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the unusual story of what happens afterwards

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I haven’t written in a while.

Apologies.

Usually I don’t write when there is too much or too little happening in my life; I have been experiencing the former. Again, the malcontent that I am, I tend to struggle both when I have too little – I worry that I should be busier, that I might be considered a free-loader (by the voice in my head which is a distorted echo chamber of what I think everyone else thinks), or, I am running around like crazy without a moment to spare; no down-time, too many things, not enough time to sit and think.

They call this the Goldilocks Effect; usually to explain life on earth – there wasn’t too much and not too little, just enough cosmic dust to create life and start things going and, here we are.

Perhaps that is a too grandiose allusion for my place in the world, it does seem to fit, and, the alternative malcontent seems harsh.

Another reason for my absence from the blog world has been the subject of a blog I have been mulling; it keeps coming back despite my sense it is wrong – death. I have in fact written a whole blog that is sitting on my desktop called funnily enough, ‘death’ – I felt it was too… well, too much about death to publish.

Here are some of my thoughts.

Apologies (2) for anyone who wasn’t expecting this descent into the morbid.

It started round about the time I had finished listening to Mythos by Stephen Fry on Audible. This is his re-telling of some of the Greek myths and legends. One of the characters who features throughout the narratives is Thanatos – aka death.

I won’t go into the details here – suffice it to say, if you are interested, it explains amongst other things, why Sisyphus has to push that boulder up a hill.

So, death.

Death has been in the headlines recently; something people are talking about – sparked by the Coronavirus.

How many people have died or might die?

Well, today, no one knows, although for certain there are people sitting in government offices calculating just this; working-out worst case scenarios and the like. It must be a depressing job.

Anyway, death is out there.

It is from this point that my thoughts bifurcate; go-off in directions that are unpredictable, and, probably where I should write a book about the topic, although I am not sure anyone would want to read it and I certainly wouldn’t want to write it.

It comes to service centres.

Has anyone heard of them?

Essentially, they are part of the process of being dead.

Until I learned about these places, I had the romantic idea that a person dies, ideally slips away at an old age in their sleep, preferably at home with family around, surrounded by memories and mementos, devoid of pain or fear.

Then, the person, now dead body is taken to an undertaker where they remain in cold suspension (4-5 degrees centigrade) until the date of the funeral.

The reality is that this does happen although infrequently.

Here is where the service centres come in.

A person dies; the family call the undertaker who transports the body to their local shop – often, and this is odd, an extension to the family home (which although strange, is somehow, simultaneously comforting); the body remains there until a certain time – I don’t quite know the details; then it is moved to a service centre where embalming happens.

Embalming was new to me. I had heard about it, although I’d never fully investigated the implications; the body is ferried – I imagine in a hearse to the local centre where there are facilities for the procedure.

As there are certain requirements for this process (which I will describe) it can’t be done anywhere, and thus, we have factory-level processing of the dead.

It is hard to find details of what actually happens during embalming, although, to be honest, I haven’t looked that hard.

This is the removing all the blood, fluid and gederim (kishkes) from a body; taking away those bits that will hasten decomposition and replacing by preservative fluids, followed by stitching-up, dressing, applying make-up, padding or whatever, to create as life-life a replica of the person before they died, then the body can return to the undertaker in preparation for the funeral.

There is therefore quite a lot of coming and going after death.

I hate to think what happens to the surplus blood and guts.

Oftentimes embalmed bodies will be taken to the crematorium in a sealed box where they will be, well, cremated.

It all seems a little macabre and potentially excessive.

I don’t want to do the embalmers out of a job, yet is this really necessary?

I don’t know enough. To the best of my knowledge, in Jewish and Muslim burials this doesn’t happen, a significant number of people who die across the world presumably aren’t embalmed.

I am not judging, merely representing a recent discovery that I thought unusual.

Sorry if this blog has tricked you into reading about something you were not expecting; death – it happens to us all; get over it and make the most of your life.

That felt harsh. Apologies 3.

Be well readers, enjoy the storm and, I promise to move-on soon.

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3 Replies to “the unusual story of what happens afterwards”

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