Thursday, February 25, 2010

I got an email question:

Good Day Dollface:
First off, I enjoy your blog for giving us readers an insight into both your professional and personal life. I live in Canada and I have a question.
I would like to simply be cremated in a cardboard box without embalming. Is this possible? How can I ensure my wishes?
If you could address this question on your blog, I would really appreciate it.

Now, I don't know the rules there in the land above, but I do know them here, and I would imagine they are a lot the same, and to be sure I called up a funeral home in Vancouver to ask a question or two, and I was right.

If one wants to be cremated, and there is no viewing of the body, there is no reason to embalm the remains.  Instead, the remains are refrigerated, so as to slow down their decomposition, and then cremated when the proper documents are filed and the cremation is approved.  Into a cardboard box the remains will go, and into a retort (mortuary term!) and viola! the cremation begins.  Now, in order to ensure that your wishes to be cremated (directly, without viewing) are followed, you need to pre-arrange your cremation with a local funeral home, and then let your family know that you have done so, so that they don't call the wrong place when you die, and make unnecessary (and unwanted) arrangements. It would also be a good idea to prepay for the services, as most mortuaries will offer a guaranteed price when you pre-pay.

Is that sufficient? Would you like me to email you some mortuaries' contact info in your area?

Eight things

1. A 500 pound dead person is very large. Not to mention hard to lift into a casket.
We got a large one this week. VERY large. Like size 60 pants. Anyhoo, he ended up taking three tanks of fluid (each tank is about three gallons), and luckily (as with a lot of over-sized people) was on some sort of blood thinner before he died, so the fluid pushed through quite nicely.

2. When the office smells like marijuana nobody will fess up to being the culprit.
Not really sure what to say about this one, but the place stunk for a bit this morning.

3. Turns out that it is always better when someone leaves a suicide note.
We had two (that's right, two) self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head cases this week, neither one of which left a note, which means the authorities have more work to do to prove it was a suicide, which can make life even more difficult for an already distraught family. Imagine finding out your husband/wife/child/parent has died, then add them seizing your phone, computer, mail, bank records, etc., to investigate you in their death. Not fun.

4. The office staff do a great job of singing “Happy Birthday”
My birthday is coming up, and the boss and one of the co-workers won't be here tomorrow, so they sang to me this morning. It was nice, and we don't do that for each other normally, but I always make cupcakes for the staff on their birthday, and I think it's their way of appreciating me on my day like I do on theirs.

5. Not everyone I expected to be at my 30th birthday party is going to be there. Actually, the people I expected are the ones not showing up.
Kind of bummed about this one, especially since it's a major milestone, but I'm gonna have fun anyway, and am excited about seeing my old roommate from college whom I haven't seen in a couple of years. She's flying in from New Jersey.

6. Moving into a new apartment is a pain in the ass, especially with a full-time job and a small child.
Not really anything to say about that, except that I found my own place and have moved out of the hubby's apartment.

7. When we get wrong numbers at the funeral home, they can be quite funny.
Call went like this:
Monica: Happy Days Mortuary, this is Monica!
Caller: Yes, hi, I would like to speak with someone in your Parts Department.
Monica: Excuse me?
Caller: Yes, Parts Department please?
Monica: Sir, this is a funeral home.
Caller: I can hold.
*puts him on hold and starts laughing hysterically.  Like the kind of laughing that makes one pee their pants. Finally stops crying from laughing so hard and tells me what happened. I laugh and ask if she wants me to take the call. she says yes. I pick up the phone*
Me: This is Doll, can I help you?
Caller: Yeah, hi, I was calling to get your prices on (some word I don't remember) fibers. Can you help me with a quote on that?
Me: Sir, You have called a funeral home (I'm speaking slowly at this point, figuring that a prank caller would have given up by now, and this guy must be hard of hearing or retarded).  Are you trying to reach *name of company that we get calls for all the time*?
Caller: Yes, isn't that you?
Me: No, sir, this is a FUNERAL HOME.
Caller: *laughs* Oh, I'm sorry to have bothered you.
Me: Oh, it's no bother, have a nice day!
Caller: Thanks, you too.

8. It is not easy to get lip prints from a dead lady.
There's a company that makes jewelry from thumb prints.  The stuff is awesome (and I think it's even cool to do for a non-dead person, like a baby or pet) and we sell quite a few of them.  This week however, we had a family that wanted something made from their mother's lip print.  We explained that it wouldn't come out looking like a kiss, as mom couldn't pucker any longer, and they were fine with that, so we spent the better part of an hour trying to get prints from this lady's mouth.  Oddly enough, the jewelry company had run into the same request before.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Completely personal

So, I’ve been living with my parents the last few weeks, and I found a two bedroom apartment for me and Clem that I can move into this week. The hubby has been really good to me, not seeming angry or vengeful, which has been a relief. He and I switch off with Clem, and even though I don’t like when she’s away, I don’t worry about her when she’s with her dad. He finally told his parents this weekend, and I don’t really know what they had to say, other than suggesting that we get a legal separation asap.

I am beginning to feel better about the situation, although I miss some of the friends that I feel like I’ve lost, and I don’t quite feel “at home” with my parents and sisters. I have a few friends that have been really great though, and even though I get a bit depressed sometimes, I feel like I most likely won’t die of all of it.

The owner for the funeral home has treated me really well, and offers (horrible but appreciated) advice to me all the time. Actually, I’ve come to realize that he, along with my manager, are great listeners, and neither one of them has made me feel judged in this whole thing, and I find myself being completely honest with both of them (which is quite a feat for me).

The rest of the office has also been nice, but less serious. They refuse to call me by my married name, and now are calling me by my maiden name, even though I have no intention of changing my name back any time soon, and the other day played me a version of Taps, complete with a military salute, for the “death of my marriage” as they so nicely put it. It sounds kinda shallow and cold, but I laughed with them and said thanks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

In which I dispense advice to a pro (and don't charge)

So, I personally (or the funeral home I work for) haven't had any good cases to blog about, but I did get a call from Jane asking for help (over the phone) on a case with stab wounds to the neck and face.  She, being a long-time embalmer, has worked on her share of reconstructions, and has always used waxes to cover things up and patch things over, but she wanted to try using a product that I use a lot (and that I've blogged about before) on accident cases called Easy Way (by Dodge, if you want to get some for your prep room), and she didnt know how to use it properly, so who did she call??? Yep, me.  I felt like such a smarty-pants! So, I explained to her how to mix the liquid and powder, and told her to watch the consistancy until it was kinda close to the waxes she is used to working with, and told her what to do once it was ready to use.  Anyway, she ended up calling me five more times once more to get advice, and I swear, it was the best ever.  My ego, HUGE that day.

I am thinking about updating about my personal life, as I recieved more visits when discussing my affair, but then I felt like I was whoring out my blog that is supposed to be for work, LoL. Maybe in a day or two...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Motorcycle escorts

I'm on a service right now, working with one of the part-time guys that i really like, actually, I try to schedule him on my services whenever possible, and we are on our way to the cemetery. He is driving me in the hearse, and the family is following behind, and the motorcycle escorts are leading us through downtown (I work in my city's downtown, and am IN LOVE with it) on our way out to the cemetery on the other side of town. We dont live in one of those towns that requires escorts, but we use them for most services, and it is quite helpful to have them around. see, they always open the church doors for us when we have the casket, and open the hearse when we are ready to load up, and they are great at helping haul the flowers to the car when we're getting everything set to go to the cemetery, not to mention the whole stopping traffic thing. And they are nice guys. The escort company (I almost said service, LOL) we use has probably 10 or so guys that ride for them on a regular basis, and some part-time guys that work when there are too many services for them to handle. anyway, just wanted to let you in on my love for the motorcycle guys.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


So, I've been thinking about stuff about myself that I would like to change and I have a little list:

1. Stop smoking.  Yeah, I look cool, but it's gross.
2. Stop drinking as much.  I don't think I really am out of control about it, but if I really want to quit smoking I should stop going to bars as much, where I have to smoke.
3. Get a tattoo.  I have a few already, but I would like another one, maybe some leaves and some words.
4. Read more.  I am a pretty avid reader, but my sister, B, is like a crazy reader girl, and even checks books out from the library.  I want to do that too.
5. Buy Dexter on DVD. All the seasons I can get my hands on.
6. Be more honest. I'm thinking this one will be the hardest, but it's worth a shot.
7. Embalm more (Jane is gonna love this one). I want to make more time for working with the bodies.  I thin part of my emotional stress level has to do with meeting a whole bunch of grieving families.  I need to calm down and work on the technical aspect of this job, instead of the emotional side of it.

So, those are it so far.

Also, here's my current love:

Monday, February 1, 2010

Manic Monday

Busiest. Day. Ever!!!

So, I was on call this weekend, and didn't end up having to go in the office once, which was nice because I had a long, emotionally draining time with the hubby.  I got six new cases, most of which were on Sunday, and the families all acted like they wanted to come in on Monday to make arrangements, and two of the cases were coroner's cases that wouldn't be released until Monday anyway, so we couldn't embalm them until then.

Anyway, I feel like I have been making arrangements ALL DAY, which I have.  My first appointment was at eleven, making arrangements for a 12 day old infant that apparently died of SIDS, but the ruling most likely won't be for months.  SIDS cases are hard to determine right away, it seems to be one of those cause of deaths that is kinda a catchall.  So, the mom and dad weren't really good buddies, and both of their parents came in to help, as well as friends of the family and the pastor.  They prayed throughout the whole thing, which I'm totally for, but I felt very awkward the whole time.  They picked a nice little casket, and the service is going to be at a church, which I'm glad for, as I don't know that our chapel would be big enough.  I gave them all my cell number so that they could reach me if they had questions (I figure two eighteen year olds might have a few questions) and sent them on their way.

The second family I met with was nice, they had a pre-arrangement on their dad who died, and the arrangement went smoothly.  The arrangements were being made by three of the sons, whom, within five minutes of the arrangement had been charmed by my loveliness and humor.  They hadn't been one of the calls that came in over the weekend, and they just walked in without an appointment (NOT the day to do that, but whatever), but luckily I had the time to meet with them since my manager ended up taking my other appointment, who had been running late.

Then I had a three o'clock, and they were strange.  They wanted a cremation for their dad, and asked every question in the book about every little thing.  It was two sons and a daughter of the deceased, and one of the sons was doing that look-at-me-a-little-too-long thing that was a bit creepy, but at the same time made me feel like I was overreacting and he was just weird, but not creepy.  But let me reiterate: they asked EVERY QUESTION IN THE BOOK!!! I even said to them that my mort sci teachers would be very proud of me if they were there listening.  they laughed, and I'm sure they have no idea that no one asks all those questions.

Anyway, there was only one case for me to get ready today, and he looked great, but when all was said and done we had six that needed to be embalmed today, none of which I embalmed, and I am sure to get an earful from Jane tomorrow about that.

ANd now I'm sitting on my sister's bed, having a vodka cranberry (all about the health), checking her farmville (is it possible to be addicted and NOT have my own facebook?), and posting, but grateful because my daughter is sleeping in the next room and not across town, and starting to get a little tired.