Not long ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a "lively" and enthusiastic program called Drowned Dames, Mauled Men, and Crispy Critters: A Body Disposal Primer for Writers presented by Jeanne Adams. Ms. Adams became a writer after working in the funeral business for several years. Now she's the author of thrilling suspense and magical romance.
I learned quite a few things that I'll be applying to my writing. One of my books involves a shooting, a coroner, a mortuary and a funeral. So this workshop was rather timely for me, and Ms. Adams was eager to answer any and all questions!
Here are a few tidbits of interest I learned:
- Coffin vs. Casket -- There is a difference! A coffin is an eight sided "Dracula Box." Caskets came into vogue around the 1930's. That's when the coffin evolved into a furniture grade item (case--casket).
- Best ways of natural body disposal include sharks, alligators and crocodiles.
- Donating your body to a Research Facility -- This is harder than you think! The facility has to want your body. If you're about 97, chances are you're not wanted. A thirty year old has a better chance.
- Full postmortem vs. limited autopsy -- Full postmortem involves the removal of the brain and all internal organs. Limited autopsy only involves the removal of one organ.
- Embalming -- Head has to be elevated (to rest on pillow later in casket) arms have to be elevated into position (such as crossed on chest). Once the embalming fluid is in, the corpse won't move.
- Open Casket vs. Closed-- Some families do want an open casket, even when the deceased has been disfigured (i.e. gunshot wound), and the reconstruction doesn't look that great. If the funeral home deems the appearance too inappropriate, they won't allow it, but will instead refer the family to a different funeral home.
- Cremated Remains -- In the "biz" known as "cremains."
- Scattering of Ashes -- Illegal at sea.
Any thoughts of your own on body disposal? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!
Reposted from 7/12/10.