Page 1

FALL 2013

by Deana Marie Designs

e th n ! s i ion ke nt sa ve ep on Ke A C ad D Be NF e e ur t h pt a t Ca th EE o o ES B M dge CO Do


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FALL 2013 Volume 105 No. 4

FALL 2013

Quarterly Publication

Dedicated to Professional Progress in Funeral Service


Embalming Using Elevated Pressure and Lower Flow with Pulsation


Emaciation System and Guidelines

Bill Martin

Jack Adams, CFSP, MBIE

Why Do They Look So…Dead? 10 Shane A.S. Ritchie, CFSP Would You Hire Me? 14 Dennis Daulton The Cover Doanes Falls in Royalston, MA Picture by two of Dodge’s Customer Service Reps – Kyle Fiske and Chyle Crossley Editor Keith Dodge

The Top Ten Things I Have Learned in Funeral Service 21 Bill Werner The Crash 25 Duncan Norris Holding Hands 28 Joy Johnson

Assistant Editor Kristin Doucet

Ghosts in the Machine 30 Dale Bailey

Contributing Editors Bill Martin Jack Adams Shane Ritchie Dennis Daulton Bill Werner Duncan Norris Joy Johnson Dale Bailey Jerome Burke

Bread Cast Upon The Waters… 32 Jerome Burke

© 2013 The Dodge Company Printed in U.S.A.

Published by

The Dodge Company 9 Progress Road Billerica, MA 01821-5731 Phone: 1-978-600-2099 For Orders: 1-800-443-6343 Fax: 1-978-600-2333/ 1-800-443-4034

The opinions expressed by contributors to this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the publisher.

The Dodge Company (Canada) 1265 Fewster Drive, Mississauga Ontario, L4W 1A2 Phone: 1-905-625-0311 For Orders: 1-800-263-0862 Fax: 1-905-624-1109

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Website: E-mail:

Most articles in this magazine are available as reprints at our cost.


Fall 2013

Embalming Using Elevated Pressure and Lower Flow with Pulsation By Bill Martin

Drainage and distribution will most often be increased with elevated pressure and low flow with pulsation.

The Dodge Magazine

Before we talk about pressure, we must first understand what causes swelling during the injection of preservative chemical solutions. All bodies will accept a rate of flow that will allow even distribution of chemical without swelling. Whatever that rate is, one thing will always be true: none of them will assimilate chemical at the same rate of flow. If you think about that, you now know that a low rate of flow will give you the most even distribution of preservative chemical. If you consider that you cannot compress a liquid, you will understand that pushing a solution into a system at too high a rate of flow will cause the chemical to seek the area of least resistance and therefore cause tissue distention. Thus, a low rate of flow will always allow better results. It often seems reasonable to increase the rate of flow if distribution is not as thorough as we think it should be because we have been taught, erroneously, that increasing the pressure would cause swelling. Remember, you cannot compress a liquid so trying to increase vascular pressure by rate of flow will eventually, if not immediately, cause an embalming disaster. Over the years and even today embalmers will use a drain tube to increase vascular pressure by closing the drain tube. If your injector will not develop sufficient pressure to help distribution, this technique will help you, but only to a minimum level, as the solution cannot be compressed. You must not leave the tube closed too long. Most of us have used that technique to help with drainage and actually were able to help distribution somewhat if the procedure is done correctly. You are taking a big risk if you try to help distribution by closing drainage, especially if rate of flow is already too high. Drainage and distribution will most often be increased with elevated pressure and low flow with pulsation. Embalmers continue to question the use of pressure embalming. I think it is important to clear the air regarding this subject. I can say this with strong emphasis: pressure does not cause tissue swelling during embalming. Rate of flow is the one and only reason tissue will swell. Pressure, when set on your machine, cannot cause swelling

because swelling cannot occur until the rate of flow valve is opened. Simple enough. Even then, swelling will not occur unless the rate of flow is set higher than the body can assimilate the chemical solution. The chance of swelling is much greater at a lower pressure with the rate of flow set too high. Keeping in mind that we cannot compress a liquid no matter what the pressure is, it stands to reason that elevated pressure will move a low rate of flow through the system at a safer rate. This rate will also move clots and, in general, enhance drainage along with much better tissue profusion. Therefore, embalming will be efficient with much better tissue appearance and the remains will generally be much more recognizable by the family and friends. Bodies with overly firm tissue often will have distorted facial features. Another good reason for elevated pressure with low flow is when the person has been deceased for a length of time and when the remains have been refrigerated before we embalm. The body’s resistance to good distribution is much greater after approximately two to five days of refrigeration. After approximately five days, if the body is not frozen, it usually does not maintain such strong resistance to distribution of the embalming solution. By then the blood clotting is not as much a problem, the blood returns to a more fluid condition and, of course, settles out into the dependent areas of the body. During embalming, we hope to see some bleaching of the dependent parts of the body, but because of postmortem staining, clearing will not be complete. Elevated pressure with low rate of flow will always help clear some areas of blood accumulation that otherwise would not clear. After considering these observations, what is the definition of high and low pressure and moderate or what I call elevated pressure? It is safe to assume that most of us have been taught the danger of high (which usually means anything above 20 pounds) pressure. If we try to open our minds and accept the fact that rate of flow is the cause of tissue distention, it makes sense that high pressure cannot be defined to fall in any particular


range. Again, remember rate of flow will always be the reason for swelling because if pushed into a system too fast, swelling of the most vulnerable soft tissue will usually happen first, i.e. the eyes, lips, neck area, and most facial features. Pressure does not push chemical into any area fast. High rate of flow is the only setting that can cause swelling at any pressure setting. For the sake of discussion, I will suggest you consider specific numbers that will help you understand low, elevated, and high pressure. I consider any pressure setting that is below 40 psi to be low. I have used the term “elevated” to describe pressure settings that could be considered moderate. Those settings would be 40 lbs. up to 80 lbs. Again for the sake of discussion, high pressure would be 130 to 150 lbs. Whatever pressure setting you select, hold the rate of flow low to approximately 8 to 12 ozs per minute, until you establish good drainage. Then you may raise your flow if needed. I have found that I have the greatest amount of success when I always, always, always use pulsation. Depending on the condition of the body, about 5 to 6 ounces injected up into the head would usually be safe, with pulsation. Unfortunately, most embalming machines have a very low pressure range. Because of this problem, elevated pressure will usually be impossible to attain. If you are unable to move up to a machine that will allow more variable levels of pressure, you will be unable to maximize the effects of good chemical distribution and enhance drainage. I would strongly urge you to consult with your funeral home manager or owner and step up to the level of embalming that will increase the quality of your work by increasing your options for the types of bodies that we are faced with today and better serve your client families. I recently met with a customer who shared with me a situation he was involved with that required embalming of a body that was radically discolored and in advanced stages of decomposition. Areas of the deceased had been exposed to the elements which allowed greater decomposition and other areas were very dehydrated. The varied conditions of the tissue of this body required decisions that we usually do no face very often. Because of these conditions, the embalmer realized a stronger solution would be required to complete the embalming. Other considerations were that the body was to be shipped and the family wanted viewing. I am not sure if viewing was going to be available for the public, but the family was sure they wanted to see the body. The point here is that when he started the injection process he soon found that pressure below 100 lbs was not going to give him distribution good enough for thorough tissue profusion. He was able to maximize the pressure capability of his injector by going to 150 lbs which eventually gave him excellent tissue saturation at all points. He did need to use multiple injection points and was able to realize total distribution with total tissue profusion. The most interesting

part of all of his work was that the head was injected with over 100 lbs pressure without swelling. “No swelling?” I said. His response was, “I used a very low rate of flow with pulsation and waited for the results to reach the level of fixation that I wanted.” As we know, trauma, particularly head trauma, will allow tissue swelling always when using a high rate of flow. One incident of this nature I can recall was during an embalming demonstration/clinic in the prep room of a mortuary college facility. After opening comments regarding the use of all levels of pressure and specific levels of rate of flow, I was immediately challenged regarding the danger of swelling the face of the body we were using for demonstration. The body had a very long laceration caused by an auto accident. This cut started about the middle of the forehead and continued down the face over the nose down through both lips, to the cleft in the chin. The audience continued with comments, as you can probably imagine, challenging me about swelling this area, which seemed to them to be unavoidable. I then realized I would have to demonstrate even higher pressure than I probably would ever have used on this case. I remember that it was time to put up or shut up. The body was unautopsied. I injected up the head at 175 lbs of pressure with approximately 3 oz per minute. NO SWELLING and a very quiet audience. I know I have consistently mentioned that swelling is not caused by high pressure, and I want you to remember it is rate of flow that is the MAIN problem of embalming swelling. I was very fortunate to study many years under Don Sawyer, a man way ahead of the times, with an enormous knowledge of the art and science of embalming. He was my friend and my mentor and he taught me that embalming with controlled pressure and rate of flow, as well as always using pulsation, is the best technique to distribute chemical evenly to all bodily tissues. It also maximizes drainage and tissue saturation to create a natural, presentable embalming result for family and friends. I hope this information is helpful to those of you looking to improve the quality of your embalming. There is, without a doubt, much more to discuss, perhaps one on one. If anyone would feel comfortable discussing any of this information further, please feel free to call Dodge and they will contact me to arrange for us to talk at your convenience.

Elevated pressure with low rate of flow will always help clear some areas of blood accumulation that otherwise would not clear.

I remember that it was time to put up or shut up. I injected up the head at 175 lbs of pressure with approximately 3 oz per minute. NO SWELLING.

In addition to representing The Dodge Company in Washington, Northern Idaho, Western Montana, and Alaska, Bill has been a regular faculty member of the Dodge Institute’s Sunshine Seminars and has conducted numerous continuing education programs for state associations across the country, in Mexico and Canada.


Fall 2013


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Emaciation System and Guidelines

By Jack Adams, CFSP

Families don’t know about embalming or what results can be achieved unless we communicate to them information about the condition of the body and that our staff tries hard to do their very best every time. I know some conscientious funeral directors who are very successful because they believe in the value of embalming. We live in a time when the economy is down and people want to see the value of every dollar they spend for every service rendered. How can some funeral directors be building their business while others are showing substantial decreases? In the case of the successful funeral directors that I know, it’s all about the body. A well-embalmed, recognizable remains sets the tone and complements all the other personalized, good service gestures of the funeral. If you care enough to do your best with the body, that philosophy carries over to all the rest of your custom-made family services. A viewing of any kind will be a more pleasant experience for the family if their loved one is recognizable with a pleasant appearance. A severe emaciation case could be turned into an opportunity to show the family that you are not only communicating with them, but that your team tries very hard to do their best with such difficult cases. Emaciation or loss of weight can be moderate or extreme. Moderate weight loss can many times be treated by adding a humectant chemical to the solution to be injected and by doing some restorative feature building to important facial

areas that are now flat or dehydrated in appearance. To me, extreme emaciation means an individual who has lost nearly half their body weight or, for example, the individual who weighed 150 pounds and now weighs 80 to 100 pounds. People describe such individuals as being “skin and bones.” The face has lost all its identifying lines and markings, and bones are protruding that were never seen before. The eyes are so sunken that they are unable to close and a dried weather line is evident across the eye center. The effects of the disease has distorted the appearance of the individual and rendered them unrecognizable. Photographs are helpful with all cases, especially for re-forming the mouth and identifiable features and lines of the face such as the nasolabial folds. Once you’ve established the expectations of the family regarding the emaciation case, you can follow a system. EMACIATION SYSTEM • Communicate with the family about the deceased’s overall condition, their weight loss, the time frame of the weight loss, and their expectations regarding viewing. Would they like to be able to view for identification or do they really want to say goodbye to the loved one that they remember, an older, perhaps, but a healthy looking grandma? If they would prefer to have grandma resemble that picture of a healthy grandma, you can at least say you will do your best to make that happen. You have


Fall 2013

To me, extreme emaciation means an individual who has lost nearly half their body weight. People describe such individuals as being “skin and bones.” The face has lost all its identifying lines and markings, and bones are protruding.

• The mouth and cheeks can initially be overfilled in the cheek area or corners of the mouth using Poze. This overfill can be manually forced under the sunken protruding cheek bones, now making it possible to form some lines and create a foundation for a normal appearance.

• •

just received a personal challenge that could be turned into a great opportunity. You accept the challenge without guarantees, but be sure to ask for photos. Just by trying, you’re telling your family that you really care and you’re showing them that they made a good choice of funeral homes because your team tries harder. Evaluate the body condition. Most likely, there have been drugs or drug therapy involved that will make preservation difficult to achieve. How severe is the emaciation? What is the condition of tissue? Is it spongy? If so, it could be difficult to adequately preserve. Set the features. Take special care with the eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth, and nasolabial folds. Setting features while treating the emaciated case is difficult and even more care than usual should be taken. You can’t just close a mouth and begin embalming such a case because in the end you often need to fill out or raise a cheek over an inch, and injecting enough Feature Builder to accomplish this would just stretch the skin and expand it, creating a similar appearance to a Botox overload. Even if you were able to restore the size of the face back to near normal, all the natural lines would be lost due to the skin being stretched. It would be similar to blowing up a balloon, leaving you with a face that didn’t at all resemble the living person. Form the upper lids. If the eyes are severely sunken, normal closure isn’t practical before embalming. The severely emaciated body will show a weather line on the eyelid because most likely the person was unable to close their eyes prior to death because they were so severely sunken. A temporary eye closure can be created by placing cotton covered with some Kalip Stay Cream under the upper eyelids. This gives a natural, raised form to the upper lid. The remaining eye restoration can be done following the arterial injection. If the nose is flattened or distorted, cotton or Inr-Seel can be placed in the nostrils to fill out the wings to restore a more natural shape. The mouth closure: Because of weight loss, I like to think of the mouth closure as also being temporary. This important mouth and cheek zone shouldn’t be embalmed in the “skin and bones” condition. If it is, it will probably be impossible to achieve a recognizable condition. The mouth and cheeks can initially be overfilled in the cheek area or corners of the mouth using Poze. This overfill can be manually forced under the sunken protruding cheek bones, now making it possible to form

some lines and create a foundation for a normal appearance. Without taking this step, one would need to use Feature Builder to raise the cheek area as much as 1 ½ inches. • The head embalming solution: Because we are dealing with a “skin and bones” appearance, it is important to naturally plump up the tissue during the arterial injection. I would recommend a ½ gallon solution consisting of 8 oz. of Metasyn Accelerated, 8 oz. of Metaflow, 8 oz. of Rectifiant, 20 oz. of Restorative, and 20 oz. of warm water. This ½ gallon solution would be appropriate for the extreme emaciation case. Usually injecting a quart per each side of the head is adequate. Inject using pulsation starting with a rate of flow of 3 to 5 ounces per minute. • Once you see that the chemical is distributing well, slowly increase the rate of flow (8 to 10 ounces per minute) to maintain an even plumping effect. This procedure can sometimes plump or evenly swell facial tissues ¼ inch to ½ inch. The creation of this ‘buffer zone’ is very important for restoring a natural appearance to the “skin and bones” case where sometimes the eyes are sunken as much as two inches. With the use of this type of solution for the head, when feature building this case, you will be able to raise the tissue easily when injecting Feature Builder naturally without the unnatural stretched out look. The unnatural stretched out look is the reason that you hear some embalmers say, “You can only raise the tissue so much.” This is true if you inject these cases with a standard solution. The bulking up of the facial tissue allows us to use the Feature Builder to accurately restore the identity that has left through disease process. This is the most important procedure in order to establish a good foundation for a successful extreme emaciation restoration. • Following the injection, separate the connective tissue of the eyelids and raise the eye to proper levels using Inr-Seel or cotton covered with Kalip Stay Cream. All emaciated cases, especially the severe ones, demand good communication with the family. What are their expectations? Sometimes we act on our own expectations or have little communication with the family because their wishes may force us out of our comfort zone. These severe cases are now common, but raising our skill levels and working a little out of the box are the sure ways to meet these challenges. If you follow the system, you will at least have given the family a chance to say goodbye to a loved one they recognize rather than having a closed casket.

Jack is Dodge’s busiest embalming educator and lecturer. Along with working for Dodge as a sales representative in northern Illinois, he is an Embalming Lab Instructor at Worsham College. Jack Adams, CFSP, MBIE

The Dodge Magazine

More about emaciation and eye restoration can be found in the following Dodge Magazine articles: “The Eyes Have It”; January 2009 “Restoring Emaciated Remains: Parts 1-7”; March 1998 – June 1999


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Why Do They Look So…Dead? By Shane A.S. Ritchie, CFSP

I recently made the three hour trek to attend the visitation and funeral for my wife’s aunt. Her name was June. The funeral home the family had chosen was an old, well-established business in their hometown. The owner was a nice old fellow, a little rough around the edges, a fourth generation funeral director who personally took care of nearly every one of the 100 or so cases that came through his doors each year. Several years ago when my wife and I lived in the area, I had done a few trade calls for him and found him to be very old school in his approach to embalming and funeral directing in general. “Never turn that machine to more than 5 pounds of pressure. The human heart only puts out The Dodge Magazine

about 5 pounds and any more than that will swell the face,” was one of his mantras. “Don’t use more than 8 oz. of fluid to a gallon of water or you’ll burn them up,” was another. “One bottle of cavity fluid is plenty. The gas from the fluid will take care of everything,” was one of his classics. And his ode to cosmetology, “They look good enough. Why, they’re dead. People don’t expect them to look like they’re gonna get up and join the party!” Of course, my experiments and experience had taught me long ago that this outdated way of thinking had been the cause of numerous embalming failures, disappointed families, and is no longer considered


proper protocol, but I knew I could never change his mind. His “standards” were established in his mind and to him were gospel. This introduction sets the stage for what followed. When I arrived at the funeral home, June’s son greeted me at the door. I offered my condolences and we began to talk. He asked me to go to the chapel and take a look at his mother and offer my opinion. As I approached the casket I could immediately identify my old funeral director friend’s handy-work. Having known his modus operandi I knew that his cosmetic effort consisted of a heavy application of his one-size-fits-all color of mortuary foundation, some lipstick that also doubles as rouge, and a final application of powder. “Why does she look so….dead?” her son asked. At that moment a light bulb went off in my head. How many other embalmers follow poor, outdated techniques and how many families have paid good money to be able to view their loved one for the last time only to ask themselves this same question? Could this be just one more reason that people have begun to forego viewing and opting for closed caskets or direct dispositions? While I couldn’t prove the point, I felt certain that it was. After a brief discussion about the appearance of his mother, I dismissed myself and joined my wife for the rest of the evening, all the while thinking about what had just transpired. After speaking with many people about their viewing experiences, I am quite convinced that this same scene plays out day after day at funeral homes across the country. Why is this? The answer, in my opinion, is twofold: poor and/or outdated embalming skills and poor and/or outdated cosmetic skills. The foundation of any viewing is proper embalming. A poorly embalmed body is not only a liability issue waiting to happen, but is also very difficult to properly cosmetize. One reading of my old time embalmer friend’s case protocol should explain the embalming problem relating to June. I suspect that her body was under-embalmed and it was obvious that no fluid dye was used. Add to this his “standard” cosmetic application and it is no wonder that her son was disappointed with her appearance. This article will concentrate on the cosmetic side of the viewing equation. While I have stated that good embalming is the foundation for good cosmetic application, I will leave most of the details for another article. This article will assume that good embalming has taken place and a good quality fluid dye, like Dodge Icterine, was used in the mixture and that the features have been properly set. One to two ounces of dye per gallon in the fluid mixture helps to restore some of the normal color lost due to the lack of blood circulation and creates a much more natural appearance as a foundation for cosmetic application. Using the cosmetic application that the old funeral director used on June as an example, I will attempt to give some tips on what could have been done to improve her appearance. The first thing that I noticed when I viewed

June’s face was the lack of any variegation in her complexion. The funeral director had applied a fairly thick coat of cosmetic that completely obliterated any subtle variation in color that is always present in human skin. This alone was a major reason she looked so artificial….so dead. The second problem was the complete lack of any shadows on the face. When viewing any living face, we see the appearance through the prism of light and shadow that is apparent at the time. Some areas appear lighter while others appear darker. This gives the face depth and dimensionality. Without these shadows and highlights, the face takes on a mannequin-like appearance. These two factors were the major cause of her son’s unhappiness with June’s appearance. So how can this situation be corrected? The first consideration is the choice of cosmetic base that is to be used. Except in cases of trauma and/ or discoloration, an opaque foundation is never called for. In the past few years I have adopted the use of airbrush cosmetics and have never looked back, although the techniques I describe apply equally to traditional cosmetic application. Airbrush foundation goes on so smoothly and perfectly with a natural look that is difficult to achieve with any other method, dries almost instantly, and doesn’t need powder. It can be applied lightly in normal cases to allow the natural markings and variegation of the complexion to show through or more heavily to cover discoloration, all without looking caked on. Of course, if a heavier application is called for, variegation needs to be accomplished through cosmetic means to recreate the subtle variations in the color of the skin. A single color application will tend to create the “mannequin” look we are trying to avoid. After the foundation has been applied, a technique that I have used quite successfully to recreate the natural variants in skin color is to dip a toothbrush in a bit of Dodge Perma Cosmetic (or any alcohol-based cosmetic) and “riffle” through the bristles with a finger or thumb to impart an extremely fine color pixilation onto areas of the face. With a bit of practice, this method can create very natural color variegation that is difficult to achieve any other way. The use of clear, recent photos can help when choosing a foundation and variegation colors. Secondly, shadowing is very important. We are most used to seeing people in a standing position where light creates natural shadows on areas like just below the supraorbital area and the upper eyelids, the septum, the nostrils, and under nose area (philtrum), along the lower border of the jawline, under the chin (submental sulcus), the hollow below the lower lip (mentolabial sulcus), the temporal area, and possibly the nasolabial folds. Because we are not used to seeing someone lying on their back, as they are in the casket, and because the light on the face will be coming from different angles than we are accustomed to, the natural looking shadows that we are used to seeing are lost. I believe that the lack of shadows is the biggest


In the past few years I have adopted the use of airbrush cosmetics and have never looked back. Airbrush foundation goes on so smoothly and perfectly with a natural look that is difficult to achieve with any other method.

I believe that the lack of shadows is the biggest reason that the face of the deceased often looks so unnatural.

Fall 2013


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reason that the face of the deceased often looks so unnatural. Therefore, the second area we must address is shadowing on the face through the subtle use of a darker shade of airbrush cosmetic such as a dark brown or chocolate brown, to recreate the look of the natural shadows that we would see when looking at a person’s face under normal conditions. Again, the use of clear, recent photos can be very valuable in determining natural shadow areas. It takes practice to become proficient at shadowing but the results are more than worth the effort. With the airbrush, I suggest practicing by first shadowing the concha, scapha, fossa and external auditory meatus of the ear to get a feel for the amount needed and to gain a feel for control of the airbrush. I generally reduce the air pressure when shadowing but some excellent cosmeticians I know apply foundation and shadows at the same pressure setting. If you find that you have made the shadows too dark, simply overspray with a bit of your foundation color to lighten until you reach the desired results. Again experimentation and practice will lead to good results. The next step is to highlight the warm areas of the face with a color that is somewhat redder than your foundation. Some people have very reddish or ruddy areas while others have just slightly redder or pinker color variations. Using a good photo as your guide, lightly apply the highlight color to the warm areas of the face: the cheekbones (it is important to note that often with age, the highlight or warm colors of the cheeks will tend to recede below the cheekbone area. This is especially important when cosmetizing men, as they normally do not “blush” their cheekbones as women do), the bridge and tip of the nose, the tip of the chin, above the eye orbits on the forehead, the helix and lobe of the ear. The airbrush, a blush brush, or the “toothbrush technique” can be used for this step. Be sure to use those recent photographs for reference. When it comes to lips, the first thing to check for (after proper mouth closure) is natural roundness. Embalming sometimes causes the lips to dehydrate slightly and this can cause them to “deflate” or flatten, which looks very unnatural. A small amount of Dodge Feature Builder injected into the lips and palpated into shape can correct this. Don’t overdo it, however, or you will end up with “duck-lips” which look even worse. Once you are satisfied with the curve of the lips, carefully glue them into place. I really like the new Tech-Bond Blue adhesive and the Tech-Bond Activator that Dodge now offers for lips and eyes. I still use the tried and true brush method for applying cosmetic to lips. I think this is more precise and easier to control than the airbrush for this application. Lip cosmetics for women are generally easy. The family will often suggest a lip color or bring in a favorite lipstick of the deceased. If not, it is generally just a matter of choosing a shade that goes well with the clothing and overall look of the deceased. Lip color for men can be a different matter. On male lips I apply the foundation shade sparingly as a base then work in some natural looking

color variegation, a bit of the warm highlight color and a touch of medium brown often works well. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all male lip color. Lip color varies from person to person. Still have those photos handy? Good, use them. I prefer to brush vertically when adjusting lip color on men in an attempt to recreate the tiny natural lines and wrinkles of the lips. Don’t leave a sharp demarcation at the edge where the mucus membranes join the integumentary lips. I also lightly powder men’s lips after the cosmetic application to dull the shine a bit. I finish the cosmetic application on both men and women by taking a dark gray or dark brown eyebrow pencil and very slightly touching it along the edge of the upper eyelid where the lash enters the lid. This should not be done to the point of becoming eyeliner, but just enough to make the eyes stand out. The cosmetic penciling should not be noticeable in its own right. Use an eyelash brush to remove any cosmetic and shape the lashes. If a woman used eyebrow pencil to draw or define her eyebrows, you should do that also. Complete the cosmetic application with a light mist of nonshiny hairspray over the face. This gently seals the cosmetic against accidental smudges and adds just enough sheen to look very natural. A final comment about lighting is appropriate here. I advise applying cosmetics in the same lighting conditions under which the body will be viewed. Some embalmers have become very adept at compensating for various lighting conditions but in most cases, cosmetizing under the fluorescent lights of the prep room and then moving the body to the subdued lighting of the chapel can wreak havoc on the appearance of your cosmetics. If you must cosmetize under different lighting than which the body will be viewed, such as at a church, I advise taking your airbrush kit and lip cosmetics along so that you can make last minute corrections as required. Good cosmetic application can mean the difference between a peaceful, beautiful memory picture and one that looks so…..dead. Make it a habit to study living faces and notice the variations in skin color, texture, shadows, and highlights. I believe that every embalmer can improve their skills through practice and a willingness to try new techniques. The future of our profession depends on demonstrating the value of viewing, not only for psychological benefit but also for the money spent on embalming and cosmetology. With the rise in direct disposition and more and more people questioning the need for visitations and viewing, good enough is just not good enough anymore.

If you must cosmetize under different lighting than which the body will be viewed, such as at a church, I advise taking your airbrush kit and lip cosmetics along so that you can make last minute corrections as required.

Shane A.S. Ritchie, CFSP, is the LicenseeIn-Charge and Location Manager at Beard Mortuary in Huntington, WV. He may be reached at shane.ritchie@carriageservices. com.


Fall 2013

Would You Hire Me? By Dennis Daulton

I had hoped he wouldn’t ask me that question. But ask he did. Several years ago, my colleague Fran Murphy and I were asked to speak before a mortuary college embalming class. We arrived with our projector and laptop in hand, eager and pleased to present a PowerPoint program to aspiring funeral directors and embalmers. Having been informed that several in the class had never seen the inside of an embalming room, we were prepared to show some rather basic information. Not the graphic material, of which we have plenty. Wearing dress slacks, white shirt and tie, and The Dodge Magazine

shined shoes, I began by saying, “You are where we were. And we are here to help you.” Trying our best to focus on content, we were shocked to observe several students dripping with tattoos, a few with unnaturally colored hair, and others with facial and body piercing. Some had all three. I learned long ago that it is unchristian, unfair, unkind, and just plain wrong to judge an individual on their appearance alone. But I wondered how I would react if I had called a funeral home, because of a family death, and was greeted by a person who looked like some of those before us now.


own the place.” He pointed to his shirt and said with a smile, “I haven’t been wearing a tie lately.” We both laughed. He just wasn’t feeling chipper enough to don one of his nice ties. My heart sank as I tried in vain to return the smile. It was then that I painfully realized that his time with us was coming to an end. I trust he thought the same. It pains me still, these many years later, to recall that moment. But at least he showed up. He and I were a part of that dwindling crowd who wore a tie in an office. He always looked so handsome in a suit and tie, and he always had such a presence. I miss Arnold. Everyone who knew Arnold “Jake” Dodge misses him, too. He was truly one of a kind. In the May 10, 2013 edition of The Week Magazine, it mentions an article published in USA Today written by Paul Davidson. Mr. Davidson states that human resource professionals report that college grads need some pointers on office etiquette. He pointed out that in job interviews some take phone calls, text, use slang, and dress inappropriately. What a great way to get hired! The article went on to explain, according to the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of PA, that most that are hired are not professional during their first year on the job. Will they ever be? Many years ago I received a phone call from a family I knew very well. Because the death at their home was unexpected, they explained that the medical examiner was on his way to make the pronouncement. They requested that I come along without delay. I did. The EMT’s had come and gone, and a police officer remained at the scene. As we stood in their living room, in front of a large picture window, the medical examiner could be seen arriving. Not knowing who he was, they observed a bearded man wearing sandals, sporting long hair, getting out of his dated, dented, and unwashed pickup truck with a stethoscope hanging around his neck. One family member looked at me and said, “Who the hell is that?!!” Since these folks were my friends, I asked that they cut him some slack. I added that he was a good man, and a good doctor. “You’ll be fine,” I assured them. They ended up liking him, but first impressions caused much concern for this family at a very difficult time. On a warm summer evening I was called to a home to make funeral arrangements. A family member had died earlier in the day at a local hospital and I had already done the embalming. I opted to ride my bicycle along the coastline to their residence on this beautiful moonlit August night. Upon arrival I hid my bike in the bushes next to their house, grabbed my arrangement pad and rang the doorbell. At the conclusion of the arrangements, several members of the family politely showed me to the door…and continued to follow me out onto their front walkway. I became very nervous as one family member looked up and down the street and asked, “Dennis, where is your car?” I wanted to say that it was probably stolen, but paused and said,

The question I feared I would get, “Would you hire me?” was asked, and the student was looking straight at me. I paused and said I thought he was a handsome young man, but that he would have a better chance of employment if he dressed appropriately, had a haircut, covered his tattoos, and removed the metal from his face. I had to be honest. He seemed to accept my comments. What I didn’t say was that a perspective, prudent employer would secure a credit report, a criminal background check, and a copy of his driving record. His on-line social networking would also be scrutinized. Our son, Daryl, is a captain for a commercial airline. He is also one of their flight instructors. Following college and after completing his necessary flight hours, he applied for employment with the airlines. He called his mother and me the night before an interview. We were supportive, knowing that he might be a bit nervous. I told him to put on his nice blue suit, white shirt, red tie, and to shine his shoes. But he already knew that. We also told him he’d be fine. What else could one say to be supportive to one’s child? He called us when it was over and explained that everyone else, all fourteen of them, dressed nearly the same. He further explained that one had flown in the military, and the father of another worked for this particular airline. In other words, he thought his chances were quite slim on being hired that day. The applicants were initially told that only two would be chosen. He was one of them. After all the interviews were completed, he and the other individual hired were called back in before the three member panel. They were then asked why they thought they were selected over the other twelve candidates. The panel’s answer was, “All of you appeared to be equally qualified, but we looked at you two and asked ourselves if we wanted to be next to you in the cockpit all day.” This was an honest and candid assessment which says volumes about their concern for the welfare of their employees, and how they wanted their company to be perceived by the public. Arnold “Jake” Dodge, former president and sales manager of The Dodge Company, died on June 17, 2002 after a brief illness. On one of his last days at the office, I walked into his office to ask a question. His door was always open and he never made one feel as if they were intruding. He treated everyone alike, and with the utmost respect, regardless of their position in the company. He always insisted on holding the door for others, and he never would accept a reserved parking place at the office. “I can park where there is any empty space,” I heard him politely say to someone after he was asked why he didn’t have a reserved parking spot. Seated at his desk he looked up at me and said, “Dennis, I’ve been avoiding you these last few days.” I replied, “Why would you do that? You


Trying our best to focus on content, we were shocked to observe several students dripping with tattoos, a few with unnaturally colored hair, and others with facial and body piercing. Some had all three.

Fall 2013

My heart sank as I tried in vain to return the smile. It was then that I painfully realized that his time with us was coming to an end. I trust he thought the same. It pains me still, these many years later, to recall that moment.

our head upon a comfortable pillow at the end of our days. Or who will funnel our cremated remains into an urn. Choose (hire) wisely. Several of us can be thankful there were those who gave us a chance early on, knowing that we could become what we needed to be. Fortunately, they saw beyond appearances. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to thank those who gave you that chance, including colleagues that have helped along the way, you might consider doing that before you wish you had. You need to say it. They need to hear it. Thankfully, I’ve done just that to several long before they left us. And long before I gently placed their head upon a comfortable pillow. Now I have no regrets. The test of time is the only way I know of which will reveal a kind heart. Along with the ability to do the job, possessing a kind heart is critical in serving those who are in pain and in need, and for the future success of our honorable profession. To paraphrase American poet and author, Maya Angelou: People will forget how we looked and how we dressed, but they will never forget how we made them feel. Our skills and our compassion can help heal a broken heart.

“It’s in the bushes. I rode my bike.” They laughed. I didn’t. The funeral went well, but the next time they had a death they did not call our funeral home. Perhaps they thought that the funeral director should have been more professional than to ride his bicycle to their home…and hide it in the bushes. Only they know for sure. I laugh at this now, but it wasn’t very funny at the time. Most of us realize that an individual’s appearance doesn’t always tell the whole story. Regarding attire, it might be your firm’s policy, or the code of behavior in your locale to dress a certain way on removals and making arrangements, but it might be totally out of place in another. Some have found that wearing a suit jacket during the arrangements can be intimidating to some families since many don’t own a suit. First impressions in our profession, or any profession, undoubtedly will predict future success. Families look at us and wonder if we should be given the solemn respectful duty of caring for their loved one…or to be the one to fly the plane. I always glance at the pilot and first officer when I board a plane, just as families do at us when we step over their threshold. The first impressions we render must be comforting and reassuring to a family; just as they should be to airline passengers. I recall the days when all mail carriers wore their USPS uniform. Now we may not recognize who is walking up our front steps. Whether it is a uniformed postal employee, a doorman at a fine hotel, a professional bus driver, a pilot, or a funeral director, appearance lends credibility to each respective profession. Should we have stopped wearing our striped funeral pants? Some believe this may be one factor which has further diminished the dignity and ceremonial aspect of funeral service. A sign in the employee changing area of a funeral home I call on as their Dodge rep reads: “You are what you appear to others. 1. Haircut. 2. Shine Shoes. 3. Shave. 4. Clean Clothes. 5. Fresh Aroma. Look sharp! Feel sharp! Be Sharp!”* When one does not care, or doesn’t know enough to care, about their appearance, then their appearance just might indicate to others that they don’t care about their profession. Would you want to be served and cared for by someone who wasn’t passionate about their profession? Appearances might be what gains employment, and also how those whom we serve perceive us. But it is never a true assessment of one’s character, abilities, future skills, and dedication to the profession. Those whom we critique and challenge, mold and mentor, just might be those who will lay

*Sign observed in an employee changing area at Morse-Bayliss Funeral Home, Lowell, Massachusetts. “Look Sharp. Feel Sharp. Be Sharp.” was the old advertising slogan of Gillette blades, spoken by Sharpie the Parrot.

In Memory Of Arnold J. “Jake” Dodge Late President and Sales Manager of The Dodge Company, Inc. U. S. Army – WW II May 15, 1920 – June 17, 2002

Dennis divides his time working in his Dodge sales territory in northeastern Massachusetts, and being in the office manning the technical support line, along with helping out with customer service. Dennis Daulton The Dodge Magazine


Join us for the

2014 Dodge Sunshine Seminar in Maui, Hawaii

Royal Lahaina Resort

February 3-7, 2014 (No classes on Wednesday, 2/5)

We’ll once again be returning to the Royal Lahaina Resort. The Royal Lahaina Resort is set on 27 acres of tropical gardens and lawns, along a half-mile of the best and most exclusive stretch of Kaanapali Beach. It offers a spectacular oceanfront location and traditional Hawaiian ambience. A note for those of you planning to join us in Maui…All programs will be of a technical nature. Many of the programs will still be of interest to those of you who have always attended the Managerial Seminars, but the focus will be on embalming. There are far more programs available for managerial topics than technical, so we’ll focus on what we’re better at. The entire brochure, including a schedule, topics, Hertz car rental information, etc. can be downloaded from the Seminars page at Previous Hawaii Seminar/Luau Candid Snapshots

Questions? Email us at: or Call 800-443-6343—Ask for Adrienn, Kristin or Debbie


œ­Š—Š’Š“šŠÂŽÂŁÂœÂĄÂĽ 2780 Kekaa Drive, Lahaina Maui, Hawaii 96761

*Cutoff Date for Group Rate is Friday, January 3, 2014* Reservations can be made by calling the hotel’s Central Reservations Department, online, or by using the “Reservation Request Form for Group�.

Telephone: (808) 661-3611 Fax: (808) 661-6150 Toll Free Reservations: (800) 280-8155 or (800) 447-6925 To make reservations online: Mention the Dodge Company Group or use our Group Number 10P2EX when making reservations.

Kaanapali Ocean Inn ~ $140/night Rates do not include taxes and fees.

Garden Cottage Room ~ $175/night Run of the House Lahaina Kai Tower ~ $195/night Ocean Front Cottage Room ~ $275/night Ocean Front Lahaina Kai Tower ~ $375/night Please see the “Reservation Request Form for Group� for hotel policies which can be found on the Seminars link at


Enjoy watching the Royal Lahaina Luau performers dance to the traditional Hawaiian, Tahitian and Samoan music.

We’ve reserved a section at the Royal Lahaina Luau on Tuesday evening for anyone who is interested. “Gates� open at 5:15pm and the Luau runs until approximately 8:00pm. See registration form for sign-up and pricing.

AIRPORT Kapalua Airport (JHM) is approx. 3 miles from the Royal Lahaina.

Kahului Airport (OGG) is approx. 30 miles from the Royal Lahaina.


Continuing education credits for licensed funeral directors will be available, pending individual state approvals. —‡–‘Š‹‰Šˆ‡‡Ď?‹Ž‹Â?‰”‡“—‹”‡Â?‡Â?–•™‡Â?‘Ž‘Â?‰‡”ƒ’’Ž›ˆ‘”…”‡†‹–•ˆ”‘Â?Virginia. We’ll be applying for the following credits each day: Monday - 6, Tuesday - 4, Thursday - 6, Friday - 4 4XHVWLRQV"(PDLOXVDWVHPLQDUV#GRGJHFRFRPRU &DOOÂł$VNIRU$GULHQQ.ULVWLQRU'HEELH










A Continental Breakfast will be served Mon., Tues., Thurs., & Fri. for seminar attendees.

7:00-8:00am 8:00-9:00am


Vernie Fountain

Karl Wenzel

Jack Adams

Karl Wenzel


Seeing is Believing

Turning Challenges Into Opportunities

Shipping Remains

Jack Adams

Matt & Kathy Hall

Vernie Fountain Matt & Kathy Hall 7REHDQQRXQFHG

10:30-11:30am Vernie Fountain 7REHDQQRXQFHG

Cultural Challenges of Disaster Deployment

Turning Challenges Into Opportunities FRQWLQXHG

The Reality of Disaster Deployment

Kim Collison

Steven Labrash

Jack Adams

As the World Turns‌

Long-Term Embalming ~

This is Why

An Infectious Disease Update


Lunch for seminar attendees


Steven Labrash Will Plastination Play a Roll in Funeral Services of the Future?

Larry Stuart, Jr.


for seminar attendees

Tom Buist

Larry Stuart, Jr.

What Would

The Science Behind Cremation, Part 2

Tom Buist What Worked, What Didn’t?



Safety Tips for the Prep Room

You Do?


Tom Buist


We Embalm

The Story of Claire

Kim & Tim Collison

The Science Behind Cremation, Part 1


by Air

Prep Room Essentials


Jack Adams This is Why We Embalm FRQWLQXHG

2014 Registration Form 

Early bird registration deadline 1/3/2014

1st Registrant: ______________________________________Nickname for Badge: _________________________ FD/Emb. Lic. # & State: __________________________Email Address: ___________________________________ 2nd Registrant: _____________________________________Nickname for Badge: _________________________ FD/Emb. Lic. # & State: __________________________ Email Address: __________________________________

Firm: Address: City:



Zip/Postal Code:

Fax: Check days attending

Reg. Fee Before 1/3/2014

Reg. Fee After 1/3/2014

Monday, 2/3




= $_______

Tuesday, 2/4




= $_______

Thursday, 2/6




= $_______

Friday, 2/7




= $_______

All 4 Days




= $_______

Registration Cancellation Policy

1st Registrant

If cancellation is made on or before January 27, 2014, you will be refunded the full registration fee. After January 27, 2014 a $100 cancellation fee will apply. Cancellations must be made in writing via mail, fax, or email to the addresses listed below.


2nd Registrant Monday, 2/3




= $_______

Ƒ Check

Tuesday, 2/4




= $_______

Thursday, 2/6


U.S. dollars, please. Made payable to 7KH'RGJH,QVWLWXWH



= $_______

Charge to my:

Friday, 2/7




= $_______

All 4 Days




= $_______

Ƒ MasterCard Ƒ Visa Ƒ American Express Ƒ Discover

Luau Tuesday, 2/4


Adult (12 & over) Children 11 & under w/paying adult

CC Number:_____________________________ Exp. Date: ___________Security Code: _______



= $_______

(Security Code for Visa, MC, & Discover is 3 digits on the back of the card; AMEX is four digits on the front of card)




Zip Code for BILLING ADDRESS of credit card:__________________________________

Total Enclosed: =$_____ Name on Card:___________________________

Mail or fax completed registration form and payment to address listed at bottom of this page.


The Dodge Institute For Advanced Mortuary Studies 9 Progress Rd, Billerica, MA 01821 Phone: (800) 443-6343 / (978) 600-2099 ~ Fax: 978-600-2331 (secure accounting fax line) VHPLQDUV#GRGJHFRFRPƁZZZGRGJHFRFRP

The Top Ten Things I Have Learned in Funeral Service By Bill Werner

Recently I had the honor and privilege to be the guest speaker for the 17th annual FINE Mortuary College graduation in Norwood, MA. I have taught at the college for the past 16 years and have been asked in the past to do this but always refused since I did not think I had enough experience to share with the graduates. Well, now I have been licensed for over 16 years; deployed to Okinawa and Philippines with the Army back in 2001 for two years; did a six month tour at the Dover Port Mortuary; worked at a few different funeral homes; experienced a variety of cases, families, and funerals; and now work for the Dodge Company; so I felt I was ready. The following is an excerpt from the speech I gave and I entitled, “The Top 10 Things I Have Learned in Funeral Service over My 15 plus Years of Service to the Trade”. • Pursue higher education. Go out and get your bachelor’s degree if you can, or at a minimum your Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) designation. You never know what doors it will open. If you’re in line for a job and someone has an associate’s and you have your bachelor’s degree or CFSP there is a good chance you will get it. If you have a bachelor’s degree you can teach at a Mortuary College and this is a nice part-time job for a funeral director. You never know what door will open and when, but you always want to be ready. My favorite saying is, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness.” Well, that is true.


If you are prepared and that opportunity comes along …. you can go for it and get it. When meeting with families try to put yourself in their shoes. It is very easy to forget what they are going through. Remember this might be the first time they are experiencing a death, or a tragic incident; you have to take yourself out of that funeral director role and share their experience. Walking into a selection room is no big deal for us, but to them it can be breathtaking and traumatic. Do it right, you only get once chance. One of my favorites is when you arrive at a crime scene and see all of the first responders (EMS, Fire, Police) are all standing outside and you can see fire department fans in the doorway, and you know that you are in for a DOOZY and HOPE that you or the apprentice packed the disaster kit with a POUCH because you will be there for a LONG time. Never burn a bridge. I cannot tell you how many funeral directors I run into that worked at this place, that place, this place, that place and are now working back at their original place all over again. It happens time and time again. If you leave on a good note, you always have an opportunity to return. If you burn the bridge, funeral directing is a small world, word gets around, and people talk …. always try to leave on a good note. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. I

When meeting with families try to put yourself in their shoes. It is very easy to forget what they are going through.

Fall 2013

Never burn a bridge. I cannot tell you how many funeral directors I run into that worked at this place, that place, this place, that place and are now working back at their original place.

I visit over 325 funeral homes in my territory. If you don’t think I have some kind of idea of what is going on out there, or my fellow reps do, then you are sadly mistaken. We are a great resource.

The Dodge Magazine

like to tell this story. When I was a young kid growing up I went to Catholic school. Now the nuns used to go around and ask who was an altar boy to see who could leave class to go help on a funeral at the church next door and this meant getting out of class for at LEAST an hour!! Now at the time I wasn’t a trained altar boy, but God knows I had been to Mass many times and watched these guys, so I figured I would raise my hand and give it a try. I took a risk….and I still remember my first funeral was a little scary but after the first one I had it figured out and in no time I was an expert and even working daily masses before school which was one of the things that led to my calling and interest in funeral service. Many times since I have been faced with new challenges, whether it be my first embalming, my first autopsy case, or meeting with a family for the first time. Do not be afraid to dive in and figure things out as you go, this can sometimes be the best way to learn a new skill. I have excused myself from one or two meetings with families in the past to get my head on straight….it is okay to fear new things, just do not be afraid to try them. Or as they say.…“Fake it till you make it.” • Never listen to your mother and/or spouse (and I say this tongue in cheek). When I was eleven I told my parents I wanted to be a funeral director and they told me I could never break into the business because they were ALL family businesses and there was no way to get ahead. So I listened and tabled my dreams. Seven years later, I again wanted to do it but again was talked out of it. Finally, at 27 and in middle management in healthcare, realizing I still hadn’t pursued my dream…I went for it. My life changed substantially. Recently I was offered a position with Dodge, and this time my wife had the apprehension, I listened to her concerns but in the end took the job and now it

Bill covers the sales territory of CT, RI, and Western MA for Dodge. He has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for the past 16 years. Bill has taught at FINE Mortuary College for almost 16 years. Bill has also been a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves for the past 24 years. He served in Okinawa and the Philippines as part of Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines, and then at Dover Port Mortuary as part of the Army Liaison Team assisting in the repatriation of our fallen soldiers. He is currently the Director of Instruction for a Command and General Staff College battalion covering 18 states.

has been the best thing I have ever done. Good for me, good for my family. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and it is okay to ask advice, but keep your mind open to the possibilities. Get to know your supplier reps ….What??? Your supplier reps have the firsthand knowledge on the new products that are coming out and what is happening. Don’t hide from the guy when he comes to you on a visit, and I am not just saying that because I am one. I am saying it because I learned that the hard way. If you have a good rep he or she will come in with new products or ideas. Don’t be afraid to try those new ideas. If your rep does not present new ideas, ask him what is new, challenge him. They have firsthand knowledge of what is going on. I visit over 325 funeral homes in my territory. If you don’t think I have some kind of idea of what is going on out there, or my fellow reps do, then you are sadly mistaken. We are a great resource and something you should tap into. Another one of my favorites is never say to your coworker, “Gee, it has been blank weeks/ months since we had this type of case,” because, guess what… you are guaranteed to get that type of case in the coming weeks!!! Be thankful for what you have and when those cases do come, it will be time to step up your game. ENJOY THE SLOW TIMES…and EMBRACE THE BUSY TIMES. Take a break from funeral service every once in a while. Change things up, change jobs. If you are in the prep room all the time, you will burn out. Ask your boss, can I meet with a few families, can I sit in on a few arrangements? Mix things up a bit. When you feel yourself getting burned out it is time to try something new. In these economic times, you can’t always take a step away from funeral service, but if you can, you will come back with a renewed appreciation for your job, your families, and a real appreciation for the work you do helping these families through their most difficult time. And finally, my favorite quote is from Robert F. Kennedy. He once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Take risks, try new things, try new technologies, and don’t be afraid to step outside of the box. Learn new things and discover new ideas.

Congratulations, you have worked hard, and you have been through a lot, but this is just the first step. Now it is time to take what you have learned, apply it, grow with it, and become the best funeral director and embalmer that you can be. Good luck in all of your future endeavors and thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today.


As the Merriam-Webster dictionary states: a tribute is a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection. What better way to honor a loved one than with a Tribute urn?

Marble White Adult 950132 Small 950133

Natural Stone Adult 950130 Small 950131

The Tribute Urn can be personalized with a picture of the loved one or a favorite scene which will be reproduced onto a disc and affixed to the urn. It can be personalized with the Name, Date, or even a special verse. Crafted from cast stone, the Tribute Urn is available in Adult and Small sizes of either Natural Stone or Marble White.

Made in North America Š 2013 THE DODGE COMPANY

A FORMALDEHYDE-FREE EMBALMING CHEMICAL THAT ACTUALLY WORKS! Sin ce its introduction, Freedom Cav has proven itself as a reliable source of t h o r o u g h p r e s e r v a t i o n w i t h o u t a n y o f t h e p o t e n t i a l d i s c o m f o rt o f a for m a l d e hyd e - b a s e d cavity chemical. No gas buildup, no liquid buildup, no odors, and the preser vation lasts – day after day, week after week .

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16 oz. Bottle (Case of 24) Catalog No. 241776


The Crash By Duncan Norris

Iwas sitting at my computer, trying to come up with an idea for an article, when inspiration struck. Literally. There was an almost simultaneous succession of very loud bangs outside my house. As I live beside a set of traffic lights and am one turn after a major motorway people are always doing illegal U-turns at said traffic lights to get back in the other direction. Thus fender-benders resulting from such prohibited maneuvers are not uncommon. So I sauntered out from casa del Duncan in my bumming about the house clothes to see what was up. Turns out what was up was of a much greater scope than a broken taillight. An older lady driving north had mistakenly turned right through a red arrow and was hit side-on at full speed by a car going south. It was a catastrophic impact and had it been on the driver’s side she would probably have been instantly killed. As it was, her car had been smashed straight into my property, through my white picket fence, and was only stopped from coming into the house itself by the intervention of a sturdy paperbark tree. Now at this point it would be generous to say more than 15 seconds had passed since the accident and yet as I arrived there was already someone attending to the people in the car still in the intersection and I could hear another person on the phone to emergency services. So I turned my attention to the poor lady who was an unexpected visitor to my premises.

I assisted a very pregnant lady and her husband who had stopped to help, trying to calm the driver and keep her in her seat. I suspect that parent-tobe will be great at motherhood by the way she was able to exert control and calm over the wounded lady. Flashing on my detective skills I retrieved the driver’s cell-phone and called her sister, correctly deducing that anyone traveling on these streets was probably a local on the way home and her family was able to come down, giving her the ease of familiar faces for the hospital trip. We grabbed a few more salient details and passed them along to the paramedics when they arrived1 and the stricken woman was cut out of the car with the jaws of life and stretchered away. In and between and after all of this a few other things happened. One driver who had witnessed the accident had to go (she was late for work) so I took her details to pass along to the police. A pair of teenagers who had been passengers in another car wanted to get home but they were on the wrong side of the crash now and afraid to walk where all the “ambos” and “towies”2 still had their now discarded flashing lights and equipment so I escorted them through it all. I had a chat with the senior3 and grabbed a police incident number, talked about insurance issues, his other crash the next suburb over earlier in the evening, and gave him the details of the work lady. The insurance things he mentioned got me thinking, and standing


An older lady driving north had mistakenly turned right through a red arrow and was hit side-on at full speed by a car going south. It was a catastrophic impact.

Fall 2013

I have noted with various students and other embalmers that you can gauge how long someone has been an embalmer by how they utilize their scalpel. Experienced embalmers will commonly make an incision in a single motion.

Like most of you reading this I have heard variations on “I couldn’t do your job” from people who ask what I do for a living more times than I could possibly remember.

next to a girl who kept staring wide-eyed at the whole scene and repeating, “It’s just like on TV,” I took a few pictures of the now empty car in situ.4 At some point after this I was chatting with another witness who was waiting to give her details and she looked very surprised to learn I was only the unlucky owner of the house. In fact, she thought I was a reporter, which I found highly amusing. Must have been my old t-shirt and shorts with an embarrassingly large hole that made her conclude that I suppose. Now later on I was musing on the events of the night and a sudden awareness came upon me. The reason I slotted into the scene so easily that one lady thought I was working for the Courier Mail and people took my direction about traveling through the scary space of “just like TV” crash scene was that, for me, it was totally normal. I have been an agent of the Coroner in Brisbane since I started in the funeral industry and have been out to countless accident scenes. I am quite certain once upon a time I, too, would have stared and mouthed gormless statements about TV. Now it is just another day in the office. I think as embalmers we are often guilty of a tendency to forget about the normality with which we deal with the most thoroughly abnormal. The average person on the street (whoever that may really be) confronted with a dead body with a severe facial wound will probably have a reaction involving shock, horror, or disgust. A seasoned embalmer will in all probability quickly begin processing ways, means, and options in order to fix that person’s appearance. Being an embalmer naturally and inevitably alters one’s perspective on the world. As an odd side-effect of having done this job for a number of years I have noted with various students and other embalmers (or indeed postmortem technicians or dissectors) that you can gauge how long someone has been an embalmer (or allied professional) by how they utilize their scalpel. Experienced embalmers will commonly make an incision in a single motion. Those relatively new or still learning will almost certainly bring the scalpel down to the skin, stop for a moment, then make the incision. There is a natural reluctance on the part of most people to cut into another person’s

flesh. While we might understand intellectually the necessity of what we are doing, it is on some subconscious level seen as a violation and it takes much repetition until this (otherwise highly desirable) moral programming is overcome. It is an issue that goes right back to the foundation of embalming. In Ancient Egypt the person making the incision (the only one the Egyptian embalmers would perform - the brain being infamously pulled out the nose via a hook) to extract the viscera was ritually stoned for desecrating the body. Cutting up the dead just feels wrong. I think that as embalmers we need to occasionally take time to remember how unique a profession we are in. We stand in the place of family to treat their loved ones with the specialized skill and professional care they are unable to provide. But stripped of its noble words it means we have to dissect viscera and suture flesh, stare at horrendous wounds and reeking cancers for hours on end, deal with blood and feces, pus and less effable fluids as daily normalities. And of the special horror that is preparing children I don’t think anyone needs a more specific reminder. So what is my point in all of this? I think it is vital that both individually and collectively we remember and accept again how hard our profession really is. We sometimes become so normalized to our work that we lose sight of the special combination of factors that go into being a good embalmer. Like most of you reading this I have heard variations on “I couldn’t do your job” from people who ask what I do for a living more times than I could possibly remember. This is the very first of our challenges: that we are willing to undertake and deal with the greatest of societal taboos in our care of the dead. I do not bring all this up so we can sit around high-fiving about how great we all are. When you recognize difficulties, when you recognize the truth, it makes you better able to cope with the very specific pressures and stresses that come arm in arm with our work. It makes dealing with burnout and emotional upheaval easier to accept when you acknowledge you do a difficult job in difficult circumstances. It makes working to standards and having proper treatment of yourself in term of hours and conditions achievable when you consider that most anyone who doesn’t do your job thinks it extremely hard for a very good reason. Because it is.

Duncan Norris is a practicing embalmer from Kenton Ross Funerals in Brisbane, Australia. Sole winner of both the Castaldi and AIE Scholarships, former BIE Divisional Secretary, coronial agent, anatomical lab assistant, and state coordinator for Blake Emergency Services, he is not as egotistical or interesting as all that makes him sound.

The Dodge Magazine

1 Which they totally ignored and for which I don’t blame them Helpful civilians are often fonts of incorrect information. 2 Ambulance personal and tow truck drivers 3 The ranking policeman on the scene 4 Those are in fact the ones heading this article, so you know it’s not just a tall tale.



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Holding Hands

By Joy Johnson

If you have never been to a Dodge seminar, that great mid-winter retreat that combines camaraderie, networking, learning, and fun, you’ve missed a lot. This article came from my research for a presentation in Orlando in March, 2013.

“They have found that most older people who lose spouses from natural causes recover much more quickly than we have come to expect. In fact, for many, acute grief tends to lift well within six months after the loss.”

The Dodge Magazine

so many of us get thicker as we get older.” People who have grieved are beautiful. Seasoned women are beautiful. This article covers just one thing that surprised me about grief in my and Marv’s age group when I started my research. I’ll be 75 this year, Marv will be 82. That confirms it - we’re elderly. What surprised and pleased me came from a New York Times article by Ruth Davis Konigsberg: “They have found that most older people who lose spouses from natural causes recover much more quickly than we have come to expect. In fact, for many, acute grief tends to lift well within six months after the loss. This discovery and subsequent work in the field has been driven primarily by George Bonanno, a clinical psychologist at Teachers College, Columbia University.” Guess what. Like she says, we recover much more quickly than people thought. For a high percentage, acute grief tends to lift well within six months after the loss and follow-up studies showed we didn’t end up horridly depressed or wanting to die ourselves. As one friend of mine said after her husband died, “I don’t think I’m doing this grief thing right.” She wasn’t wallowing or wringing her hands. In fact, she was somewhat relieved. It had been a long illness and a tough marriage. I think the general assumption was that older people just recognized that when we grew old, death was to be expected. And while there was great sadness and sorrow and loneliness, it was a part of life and accepted as such. I think, in just looking at myself and my friends, there are some strengths we have as we age that serve us well. • Coping Skills: we didn’t get old by being stupid. We learned how to handle our grief,

They were there, in uncomfortable chairs Moved tight up against the waiting room wall, Oncology whispered from the writing on the glass door. Their hands were clasped together, clutching, gripping Resting on his knee, knuckles pale. Their white hair blended with the whiteness of the walls It was easy to see which one was the patient The fear and anxiety was shining from his eyes.

Marv and I saw them last year when we walked out of that same office. Our news was good news but not a month goes by that I don’t think of the older couple clasping hands. I think of their (and our) horrible anxiety waiting for the results, the grim sentence, the options. We drive into the hospital parking lot and it is full and I think of all the white-haired men and women in the rooms of the hospital, in hospice care, in grief. As Willie Nelson says, “Growin’ old ain’t for sissies.” It sure ain’t. By the time we’ve passed 65, 70, 80 years and more, we’ve learned a lot about grief. We are now too old to worry about dying young. There is not a one of us who has not experienced multiple grief and our sorrow has made us beautiful. In my fun novels, The BOOB Girls: The Burned Out Old Broads at Table 12, I say - in every book - “Older women are beautiful. Just look at us. Our faces are chiseled and sculpted by sorrow and joy, tears and laughter. Our hair is blown thin by winds of experience, and there is so much knowledge and wisdom in our heads that our heads can’t hold it all and it has to trickle down through the rest of our bodies. That’s why


what to do, what helped and what didn’t. We collected the strength of our ancestors and faced up to grief and ordeals. • Community: we have friends, we have family, we have church or the community center and now we have beautiful independent living apartments and assisted living places as well. There is a different look to aging and keeping active. • Experience: it goes hand-in-hand with coping skills, but we’ve been there, done that and still do it. Grief is no stranger, at least not to most of us. Having said that, I was reminded of Paul, a friend who was a very spry, active 90 year old. He bought a new Cadillac and planned to wear it out. Then his wife, Ginny died suddenly. She was the one who had awakened night after night and listened to make sure he was still breathing. Two months after her death, Marv and I took Paul to dinner. “I just can’t seem to get over it,” he said. He had no idea he would never really get over it, but he expected to do just that. Like all age groups, we’re up and down the entire spectrum of feelings, beliefs, and coping mechanisms. • The Future: we aren’t facing many of the things young grievers face. As my old English teacher said after several years of retirement followed by the death of her husband, “I

can’t wait to be with him.” We know that whatever we feel, we won’t be here for thirty more years and have to create a new life. • STDs – and I don’t mean Sexually Transmitted Diseases. That stands for what we become as we greet old age. We become Strong. Tender. Determined and Smart. STDs. That doesn’t mean we’re not buried in sorrow when a loved one dies. In another article we may explore the multiple losses that come with age, from giving up a home to losing a grandchild. But this article says, “We can do it! We can survive and live fully the life that remains to us.” We are still resilient and we have often mastered graceful aging. As Henri Frederic Amiel said, “To know how to grow old is a masterwork of wisdom and the most difficult chapter in the Book of Life.” I love those words: A masterwork of wisdom. That’s what we all want it to be in this final chapter.

Joy is co-founder of Centering Corporation, North America’s oldest and largest bereavement resource center. She has written or edited more than 150 books on grief and speaks at conferences all over the United States. Joy Johnson

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Ghosts in the Machine

By Dale Bailey

There’s a future in space burial. A company has even sprung up to serve the growing demand, Celestis, and you can find them online. They even offer preplanning.

The Dodge Magazine

No one really dies anymore, that’s the scary thing. Oh sure, people expire. Accidents get them or their bodies succumb to the ravages of time, their hearts beat beat and beat into silence, their lungs stop respiring, and then, still and, well, dead, they arrive at the morgue or the funeral home to undergo the ministrations of the undertaker: embalming and caskets and then the cold mouth of the abiding earth or, more and more often these days, the annihilating conflagration of the crematory, resulting ashes to be scattered along scenic vistas of shore or mountain, or occasionally even shot into space, most famously, perhaps, Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, and Timothy Leary, who advised all of us to “turn on, tune in, and drop out” - which is, I guess, more or less what happened to Star Trek when everybody tuned out in its third season only to tune back in years later for an endlessly expanding Borg-like franchise of television shows, movies, action figures, and technical manuals, which kind of proves my point: nobody - or nothing, in this case - ever really dies anymore. But I digress. Still, a further digression seems apropos for a professional journal of this nature: there’s a future in space burial. A company has even sprung up to serve the growing demand, Celestis, and you can find them online (we’ll come back to the online world shortly - that’s sort of the point here). They even offer pre-planning. So perhaps blasting

crematory ashes into the stratosphere offers a new revenue stream for funeral homes struggling with the decline in traditional burial services. Just saying. But as I was saying way back before I got off track there: no one ever really dies anymore. Sure, we physically expire - we bite the dust, go belly up, or buy the farm - and there’s plenty of online places to remind us of that - which, come to think of it, leads us to another digression, this one germane to my larger point: think about how we think about (deliberate echo, that) the online world in geographic and physical terms. We go online to visit websites that have been built and often renovated to accommodate us. The Internet is an ethereal, invisible, ungraspable web (web: another physical metaphor) of electrons strung from server to server around the world, but it is a place, as well. We think of it in physical terms. We go there. We search for websites (like building sites), some of them stores - the online equivalents of their brick-and-mortar cousins - from which we return to our home page. So there are plenty of places on the Internet to remind us that we all come to ashes and dust (and bacteria and insect and worm grub) in the end. Early on, as the web was being built, online cemeteries and memorials developed. We could, of course, visit (enough with the italics, I think you get the point) them in those antediluvian days of electronic databases, and we can visit them today. Type “online cemeteries” into Google (I


just dead - umm, did) and your first hit is www., the World Wide Cemetery, where you can erect a monument (okay, sorry) to your dear, departed, and lots and lots of people have. And there are online pet cemeteries - the Virtual Pet Cemetery (the first of many Google hits), which “has grown to be the world’s best known and most cherished online burial ground,” where you can memorialize your pet by writing an epitaph to place in a, you guessed it, plot. There’s even the online home of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, “the final resting place to more of Hollywood’s founders and stars than anywhere else on earth.” And I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this, your funeral home has an online site as well. So do we die? The Internet reminds us every day that we do. And even if that fact is something we devote lots of time to trying to forget (as I do; which means that I’m really thinking about it all the time, of course) there’s always the Internet death clock to remind us. Haven’t heard about that? It’s a cheery little place that gathers some data about you and calculates your probable date of death, and gives you a handy count down of the number of seconds you have remaining. It seems that I’ve got about nine years left (I’m forty-five), which means that I have 208,907,056—no 55, no 53, oh hell— seconds to live. This seems an unreasonably short life span to me (I’m going to hurry the rest of this article if you don’t object—and even if you do), and I’d like to take the matter up with someone in authority, but I can’t find the complaint counter, not even on Anyway, check it out for yourself. Curious when you’re going to bite the dust? - can tell you. So to bring this long series of digressions to an end, I’ll just sum up by saying there are lots of reminders on the web to remind us that we too will shuffle off that mortal coil, and soon (very soon for me, it appears). But here’s the thing - these days, we never really die. Not really. I read an article on CNN the other day. Apparently this sportswriter - his name was Martin Manley, and “his ‘efficiency index’ is still used by the NBA to rate players” - recently walked into a Kansas City police station parking lot and committed suicide. According to the same article, the act itself isn’t all that uncommon. About 150 Americans do it every day - roughly 38,000 a year according to the same article. What made Manley’s case different is that he built an elaborate website to explain the reasons for his suicide - not so different perhaps from a suicide note, except that this one, being on the world wide web was right there for, well, the whole wide world to read. In other words, Manley, despite his death, lingers. His ghost is right

there; we can visit it (for the internet, remember, is a place) with a single click of the mouse (or tap of the track pad, or what have you). But surely this is an anomaly, you protest. It is not, the CNN article tells us, going on to chronicle the dozens of other online suicides over the years, including the especially morbid case (skip this part if human nature makes you queasy) of a young Japanese man who hanged himself on webcam, while watchers in an online forum (another geographical metaphor, you’ll note) urged him to go through with it (to be fair, others begged him not to). The video made its rounds for years and is probably still out there if you want to see it, another ghost in the machine. But be careful. You’ll leave footprints. And that’s what I really meant by the title. Not that you need to worry about someone tracking you—the National Security Agency is way too busy data-mining to follow you around like your personal sleuth. No. What I meant is that even after you’re gone, your presence lingers. I was reminded of this all too recently when an acquaintance - someone I cared for and admired, but didn’t know well wound up in rehab after a debilitating stroke. It’s unclear to me how quickly or to what extent he’ll recover (my impression is that things look pretty grim) - like I said, we were mostly Facebook friends, as the expression goes, though we had met from time to time and shared a few drinks. But it was online that I knew him best and online that I most notice his absence - and his presence. He doesn’t post anymore, obviously, so in some senses he’s disappeared from my life, but in other ways he lingers - I can always visit the places where he hung out, his website or his Facebook page, if I want to see him, and others update me fairly regularly – online - about his condition. In short, even as he disappears (and it’s heartbreaking to me to watch that happen, for though I did not know him well, I love and admire his work) he remains in my life - and when the inevitable happens, as it will happen to us all, he’ll still be there. Even if someone goes to the trouble to take down his Facebook page and his website, I can still visit him (at least until my own sell-by date). We leave footprints, you see, and someone can always use the Wayback Machine to uncover them even as the tide of time sweeps them away. The Wayback Machine? I’ll let you uncover that one for yourself. Google it.

Curious when you’re going to bite the dust? www.deathclock. com can tell you.

We leave footprints, you see, and someone can always use the Wayback Machine to uncover them even as the tide of time sweeps them away. The Wayback Machine? I’ll let you uncover that one for yourself.

Dale Bailey is an educator and author who lives in North Carolina with his family. Visit him online at Dale Bailey


Fall 2013

Bread Cast Upon The Waters… By Jerome Burke

I’ll give you all the authorization you need. She died alone, unknown and friendless in my house, and I have the right to make arrangements, haven’t I?”

The Dodge Magazine

There was nothing unusual in this morning’s mail: a letter from my Harvard-sophomore grandson intimating that it would be convenient if I’d “lend” him a few dollars against the monthly check his father sends…one or two small bills…and an appeal for funds from some worthy cause, the name of which I didn’t notice. Across the top of the circular was a legend in two-inch type: CAST YOUR BREAD UPON THE WATERS! Mary Garvey, my secretary, Girl Friday and general office factotum, grinned as she looked at it. “Don’t you do it, boss,” she advised, “The bread would just get waterlogged.” “Not always,” I said. “Sometimes it comes back quite palatable.” “Oh, yeah?” Mary’s Irish as the grass on Knockmany Hill, but you’d think she’s from Missouri, she’s that set on being shown. “Oh, yeah?” “Would you remember Martha Hastings?” I asked her. She wrinkled her forehead. “Should I?” “I don’t know that you should,” I said. “We buried her in 1934, about the time you were a junior-high school miss.” “Me in junior high school then?” Mary protested. “I’d have you know I wasn’t out o’ kindergarten - or anyhow the fifth grade - in 1934!” “All right, all right, I’m sorry if I’ve robbed you of your youth,” I apologized. “But anyhow, her funeral was a case of bread cast on the waters, and when it came back after many days it was far from soggy.” Inquisitive as all women, she wanted to know the story. ***** It had been raining all day, but with nightfall the rain had turned to a Scotch mist that chilled the heart and spirit, and I was more than ready to turn


in and sleep away the remnant of that dismal Friday when the call came. Around midnight, I didn’t know the caller, Mrs. Julia Carstairs, but I knew the neighborhood from which she phoned. One of those shabby-genteel sections where once-fine houses now displayed ROOMS TO LET signs. I had a little trouble finding the house, for every building in the block was an exact duplicate of every other. The front doorbell was broken, so I had to knock repeatedly before a light showed in the transom. Then the door swung back a few inches and a challenging voice said, “Well?” The woman who confronted me was as typically the rooming-house landlady as if she’d been made up for the part in a play. Steel-bowed spectacles perched on her long and rather pinched nose; her graying hair was drawn back in a hard knot on top of her head so tightly that it seemed to make her eyeballs pop. She wore a dark dress and a white apron, and from her belt a bunch of keys jangled. “Well?” she repeated. “My name is Burke, Jerome Burke,” I introduced myself. “You sent for me…” Her manner softened a little. “Oh, yes, Dr. Donovan gave me your name. You’ll find…she’s upstairs in the hall room.” Mrs. Carstairs stood aside to let me enter, then led the way up a steep flight of stairs covered with a moth-eaten carpet. “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout her,” she told me as we went up the stairs. She come here night before last, all tired an’ beatout lookin’…soppin’ wet, too…an’ paid a week’s rent in advance. Said she had the offer of a job, but didn’t tell me where. Didn’t look to me like she could do no job of work, poor thing. Last night she had a dreadful coughing spell, and I called Dr. Donovan. This mornin’ she was worse, and he was

all for sendin’ her to the hospital, but she wouldn’t hear of it. This afternoon he called again, and she… she just went away while he was here. He’ll give you the death certificate…everything’s reg’lar.” Her thin, tired voice trailed off like a run-down phonograph as she shoved back the door of the hall bedroom. “There she is!” “She” was a pretty little thing, past her first youth, but still young. Her hair was blonde, her skin was pale, almost translucent, and the frail hands lying on the worn patched cotton counterpane were delicate and small-boned, like those of a child. “What was her name?” I asked. “She told me it was Martha Hastings. When I asked her where she came from she said it didn’t matter; she hadn’t any friends or family, anyhow.” “Then there’s no one you can get in touch with to authorize me to take charge,” I began, but the woman interrupted. “I called you, Mr. Burke, and I’ll give you all the authorization you need. She died alone, unknown and friendless in my house, and I have the right to make arrangements, haven’t I?” “Ye-es, I suppose so,” I admitted, “but there’s the matter of expenses…Perhaps we should get in touch with the local Welfare…” “Not me! Mr. Burke,” said the landlady. There was pride in her voice and a gentle warmth

of sympathy in her eyes, though she tried to hide the latter with a stiff expression on her face. “The poor friendless soul died in this room, and she’ll not be buried in no Potters’ Field on charity from my house.” “Will this do it?” she asked as she drew a thin pack of bills from her apron pocket. The packet was composed of ten ten-dollar bills so tightly folded that I knew they had been kept in a book, probably the family Bible. I had to do some lightning-calculating. There’d be a grave. The cheapest to be had would cost $20. Ten more for opening it, at least three more for necessary papers, and then the incidentals – say at least $45 before I came into the picture. Could it be done? I’d made a lucky buy of caskets just the week before, picking up some discontinued models from a jobber. One lot figured three-for-a-hundred - this was back in the Depression-days, remember - and among them was one that might do nicely. Not too much of a casket, y’know. Yet surprisingly good for the cost, even in those bad old days of widespread bankruptcy and unemployment. Even so! “Oh, what the hell! Burke,” I said to myself. I looked at the landlady again, saw her work-gnarled hands, her shabby dress, even the neatly-applied patch on her spotless apron. What the hell! If she who had to slave for a bare living

The landlady was the only mourner. She sat bolt-upright and deadpan in the center of the row.

If you know Dodge, you know continuing education has always been an important part of our company. This is why we thought it was important to let everyone know of a new scholarship program for Licensed or Qualified Embalmers from Fountain National Academy (FNA). To apply for the scholarship, applicants will need to write an essay that explores and defines the values associated with embalming, reconstructive surgery, viewing the body, and visitations and/or wakes before final disposition. It should address the value of these services to the funeral home, embalmer, and family and friends of the deceased. It should include ideas regarding how funeral service can better promote these values and educate the public - as well as funeral home owners - regarding the value of these services. Each applicant will be given the latitude to be creative and expand on their ideas and concerns for the future. Applicants are not restricted to FNA programs/seminars but rather interested parties can apply for a variety of CEU programs such as but not limited to: · Programs approved by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP) · National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) CEU programs & Conventions · State or National Funeral Service Associations CEU programs & Conventions · American Society of Embalmers (ASE) · Dodge Institute Seminars · FNA Seminars and International Conferences · Others as approved by FNA

For more information contact: Vernie R. Fountain Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills 2211 West Norton Road, Springfield, Missouri 65803 Email: Phone: 417-833-5130

No sir, nothing was lost. I’ve had full payment for that little service….in the heart…for years past.

from the world, could dig down for a hundred bucks to keep an unknown girl from Potter’s Field, who was I to bicker for a break-even deal in the case? “Sure, that’ll do it nicely,” I told her. “Of course it won’t be very elaborate…” “I ain’t askin’ nothin’ fancy, Mister,” she broke in. “Just make it decent and respectable. Do the best you can. I’m not askin’ no charity.” ***** I did “the best I could.” Martha Hasting’s worldly goods were few: a change of lingerie, two light wash dresses, one pair of shoes, one pair of rayon stockings, a pair of slippers, a comb and hairbrush, and the little, unconsidered trifles women use - an eyebrow pencil, lipstick, jar of vanishing cream, a small bottle of skin-freshener, three dollars in bills and a few coins in silver. The nightgown she died in was a good garment, heavy rayon with a fitted waist and fairly high, round neckline and little shoulder-puff sleeves. I had it and her underwear carefully laundered, found a length of malines to drape stolewise across her narrow shoulders and slim neck - and there we were. By calling on his imagination a little, the beholder could have thought she wore a conservatively-cut evening gown. The pink ripplefinish of the plush with which the casket was covered complemented her fragile, blond prettiness. I did the embalming myself, using a medium fluid and getting excellent cosmetic effect. Six college boys were glad to get $2 apiece to act as pallbearers. The landlady was the only mourner. She sat bolt-upright and deadpan in the center of the row of six chairs I had placed in the little chapel that we used for smaller funerals. She, the six hired bearers, and the minister composed the whole party that went to the cemetery. At the last I couldn’t bear to see that poor child go to her grave without a single flower. So I laid a $5-wholesale spray of pink glads and white stock on the casket – and be damned to any thought of breaking even. All of which, you see, is the sort of thing that you yourself – and many another of the folks in our field of work – have no doubt done a number of times. Sometimes, I grant you, it seems a thankless task. But it isn’t ever really thankless, I believe. For somehow the Good Lord seems, Himself, to repay us – at least (or perhaps one might say “at best!”) – in the heart. And, anyway, a man has to live with himself! But let me tell you the end of the story.

***** I was just about to leave for home one evening in March, 1940, when a big, expensive-looking car drove up. The man who got out of it was big and expensive-looking, too. From his homburg hat and cashmere overcoat to his English-made shoes he looked like ready money. “I’m Edward Carstairs,” he announced. “Yes?” I said, wondering if I ought to know him. “You remember my mother?” he asked. “I don’t think so, Mr. Carstairs,” I told him. “H’m, probably not. She used to keep a rooming house in Webster Street. Worked her fingers to the bone to put me through MIT.” I nodded. Recollection began trickling through my head. Webster Street rooming house…strange girl dying there…landlady paid for the funeral… “I’ve made a pile o’ money in Iranian oil, Mr. Burke,” said my caller. “Coming home, the first thing I did was take my mother out o’ that dam’ rooming house and give her some o’ the things she’d never had. But…” his big chin began trembling, and I thought he would break down and cry…“but I couldn’t stay with her. Had to go back. Six months ago I came home for good. Six months we had together - six months out of nearly seven years. Today she died.” “God rest her!” I exclaimed. “She was a good woman.” “She was. The best Mother an unthoughtful son ever had. She told me how you rallied round when that girl - whoever she was - died in her house. My mother made me promise that ‘if anything happened to her’ I’d call on you. Well, now she’s gone. I want the very best casket and the finest funeral you furnish, Mr. Burke.” He knew what he wanted, and he had the money to pay for it. I saw no reason why he shouldn’t have it. The bill was $1,800, and the check came by return mail. ***** “Now, d’ye see, Mary-me-gal?” I said. “ ‘The bread cast upon the waters returns after many days.’ Not only was there no profit from the funeral of that poor friendless girl, but I lost money on it. Ah, yes - but did I really lose anything at all? No sir, nothing was lost. I’ve had full payment for that little service….in the heart…for years past. And then the bread cast upon the waters did return - several fold. And it wasn’t soggy - not the least bit - I assure you.” “I see what you mean,” said Mary. “What’s the first thing we do today, boss?” “Write a check for $20 and send it to help that appeal,” I told her. “Right now I feel like doing a little bread-casting.”

Jerome is an old funeral director who has told his tales to numerous generations of Dodge Magazine readers. Jerome Burke

The Dodge Magazine


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2013 Embalming — The Challenges & The Rewards Seminar Paris Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada Cut-off for Las Vegas hotel group rates and early bird seminar registration fees is Oct. 13, 2013

November 14 & 15, 2013

2014 Dodge Sunshine Seminar Royal Lahaina Resort, Maui, Hawaii February 3-7, 2014 (No classes Weds. February 5) Information on this program will be added to the Seminars page of when it becomes available.

Dodge Magazine - Fall 2013  
Dodge Magazine - Fall 2013  

Dodge Magazine - Fall 2013