grandfather day and night afterwards, until he finally passed away as well. This event with the suicidal old man sort of brought that back to mind; and trying to talk him down from trying it again was brutally difficult for me. Even more so seeing how his family was coming to check on him and realizing just why that was.

x86_64Ubuntu85 karma

This is probably one of the more "human" "I'm an embalmer" threads I've seen. Your career and profession creeps me the fuck out, but it's very comforting to see that you are an average joe with feelings and empathy like a guy on the street.

deruvoo151 karma

Thanks! A lot of people forget that we aren't all pale creeps who rub our hands together when we see an ambulance speed by :p

FreelancerTex_67 karma

How does one go about reconstructing a head that was run over, or anything that is fairly grizzly? I assume it involves prosthetic work?

deruvoo112 karma

For this particular case, it involved gettting the pieces of skull back where they needed to be, and then suturing it all together, using wax to hide the stitch lines. Thankfully, most of the bad spots were around his hair, so it was easier to hide.

pokeysrevenge154 karma

My father died recently. He was in the Navy during Vietnam. We were under the impression that we'd need to file something with the VA to get his flag - but the funeral home had it at the service, less than a week after he died. Do you guys keep them on hand or what?

deruvoo187 karma

Sorry about your father, man. There's never anything someone can say to help with that-- but I hope you're doing okay.

The file needed to receive a flag for burial purposes is form DD-214, discharge papers. If you brought in a big folder of stuff to the FH when first coming in to make arrangements, it could've been in the folder. Otherwise, for whatever reason, we somehow have leftover flags from military services that didn't use them (families bringing their own flag, for instance). That's how it is where I work, anyways. So, we'll still take the copy of the DD-214 to a post office, and trade it for a flag, in case a family ever needs it.

bunniswife122 karma

Why hasn't the funeral industry come up with an effect way to embalm babies? While I realize the vessels in babies are very small, there has to be a better way than the osmosis method which doesn't properly embalm and tends to dry out the skin. I am currently applying for a funeral services course at university and this is something I'm interested in developing in my future career.

deruvoo209 karma

You sort of answered your own question. However, we do embalm infants through the innominate artery, as well as the aorta, combined with the osmosis effect. It's also worth mentioning that skin dehydration happens with any method of embalming, regardless of age. The big difficulty with infant embalming is that mothers want to hold the baby's body when they come in to the FH, which is obviously allowed. However, there is a natural "feel" to how babies feel to hold, and there's no good, reliable way to reproduce that, as the body will be stiff, cold, and dried out.

It's a huge issue, but I don't believe there's a way around it with our current methods of embalming. That's where the restorative art branch comes in, where I've seen methods such as wrapping the baby up in a blanket to make it feel a little more natural due to the cushioning of the blanket, instead of just leaving the baby in clothes and calling it a day.

I hope that answered your question just a little bit. I come off as ranting a lot of the time.

bunniswife136 karma

My six day old son was embalmed after he died due to complications from open heart surgery. We were in a big city with a Children's Hospital approximately five hours from home. The plan was to move home when our son died as we had no reason anymore to stay there anymore. However, I was still admitted with a severe e. coli infection. When the funeral director from our town showed up to pick our son up and realized I was still admitted and wasn't sure when I would be released, as well as having to pack up our house and move back home, he suggested we embalm him. I wasn't opposed to the idea but he explained it wouldn't be what I expected due to the small vessels. He was right. As a grieving mother, I wanted desperately to hold my son again one last time before his funeral but the embalming of my son was so unsatisfactory (without going into the awful details), I couldnt.

Since then, I am determined to research every available method and find something that works better so that another grieving parent doesn't have to go through what I experienced. Interestingly, I read a blog of a funeral director who has also experienced problems with unsatisfactory results when preserving the bodies of babies and small children. He has developed his own method where he embalms through the aorta of the heart, but usually doesn't like to do this unless the parents are fully aware of how he has to access that particular vessel.

deruvoo103 karma

I am so, so sorry. I hope you find peace along your studies.

The aortic method of infant embalming was taught to us in school, so I'm not sure if it's such a strange and foreign method. There, unfortunately, will never be a way to keep the skin from wrinkling, unless a new mixture of embalming fluid is created. I know there are some out there right now that don't use formaldehyde, and so the dehydrating effect is probably lessened, but I don't believe they see much use.

If I was to try and point you in the right direction, I'd advise looking alternative embalming fluids, especially those that don't use formaldehyde. For the average adult body, such fluids are considered ineffective, but for a small child, it could work.

Best of luck. Again, I'm very sorry.

Zomg_A_Chicken87 karma

Have you seen Six Feet Under?

deruvoo59 karma

I need to, apparently! But yeah, the answer's no. It's now on my to-watch list though.

Unsungghost82 karma

I've heard it's extremely difficult to attend an autopsy or embalming, even for people studying in the field, or working with funeral staff. I've been interested in attending something like this, more for curiosity than anything. Short of getting a degree is there an appropriate way for a person to attend one of these, or are they entirely closed to the public? I want to remain extremely respectful to all parties involved, and it seems rude to even ask something like this. So I apologize ahead of time.

deruvoo127 karma

Here's what I would do in your instance. If you just have a morbid curiosity with it, and don't mind fibbing just a little bit, do the following:

-Find a local funeral home

-Walk in, dressed nicely

-Explain that you've been curious about getting a job in the business, but you're not sure you have the stomach for it. Ask if you could shadow an embalming just to check

-Make sure it's absolutely clear you aren't asking for a job, and they're more likely to let you watch.

If you get a job in an independent funeral home, you can easily see embalmings. Not sure if you want to see one bad enough to work at one, though. Haha.

Can't really help you on autopsies. While I have embalmed autopsied bodies, I've never viewed an autopsy in progress, and wouldn't know how to get into viewing one. Apologies there.

Your question isn't rude at all, so don't worry about that. Further, to work at a FH part time, you don't need anything other than a high-school education. Good luck!

blanket4orts81 karma

What is the most difficult part of your job?

deruvoo326 karma

This will sound a little corny, but it's definitely just trying not to look at it as just a "job." You have to straddle the border of professional distance, and empathic closeness. Otherwise you risk becoming jaded and burned out to the reality of death; and forget to have that empathy for families. A lot of funeral directors go in cycles of being depressed by every case, to being unusually distant from them until an exemplary one (such as a child dying) brings them back to the reality of the job they perform on a day-to-day.

Also, an equally hard part is keeping yourself from letting the shit you see every day affect your personal life. Once the reality of mortality sets in, you can find yourself nihilistic, or scrutinizing every decision you make, trying to make sure you won't ruin your life the way you've seen some people ruin theirs.

It's terrifying how one little mistake can throw a person off a great life-- we see it all the time when hearing about how a person lived, and eventually died, from their family.

null__set37 karma

I remember watching a really great Japanese film that basically focused on this interaction.


Worth a watch.

deruvoo31 karma

Great film! Probably one of the few "funeral" related movies I've actually scene.

CaptnCheerio76 karma

My grandfather passed away two weeks ago. He was very sickly when he passed and extremely underweight, but he looked very 'healthy' in his casket. My mom and I were trying to figure out what they did that helped him look more husky. What methods do you use to give the appearance of weight?

Also, thank you for the work you do. I can't imagine how draining it is to be around grieving families all the time. I'm sure you know it already but you provide an immense amount of comfort and closure to families.

deruvoo95 karma

If your grandfather was in a suit, that helps bulk him up quite a bit to the naked eye. Outside of that, embalming fluid restores color to the face, and often people who were very sick, such as the elderly or cancer victims, look rather younger and healthier after the embalming.

My first time actually working an embalming, I was amazed at seeing how they looked before compared to during and after. It's a night-to-day sorta change.

CaptnCheerio28 karma

He was in a button up flannel shirt and denim bibs. Those were the clothes he wore when he was 165lbs, when he died he was a little more than 100lb.

I was thinking maybe they padded him up so he would present better. Is that something you guys do?

deruvoo26 karma

Hm. No, not at our location. I'm not sure what exactly they did-- embalming fluid can restore a little bulk, but not to the degree of 65lbs of bulk. I'm perplexed, honestly. I'd have to see the case to speak further on it.

Sarsinnj51 karma

What do you do if a family doesn't pay? Have you ever run into that situation?

deruvoo76 karma

This will seem like a cop out answer, but if that ever happens, I just hand it over to my manager and let him handle it.

It usually never does-- we demand payment in full by time of performance of services. That issue happens a lot more with independently run funeral homes.

zachtothejohnson50 karma

How exactly did you start working as embalmer? That doesn't seem like something you just apply to learn.

deruvoo76 karma

Well, I work in a corporation. All embalmings currently take place in a central location, and then bodies are delivered (usually by apprentices) to the funeral home the services will be held at.

So, when I first began working, I did not work at said central location. My funeral home only performed services and arrangements. However, when an apprenticeship is officially began, you're usually encouraged to sign on for an embalming apprenticeship along with the normal "directing" apprenticeship. So since I had an active embalmer's apprenticeship going, I asked my boss if I could take a day out of the week to work at the central location and help prepare bodies. He was more than happy to oblige.

Further, when you go through school, your classes are split into two categories: sciences, which focuses on the embalming side of the job; and arts, which focuses on the directing/counseling part. One of the latter science classes is a lab class, where we have to embalm 20 bodies before the end of the semester as a class.

It's basically on the job training. You could rather easily get an embalming apprenticeship; you just need to find a FH in need of an apprentice.

Soperos18 karma

How long do you need to go to school for this?

deruvoo28 karma

My funeral program was a year long; with a year of pre-requisites taken beforehand. Some programs are two years long. It just depends on which school you go to.

DangerKitties8 karma

SCI? Their headquarters are close to where i work so I see their building all the time.

What are the central processing facilities like? I have always wondered that.. Are they like a large warehouse that's basically set up like a conveyor belt and just rush bodies through? Are they located in weird areas or do they blend in with normal surroundings?

deruvoo9 karma

Can't confirm or deny the SCI part!

The care center I frequent is actually placed above an operational funeral home.

You have two small embalming rooms, a cooling room for holding bodies, a large "dressing" room where embalmed bodies are lined up to be dressed and casketed, and a breakroom/office area.

koproller42 karma

I can imagine when you're working, you get used to the idea that the bodies you're working on are dead. They are just bodies.
Did you ever felt somewhat attracted to a body?

deruvoo221 karma

Thankfully, no. I haven't worked on too many younger women, so can't say I've had that chance. But, on top of that, knowing what the body goes through within just an hour of dying pretty much kills any aesthetic factors you can run into.

The closest I've gotten would've been a case where we were embalming this elderly woman, and I noticed her boobs looked unnaturally youthful. Commented on it, "What's up with her tits, John?" to the head embalmer. Got the response, "Implants, kid."

jdgmental33 karma

How does your job affect your personal life? Can you just go out the door and be your jolly self afterwards or are there people or cases that affect you in any way?

I was passing by a funeral home the other day and I thought to myself, what if you're naturally a happy person and need to be serious and sad /empathic with grieving customers? I don't think I'd ever be able to do it, thinking of emotional exhaustion. So this is what made me ask.

thanks for doing this ama!

deruvoo75 karma

There's definitely an effect. In my case, at least, it's caused me to question just about every decision I make in life, wondering if I'll regret it later. This is normal if you're an over thinker anyways, but imagine that multiplied by ten. I also worry if I'm spending enough time with my parents, with my friends. I'm not afraid of dying anymore-- instead, I'm afraid of how my family would cope if I died. Catch 22. Basically, the job can cause mini-existential crisis. But I'm probably stating it a little more dramatic than it is.

Further, there were some issues when I first started doing arrangement conferences, on two fronts:

-I have a naturally sarcastic voice, even if my meaning isn't such

-I'm very casual with people, and that's how I show kindness/respect. Not by talking down to them.

My manager would get pissed by how I spoke to families, but the families never had issue with it. I was myself, and I made the families happy.

You do need to be empathic with the families, for sure, but many times they want someone who's a solid foundation to guide them. So, while empathizing, I'd provide advice as to what package may be best suited for their financial situation and emotional needs; even going as far as recommending other funeral homes to them that had lower pricing, which I'm definitely -not- supposed to do.

It's all about honesty. If you can resist being pulled into the car salesman mindset many funeral homes are falling into lately, you can really help. And the families know when you have helped, and are always sure to thank you.

yesqueen32 karma

Have you ever worked in the customer service/service industry before? If so, does that make the embalming process more satisfying?

deruvoo57 karma

I'd argue that the funeral business is a customer service industry in itself. I haven't worked in any other job aside from Little Caesar's pizza when I was 17.

There is definitely a feel good factor when you can take a really fucked up corpse and turn it into something you'd show its mother/wife/husband/father/etc. You're helping them grieve.

IWeigh600Pounds29 karma

How much more does it cost to bury a morbidly obese (600+ pounds) person than an average sized person?

deruvoo42 karma

It will cost you about 1.5-2,000 dollars extra to get an oversized casket and outer-burial container/vault(if needed). That should be the only up-charge, unless the person takes up more than one grave space, which means you'll have to buy a new grave. Not sure what costs run on that, as it varies by cemetery.

SailorVanIndium27 karma

Isn't it, overall, depressing?

deruvoo75 karma

It can be! But I'm a huge advocate of the Stoic philosophy-- Marcus Aurelius, Seneca the Younger, etc. And I've found such mental practices help a lot with coping in the face of mortality.

Would definitely recommend looking into that philosophy if you have a fear of death or difficulty accepting things as they are.

PrincessStudbull27 karma

I am an autopsy assistant. After an autopsy, we put the viscera in a bag in the thoracic cavity. What do you do with that when embalming? How do you embalm a plastic bag full of organs?

deruvoo34 karma

"How do you embalm a plastic bag full of organs?" We leave it in the open bag and pour cavity fluid on it. Not shitting you. Once the embalming is completed with the body, we take the bags and place them in the thoracic cavity, and then renew the sutures you guys placed on the body during autopsy.

DuffMiester26 karma

Have you ever had to embalm a relative or someone you knew?

deruvoo84 karma

I've had the opportunity, but didn't take it. My grandmother on my father's side passed away a year and a half back, and I kindly abstained from participating in the embalming. I did take reigns of the service itself, though.

It's funny, the guy who embalmed her was this ancient 90-something embalmer who, after finding out I was in the business, proudly proclaimed in front of other people at the funeral, that he had "buried [insert town's name] twice over!" in his career. He apparently had known my mother's father, his brother, and a lot of my family. So that was encouraging, knowing that he had such a personal relationship with my family.

dianacqin25 karma

Have you ever felt scared or creeped out at work?

deruvoo86 karma

A little bit, for sure! On Sundays, I'm usually left alone to watch the funeral home. Most such days, we don't have anything going, so I'm alone from 8am-5pm. It gets a little creepy. My brain likes to play tricks on me, making me think certain sounds are footsteps and whatnot. But I have taken naps while alone in the FH, sometimes in a room with an occupied casket (due to the comfy couches in said room.)

After a while, the creepy factor fades into a cozy factor.

matrawr24 karma

Ive always wanted to work in the death industry. My dream is to become a medical examiner when I retire from engineering(weird i know) I have done a lot of research on embalming, cremation, green burial, body donation and all that. Would you consider donating your body to science? Do you cremate bodies as well? Do you openly tell people you work in the death industry? Or do you wait to get to know them and then say "oh yea i work with dead bodies"? Oh i just have so many questions and would love to hear your experiences and all that!!

deruvoo72 karma

I personally wouldn't donate my body to science. No sand on the people who do, it's a noble thing. I'm greedy and want my body to be visited by loved ones after I go, though.

I love freaking out my fiance's friends who don't know about my job when we go to dinner-- I always try to make it a centerpiece of conversation just because I'm that big of an asshole. The responses I get are genuinely hilarious.

Arkeros22 karma

Let's say my old dad died in home care. Could you summarise what you do from picking up the phone until you send me the bill?
How much for cremation and simple funeral without priest, excluding external service like the cremation itself.

deruvoo34 karma

Sure! I'll keep it brief.

-Pick up. We currently outsource this to a third-party company that delivers to our central prep location; but usually they'll come to your house, remove the body, and give you a list of items you need to gather for arrangements, a number to contact to funeral home if needed, and will tell you that the FH will contact them ASAP.

-When the body arrives, it's embalmed and stored in a containment room.

-The family of the deceased will come into the FH and make arrangements, bringing in any burial insurance or policies, clothing for the deceased, and payment methods. This is usually where the family pays.

-The clothes are taken down to the central prep building, where they are placed on the deceased, and then the deceased is loaded into the casket.

-The body is brought back to the FH, for services to be performed, then taken to a graveside, or back to the crematory/retort

-If cremated, the family will come back to the FH to pick up the cremains.

-A family service counselor will then contact the family a week or two later to discuss how they're doing, and possibly pre-arrange future funerals.

TheTrueFlexKavana21 karma

Do people over pay for what they get?

How much should people pay for a decent funeral?

Have you ever seen Death, Inc.? (Penn & Teller's Bullshit episode on the funeral industry). Thoughts on it?

deruvoo41 karma

"Do people over pay for what they get?" 1000000% yes. I can't tell you the number of times I've directed a family elsewhere without my boss knowing, simply because they couldn't afford our ridiculous pricing. I can't name the specific corporation I work for due to legal shit, but it's easy enough to find. Our average funeral prices run about 10-11$k a piece.

Our cheapest package is $5,000, and that's for a direct burial; no visitation or chapel service.

I would fully recommend going to independent funeral homes and getting a funeral for 3-4$k. Though, it's difficult to recommend you a realistic price, as it varies by area. Funerals, in general, are cheaper where I live compared to somewhere like NYC or LA.

The only bonuses you get from going to a nationally owned corp. are things like transferability of pre-arrangements to FH's owned by that corp elsewhere in the country, and some options you won't find at independents, such as catering.

And I have not seen that. I'll probably look into it though.

Ugly_Couch18 karma

I used to work for Hauke Enterprise. We did all the grounds keeping and internments.

I did an AMA about a year ago.

My question is have you heard the term "Smells like money",and how often?

deruvoo28 karma

Laughed out loud when I saw this one. I've only heard it a couple of times in the few years I've worked. A more common one for us is "Every day's a holiday, every meal's a banquet."

deruvoo16 karma

Taking a break from the AMA for tonight! Not sure if rules permit me to come back tomorrow to continue, but if they do, I will! It's been fun. Didn't expect the thread to blow up so much. Thank you, all!

WoodEwe16 karma

Has being a member of the funeral industry diminished the value of a funeral in the grieving process for you personally?

deruvoo43 karma

Not at all. If anything, it's reinforced its value.

It has made me a bit smarter regarding costs, though.

WarrenPryor13 karma

I don't mean to sound glib, or derisive...but in your professional opinion, what the hell is the impetus for necrophilia? I've heard some crazy stories coming out of your field.

deruvoo39 karma

Couldn't guess. I've heard some as well. Heard of this old director getting drunk and fucking bodies-- his wife eventually caught on; so before a closed-casket service he swapped the deceased's body with hers while she was knocked out, and attempted to bury her alive. Thankfully, she woke up and began screaming before they dropped the dirt on her. Reminder: I've only -heard- this story. I believe it happened in North or South Carolina.

RuffianTiffRaff2 karma

I've often heard that embalming is expensive & completely unnecessary if the funeral is closed casket. So, why do so many people get it done? I heard that it provides "dignity" to the deceased, but isn't it worse being injected full of chemicals than just naturally rotting?

Also, speaking of open caskets, what's the usual appeal there? Why does it give some people closure? I've never been to an open casket funeral, & the idea creeps me out. Even when my grandmother died, I stayed by her side, but couldn't bring myself to look at her body once she actually passed.

deruvoo5 karma

It is completely unnecessary unless a visitation is performed, or unless a grave requires it. I'm personally opposed to being embalmed myself, unless I have surviving relatives.

Open caskets, around here, usually only stay open for the visitation, then are closed for the service. Their appeal usually comes from people just accepting the reality of death; to old friends who haven't seen the deceased in years coming and seeing their old friend's familiar face.

AdolfShitster2 karma

Can you get high from the embalming fluid you come in contact with? Meaning is it the same as Formaldehyde, the drug also knows as wet, ? Please correct if I'm wrong about something lol which I probly am.

Thank you.

deruvoo3 karma

Never heard of a drug called "wet." You can't really get high from formaldehyde, which is a gas in its natural state anyways. But, you can get sick from it. We have to monitor the STEL (short term exposure levels) in our embalming rooms to make sure our health isn't at risk.

My first time mixing embalming fluid, I stood over the centrifugal pump while loading it in. The vapor from the fluid rose and hit me in the face-- I went home early that day. Just got way too sick.

jbrav881 karma

I guess I'll be the one to say it, how accurate is Six Feet Under?

deruvoo1 karma

Haven't seen it!

Clsjajll1 karma

Are there parts of your job that anyone (or most everyone) would find enjoyable?

deruvoo8 karma

If you enjoy the idea of selling things, like cars for instance, you may enjoy the thrill of selling burial plans/packages. Wouldn't want to work with you personally, as the idea of coming into the business purely to sell expensive shit to grieving families throws me off, but that could be fun.

A universal joy, I think, would be the gratitude shown by the families. It's a great feeling, going home and knowing that you eased the pain just a bit for someone. We get a lot of thank you letters, as well.