Finding Beauty in Death: Recapturing the Living Spark

When attending a funeral or visitation, it is not unusual to hear comments whispered around the body such as, “She looks really good,” or “He appears so natural.” Often, a funeral home’s reputation is made or lost based on nothing more than how the body is presented. So who performs this all-important service?

Arlington National CemeteryThe Mortician

Most funeral homes do not employ an individual whose only job is funeral cosmetology. The hair and make-up, as well as the clothes and overall presentation of the deceased, is most often put together by the same person who performs the embalming procedure, frequently the mortician or Funeral Director.

That is not to say that these men and women have not been extensively trained. On the contrary, funeral cosmetology is a skill that is often required as part of a mortuary science degree. However, recapturing the spark of life is more akin to art than science.

The Heart of a Poet

Heart of a PoetIt takes a special kind of person to be a mortician. I once asked a friend of mine if it was difficult for him to prepare the bodies of those he knew well or was close to in life. He told me that the opposite was true. He viewed it as an opportunity to honor the memory of the person he once knew. Yes, he would feel grief at their passing, but it afforded him a private moment to say goodbye, a chance to ensure that they received the best care possible and it allowed him one more opportunity to show them the love and respect they so richly deserved.

His response always seemed poetic to me, rife with meaning and beauty. And yet I knew that I would struggle to successfully view the situation in that same light. He does a job I could not do, and does it with an outlook I could not maintain.

So next time you are impressed with the way a loved one is presented, make sure to let the Funeral Director know how much you appreciate his work. They perform their duties with honor and respect, and they deserve no less from us.


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