In our culture of constant connection, ideas and opinions are hard to escape. Subjects once considered taboo are considered pub drinks or added to the wall of social media noise. Yet when it comes to death, the conversation becomes cold. We receive death completely unprepared. Death, in spite of its certainty, remains discouraging and constitutes an easy conversation to postpone. We are talking about death in hindsight, as it happens to others. We are not talking about our own death. We do not understand our options. Strangely, we do not like to recognize the inevitable.
According to Kevin Sinclair – a second-generation embalmer – our culture approaches death by denial. "There is a feeling that if you do not talk about death, it will not happen … I'm not afraid of death, it's death and taxes, that's we happen to all, "he says.
To demystify the end of life, I spoke to Sinclair, who worked at the funeral service for most of his life and completed 40,000 cases of embalming. From green funerals to the process of embalming, it gives insights into the trade in death and the importance of talking about death in life:
Funeral and burial is an important step for family and friends.
"It helps cope with the loss," Sinclair said. This is especially important in cases where the death is unforeseen. "If someone has committed suicide, emotions are shared or there is a quick death, there is an associated shock, and [the service] help people to accept death. "
The last offices refer to the deceased's preparation for burial or cremation.
Options range from bathing to body and closing eyes to full embalming.
On average, bodies are buried or incinerated two weeks after death.
Burial and cremation require administrative formalities – yes, even at death, there is administrator life. To officially register the death, it must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This includes stillbirths after the 24th week of pregnancy. In order to complete the registration, a medical certificate stating the cause of death must be provided. Depending on the place of death, the medical certificate may be issued by a hospital doctor or a family doctor. After registration, the registrar will issue a green certificate, which allows the burial.
Cremation requires the approval of two doctors before the body is taken to the crematorium.
"The first doctor is usually the family doctor who knows the medical history of the deceased, the second doctor should check and certify," Sinclair said. It may take a while to put all the documents in order. "If you can imagine trying to call a doctor for a busy surgery, it might take two to three days to see them."
Embalming is the act of preserving the body and is used when burial or cremation can not be performed immediately after the death.
"We have a sliding scale of necessary treatments based on preservation, sanitation and presentation," he said. The approach is adjusted according to the needs of the deceased. "We can take care of someone for a few days, weeks or months, which is necessary."
The embalmer needs to know the cause of death and the medical history to properly treat the body and ensure that the preservative fluid does not further damage the body. "This is where the skills of the embalmer are important. It's not just about anatomy. It's also a question of chemistry. In life, the bacteria that we eliminate help you digest, in death, there is nothing more to digest begins to look around … it will begin to deteriorate and bring the body back to its natural constituents. "
The most difficult thing about the role of embalming concerns children.
"Or a person in your care who has made the headlines – a victim of a disaster or a new one and you know more than basic documentation.As an embalmer, you must activate your professionalism. It is likely that the embalmer will have his own family and it may happen that an embalmer feels confused. "
The green burials really exist.
These advocate the use of products and processes to minimize the environmental impact of burials. This includes coffins produced locally, from ethical sources, without tombstones and without embalming. At the request of the individual, the funeral service technicians can arrange a facial presentation, a bandage and soft cosmetics.
The funeral industry is changing all the time.
"There is a lot to learn from movies," Sinclair said. "There are new ways to use cosmetics, the arts of restoration, airbrush, reconstruction of limbs and eyes, all that is needed for people to say goodbye."
Hair and nails do not continue to grow after death.
"[It’s] a common misconception, "says Sinclair. It's the dehydrating skin – the nails do not lengthen, it's the skin that retracts which then makes the appearance of the hair and nails slightly longer. "
Working in the funeral service is rewarding.
"Originally, I wanted to be a graphic designer, I had a lot of goals, to create my own business management l & # 39; schoolSaid Sinclair, "But the funeral service takes you, you are engulfed … you blink your eyes and you have accomplished ten years … it takes your whole life. It 's not just 9am – 5am, it' s 24/7. As far as I am concerned, I am only a guy who is trying to help people. "