Excellence is Priority in the Prep Room
Shun Newbern, MS, CFSP
Each year I serve as a consultant for the defense in several embalming related cases. Most of those cases were shipping related matters that reflected on inadequate case analyses by the embalmer. Calibrating the proper amount and type of embalming chemicals is important. Poor analyst of the decedent’s condition prior to embalming could be horrendous.
Great embalming is due to several essentials. In addition to quality chemicals, the other fundamentals are the use of soft water, and co-injection additives. The following is a small list of perplexing conditions an embalmer can face: diabetes, vascular diseases, renal failure, sepsis, jaundice, decomposition, and sustained life support can add complications to the embalmer. At any rate, hastening and quick procedures is not an option when quality is fundamental.
Majority of the time, the embalmer is not aware of the actual cause of death. With experience, the embalmer visual examines the decedent to analysis the extreme condition of the tissue. When the procedure is beyond their knowledge, the practitioner calls on a more experienced embalmer or makes alternative suggestions to the family.
What is the rush? Too often families are grieving and want to see their loved one expeditiously and not consider that the human tissue needs time to allow the chemical to respond to swelling, distention, odor, gases that may be present. Nor does the funeral director explain or explore other options with the family to make the viewing a valuable experience.
An embalming report is prepared before the procedure begins. This report aids as a learning and measure tool of a known or unknown condition is evaluated. During and after the embalming the report is updated concerning changes, improvements and problems that may occur.
A skilled and prudent embalmer has to ascertain which quality embalming chemical to use and the adequate amount of time to carry out the procedure. Do you update your embalming report when you follow up to aspirate a second, third or fourth time? Are you making additional notations to the report indicating additional time to reduce swelling, prevent leakage or to restore the facial features?
Do you receive embalming reports with domestic or international ship in’s? Never resist the need to complete an embalming report after you receiving a case from another mortuary. Pointing out the errors of another professional to grieving family members is not always the prudent thing. It can have huge consequences. This report should be as detailed as your own, as you ascertain if there should be additional treatments – minor or major.
Like any other business profession, embalming has its challenges that require experience and additional knowledge. Embalmers should attend seminars, conferences, workshops to hone and improve their skills and learn additional techniques. Why? If you are deposed, the opposing attorney will question if you have had any current training and continued education. There are several improvements in the science of embalming; that duty to know falls upon the embalmer.
Is there a Value in Viewing?
Shun Newbern, MS,CFSP
Good information is the basis of good solid decision making. When a loved one dies, we all know, intellectually, that they really have died. But people, regardless of how bright or sophisticated - have strong feelings which are not logical when a powerful emotional issue is involved. Seeing the body as the focal point of a ritual (the funeral service) is a powerful form of reality testing. When one is dead, they are dead.
Social scientists who study grief and the serious psychological problems it can cause consistently find value in viewing and the funeral. We all know instinctively how bad not seeing the body would be when a person goes missing, soldier dies overseas, plane crashes or a bombing occurs. Thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent searching for lost bodies, and we all understand why.
Most of us was taught from childhood that the polite and proper thing to do was to say "Hello" when we meet someone and "Good-Bye" when we departed their presence. In the Western Culture we acknowledge contact with another person with a hand shake, hug, high five, smile or a nod of the head. And finally, when we leave the presence of another person we shake hands, give hugs but most importantly we say "Good-Bye" - this was all taught from childhood. Thus, when someone suddenly dies the family and friends has the basic, and very distinctive human need to say "good-bye".
Embalmers are professional, skilled, knowledgeable and well trained to restore decedents after a febrile disease, long-term disease or trauma of any kind. Shun Newbern & Associates also offer training for embalmers who lack those skills or who would like to improve their standard of care. Reconstructive surgery performed is a unique professional expertise that cannot be provided by discipline and provides an enormous value for families.
The Great Values of Viewing :
Ø Provides the family and friends with the confrontation that death has in fact occurred to test the reality - seeing is believing.
Ø Without viewing it can be difficult for the family and friends to persuade their own mind that their loved one or close friend is gone. Denial can cause a person to continually expect their deceased loved one to someday "just walk through the door."
Ø Viewing the body is a very special time that allows the family and friends to begin the transition into their new life. That new life is continuing to live onward without the presence of their loved.
Ø Viewing provides comfort and a time for everyone to say goodbye to the deceased in their own personal way.
Ø Viewing provides a means of social support. Regardless of the method chosen for final disposition of the body a public visitation can be of great help to family and friends in dealing with the grieving and mourning process.
Ø Viewing of the body should always be considered before final disposition.
Ø The open casket viewing is the most personalized part of any funeral ritual or ceremony. Not having the body present at a funeral ceremony or ritual is like having a wedding ceremony without the bride or groom being present.
For current embalming, restorative art presentations please use click on the "Seminar" page above.
Adams, Jack (September 2002). The Key to a Successful Viewing, The Dodge Magazine
Fountain, Vernie (June 2008) Fountain National Academy of Professional Services, Springfield, MO, Retrieved July 10, 2009 from: http://www.fnacademy.com
Steele, Dr. Donald W. Steele Consulting and Publications, Mansfield, MA, http://www.steelepublication.com
What are people saying about Shun Newbern?
“I have worked with Shun on many different occasions and his attention to detail is superb, he is a sharp young man who knows the art and science of his craft. His strong leadership skills in and out of the office has directed my growth in Funeral Directing and Embalming.”
Asa Saunders , Mortician / Embalmer, Southern Calif.