American Funeral Industry History / Background

Pre-Civil War: the model was a family/home funeral & burial.

The American Civil War: the changing point.

  • Embalming for deceased soldiers so the bodies could be shipped home and then have a viewing. 
  • President Lincoln’s embalmed body went on a whistle stop tour which further publicized embalming. 
  • The Public liked the idea of attractive “lifelike” corpses.
  • Thus, the Birth of the modern Funeral Home.

Now: 

Funeral Directors arrange the details and handle the logistics of funerals. Most are also trained, licensed, and practicing embalmers. They handle the paperwork involved with the person’s death. And also work with those who want to plan their own funerals in advance. Lastly, they comfort the family & friends of the deceased. 

The Death Care (ie funeral) Industry has not changed in the last 75 years. The consumer is purposefully kept in  the dark. 

  • Funeral used to be: tending to the dead.
  • Now they are about: celebrating a life. 
  • The traditional Funeral Home is no longer a necessity. 

No Funeral Director

  • In 42 states you do not have to use the services of a Funeral Director.
  • In 8 states a Funeral Director is required by law, but even then, only their “Basic Services Fee” is a requirement. 
  • Funeral Industry evolves at a snail’s pace.
  • Funeral Industry deliberately keeps things Hidden.
  • Funeral Industry is built upon 2 things:
    • Embalming a body
    • Selling you a casket 
  • Funeral Homes must show you a Price List
    • It is the “General Price List (GPL)” and required by Federal Law.
  • If you engage with a Funeral Home the only thing you must pay is the “Basic Services Fee”. 

Service Corporation International (SCI)

  • The largest funeral home company in America.
    • It may appear that your local “Mom & Pop” funeral home is still a family business when in reality it is owned by SCI and simply run by the family. SCI has been aggressively buying out homes for decades. 
      • This allows for them to “cluster” their services, charge higher prices, and deploy questionable (at best) selling tactics. 
    • They now own over 1500 funeral homes and 400 cemeteries across the United States. 

The Body

  • Corpses are Not dirty or dangerous
    • There is No public health risk – that is a Myth
  • Embalming is Not required by any law
    • 66% of people thought it was required by law if not immediately buried. 
    • “We must do it because of a A Hygiene Issue with the corpse” – that is also a Lie
    • Formaldehyde is a carcinogen (cancer-causing) per OSHA
      • It is classified a “Hazardous Waste” by the EPA
  • Embalming is a Temporary preservative, like nitrates in your sausage.
    • It will last for a Viewing of the body but not much longer. 
      • It is done only to showcase the face and hands. 

Embalming Steps (ideally explained with a cartoon video: people need to see what is done but the animation element allows enough distance to not cause trauma/nausea)

  • What this entails doing to your loved one (or you!):
    1. Clothes stripped, body spritzed with strong disinfectant and then scrubbed with germicidal soap.
    2. Wads of cotton soaked in phenol pushed into anus and vagina. Then dry cotton (or threaded plastic plugs). Likewise, dry cotton stuffed deep into both ears. 
    3. Face shaved. Body massaged to counteract rigor mortis. 
    4. “Setting the Features” – head placed on rubber block, elbows, shoulders and hands positioned into their final pose. 
    5. Breasts joined together with duct tape
    6. Plastic eyecaps. Eyelids held with Superglue.
    7. A needle staple gun shooting barb-tipped wires is used to keep the mouth shut. A caulk putty fills the mouth and cheeks until it oozes out. More Superglue is used. 
    8. Artery Injection:
      1. Cuts into neck to get at Carotid Artery and Jugular Vein. Metal needle stuck into the Carotid. Another Metal Needle stuck into Jugular for draining. 64 ounces of “Formalin” (a cocktail of formaldehyde, methanol, phenol & pink dye) slowly pumped into the body as the blood drains out the Jugular into the slop sink and into the city sewer system
    9. Body vigorously massaged to encourage flow and push out clots. After 20 minutes, machine turned off, all tubes disconnected, arteries and veins tucked, all wounds and cuts stitched shut, and more sealing putty used. 
    10. Cavity Injection:
      1. Trocar, a 2 foot long metal tube that runs into a sharp arrowlike point, is connected via tubing to basically a Shop-Vac. Just above the bellybutton, the Trocar is driven into the stomach. It is vacuumed out. Another thrust of the Trocar pierces another organ: the heart, lungs, colon, intestines, liver, bladder. Each one is driven into by the Trocar and then Shop-Vac’d out.
      2. Once everything (blood, gas, poop, urine, half-digested cheeseburger and fries, and bacteria) have been sucked out, it is now time to hook up the Trocar to an undiluted concoction of Formalin (formaldehyde, phenol, etc).
      3. The Trocar is shoved again and again into the body to fill the entire insides with this highly toxic chemical cocktail. The embalmer’s eyes water and nose burns.
      4. NOTE: If brain matter started leaking from the nose (a common occurrence) a small “infant” Trocar would be shoved up the nose and the brain tissue Shop-Vac’d out also. And then it would be re-shoved up through the nose and the same toxic cocktail pumped into what used to be the person’s brain.
    11. Embalming complete, the body is now ready to be cleaned, massaged, shampooed, cosmeticized, and dressed. With more Superglue and watertight plastic pants deployed to fight mold

“Memory Picture”

  • This is the casketed facial and hand pose that the funeral home creates to supposedly help mourners accept that their loved one is not living anymore. 
  • Is viewing of the body of any value? 
    • Depends who you ask. 
      • Funeral directors say yes. 
      • Scientists and Grief Counsellors say no. 
  • Closure is not possible, nor desirable. 
  • Creating this “Memory Picture”, which brings together the two main moneymakers of the funeral home: embalming & casket purchase – is what the Funeral Directors desperately hold on to in order to sell their products. 

Caskets

  • 3/4 of all caskets are metal
  • “Sealed” “Protective” “Gasketed” or with “Burpers” Caskets are a Scam. They turn the body to soup even faster.
  • 3rd Party caskets (ie Costco, Amazon, WalMart): funeral home must accept them by law. 
  • Biodegradable caskets (green burial) – there are more and more options available.
  • Obesity epidemic – oversize caskets

Cremation

  • Rapid acceptance: now over 50%
    • Two factors why: 
      1. It’s cheaper & simpler. 
      2. Rise of Memorial Services instead of body viewings.
  • Neptune Society – largest cremation company in the nation.
    • Owned by SCI, they use the same nefarious methods and price strategies. 
  • No law mandates a body must be cremated in a casket
  • Direct Disposal (“Bake n Shake”) – creates 6-10 pounds of cremains. 
  • To cremate 1 Body uses the equivalent energy of a 500 mile car trip.
    • Not exactly environmentally friendly.
  • Very few Americans have ever witnessed a cremation. It is kept hidden. 
  • In Japan they cremate 99.9%.
  • Crestone Pyre – in Colorado: the only open air cremation place in the USA. 
  • Cremation Cam – so loved ones can watch the purifying flame. 

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