How best to be laid to rest?
Recently, I had the interesting experience of visiting the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston. The picture I've shown here is the section of the museum devoted to 'embalming'.
This leads me to the area where I'm seeking you opinions and discussion. One thing that the embalmer used to do (in the 'old days' the embalmer was your funeral director or undertaker) was come to the home of the deceased and prepare the body for the 'viewing'. After embalming the person and preparing them, the family would keep the body at home for some period of time so people could come and visit and pay their respects.
I don't think we really do this anymore. Death and the tidying up after death has been moved to a more impersonal place in our lives. A person can practically avoid it altogether. The think I like about the old way is that the living don't sanitize it to the point where you could forget the person died. It was 'in your face' and I think that ultimately it helped for everyone to deal with it.
I came to this conclusion in a round about way. Years ago one of my dogs, Torin, was run over, right in front of me. It was winter, nighttime, and we were having a snowstorm. I took my dog's body home and laid it in the garage. Because of the time and conditions I really couldn't do anything with it right then so I sat in the garage, and cried, and petted his body, and cried some more. I spent hours thinking about our time together. My boyfriend came over and did the same, as well as another girlfriend who was close to me and my dogs. The next day, it was still -20 and the ground was covered in snow, but my boyfriend* and I took Torin's body to his house and buried him in the back yard. While I mourned Torin for a long time, the whole process of saying goodbye was really helpful to me in being a peace with his passing, even though he died a violent and untimely death.
Today, when someone I know passes away, I make a point to go to the funeral and any kind of gathering/celebration of their life that might be offered. It is really important to me and find its one of the few times that people let their social masks slip. Emotions are usually running high and people are 'real'.
What do you know of rituals today that we use to help deal with death. Do you think we go too far in modern society to keep it out of view? Do you personally let yourself get engaged in the funeral ritual when someone passes away?
* he's now my husband. Earned a lot of brownie points for digging a grave in the frozen ground in the middle of winter for my beloved friend! :-)