04/04/2013 08:19 AM
” A new form of cremation that proponents claim is more environmentally friendly may soon be legal in New Hampshire. It goes by many names including Resomation, Aquamation, bio cremation, and non-flame cremation. The scientific term is alkaline hydrolysis…”
02/14/2013 09:18 AM
Saving New Orleans’ Storied Cemeteries
Death is very much a part of life in New Orleans. Funerals can become celebrations featuring parades, jazz bands, dancing, even hot dog vendors. Cemeteries — more than 40 within city limits — are also tourist attractions, neither foreboding nor uninviting. For locals, they are familiar parts of everyday life. Tennessee Williams knew this; in his classic play he had Blanche DuBois tell her sister, Stella, “They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries….” from Obit online magazine: (click here)
02/05/2013 09:15 AM
“A few dozen Ohioans will meet Wednesday evening in a community room at a Panera Bread outside of Columbus for tea, cake and conversation over an unusual shared curiosity.
For two hours, split between small circles and a larger group discussion, they’ll talk about death. A facilitator may throw out questions to spark the conversation: How do they want to die? In their sleep? In the hospital? Of what cause? When do they want die? Is 105 too old? Are they scared? What kind of funerals do they want, if any? Is cremation better than burial? And what do they need accomplish before life is over?
This is the Death Cafe, an anything-goes, frank conversation on death….”
02/04/2013 08:22 AM
Readstown Chili Supper
to support the Readstown Museum
held at Peace Lutheran Church-Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013- 4-7 P.M.
suggested donation $5
05/07/2012 08:17 AM
Funerals Are Different These Days
“Science and technology also removed some of the mystery from death. Before the Civil War, embalming was viewed as a gruesome mutilation of the body. Only dead soldiers were embalmed in order to preserve the bodies for shipping back home.
President Abraham Lincoln was the first fully embalmed person put on display in American history, and his traveling funeral train provided a public viewing of death for thousands of people.” from here
Read more: Anniston Star - Joyful sorrow Funerals are no longer somber affairs
03/18/2012 09:05 AM
Modern Embalming: a talk given at Threshold Care Circle, March 17, 2012, Landmark Center, Viroqua, Wis.
by John H. Sime
Modern embalming goes back to the work of an apothecary’s assistant in France serving in the army of Napoleon. Jean Gannal devised a method of preserving cadavers used for anatomical research. He later made his services available to the general public.
Prior to the American Civil War, his techniques had arrived in the United States through the translation of Gannal’s book “The History of Embalming” by Dr. Richard Harlan. Again, the techniques were initially used as a means of preserving anatomical cadavers and later made their way into use for the general public. The Civil War provided the impetus for embalming to spread throughout the country as for the first time large numbers of men were dying far from home and families wished to have them returned home for viewing and burial. President Lincoln and his son Willie were both embalmed.
For many years, “natural” versus “artificial” embalming competed for the market in the USA. Natural embalming involved displaying the body in metal caskets that were not used for burial. There were instead tanks that were made to resemble caskets which could be filled with ice. This was standard water ice, not dry ice. The body would then be laid upon the ice and could then be preserved for the two or three days required for the typical funeral procedure. At the time of burial, the body was taken out of the casket and buried in a standard wooden casket usually made in the vicinity, perhaps by the undertaker. The metal casket had a spigot which could be opened to let the melted ice and water drain out for the next usage.
Artificial embalming required the presence of chemical companies to produce the embalming chemicals needed to preserve the bodies in the manner outlined by Jean Gannal and others. It also required knowledge of the circulatory system, which had first been discovered by Dr. William Harvey in 17th century England. Until that time people had not realized that arteries carry blood from the heart and lungs to the organs and that the veins carry the blood from the organs back to the heart and lungs. It had been thought by some doctors that the arteries carried air throughout the body because blood is not usually found in the arteries at the time of death.
Jean Gannal realized that a preservative could be injected into the arteries and carried throughout the body, with the blood being drained via the veins. This is the essence of modern arterial embalming, which is a far more effective preservation method than previous methods, such as long term soaking of the body in salt water or natron solution as used by the Egyptians, and such as hypodermic injection of preservatives throughout the body. It not only effectively distributes the preservative, but also removes the blood which is the primary vector of the decomposition process.
Various preservatives were tried over the years. Jean Gannal used aluminum acetate and chloride. Dr. Thomas Holmes, who is credited with being the primary advocate of arterial embalming in the USA, particularly during the Civil War, used zinc chloride and arsenic. By the end of the 19th century formaldehyde had been developed as a preservative. Eventually legislation was passed banning the use of arsenic and other heavy metals for embalming largely for medico-legal reasons.
By the turn of the 19th/20th centuries, states began to legislate on other aspects of embalming. For the first time it was required that embalmers receive some sort of education in the embalming process itself. Initially, as there were no colleges or universities which taught such courses, this type of instruction was done in seminars performed by chemical companies. Would be funeral directors would travel to some large city and learn about embalming, embalming fluid, and anatomy in a course lasting a week or two and then return home with a supply of embalming chemicals and instruments. Gradually, the seminars were lengthened into a month, and finally schools were established to teach the subjects on a permanent basis. The first such school was in Denver, Colo. , the second was in Louisville, Ky. (of which I was a graduate in 1980). Today there are about twenty funeral education programs in colleges and universities throughout the nation.
Embalming was at first done in the home. The chemicals were transported to the home and the blood drained from the body was collected and transported back to town for disposal. Moreover, as many funerals were also in the home, the funeral director also transported chairs, draperies, and the casket to the home. As the twentieth century progressed this work was gradually moved to facilities set up by the funeral director at his place of business. These places were variously called mortuaries or funeral parlors or funeral homes.
Oscar Anderson was the man who founded the funeral home I now own and operate in Readstown. He was a cousin of my father, Henry Sime. Oscar hired my father and my uncle Harlan Sime to work for him in the funeral home doing odd jobs. Eventually, both of them became funeral directors and purchased the business when Oscar died in the late 1940s. Oscar moved to Readstown in 1905 and set up a furniture business. It is not long before his advertisement in the Readstown Herald contains a line “Caskets Available”. Gradually this progresses to “Undertaking Services Provided”, and later to “Oscar Anderson-Funeral Director and Embalmer”. He journeyed to first Chicago to take a short embalming seminar, and later to Valparaiso, Indiana where he took a longer course at Valparaiso University. For many years his funerals and visitations were conducted in the homes and in churches, until the 1920s when he purchased the first of two large homes which he converted into funeral homes.
Like most funeral directors and embalmers of his era, Oscar first used the gravity method to inject the embalming fluid into the body. A bottle of embalming fluid is suspended over the body and the force of gravity will gradually replace the blood in the circulatory system with the embalming fluid. Eventually, pump devices were invented which can inject the fluid into the body mechanically using water pressure. The first embalming machine installed at our establishment was brought to Readstown by Oscar’s son in law, Art Terhune, who had purchased it while attending embalming school in Milwaukee. Oscar protested the procedure from the start, exclaiming repeatedly: “You are going to blow the body up!”. However, when he saw the finished results, and was pleased, he simply said in this thick Norwegian brogue: “From now on you embalm all the bodies around here with that thing there!”.
By the time I received my license in 1980, I was the eighth member of my family to work as a funeral director in our firm. That does not include numerous wives, sisters, brothers, in-laws, cousins, and girl friends who were drafted to help move caskets, pick up bodies, fix hair, and dress bodies.
03/17/2012 04:44 PM
CHILD BEREAVEMENT PROGRAMS IN WISCONSIN
for CHILD BEREAVEMENT PROGRAMS IN WISCONSIN
from the Wisconsin Department of Justice
02/14/2012 08:29 AM
Readstown Chili Supper
Peace Lutheran Church
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012–4 to 7 PM
Proceeds to the Readstown Museum