Something of Outrageous Importance!!!

Something of ridiculously outrageous importance has occurred at my school regarding embalming class! And it has left me.. outraged.

In addition to a new teacher for embalming classes next semester (which is not the outrageous part of this news), the lab that usually accompanies class has been done away with (that’s the outrageous part, insert your standard jaw drop here). While speaking to my adviser, he told me that there were a few changes to the curriculum for us MOS students, but he only mentioned the change in teacher for embalming class and a side note about which computer class MOS majors are now required to take. He also briefly mentioned that MOS students at our school are no longer being required to take Chemistry. However, since I entered the school when the catalog said Chem was a required course, I still need it as a credit towards my degree. Which is cool, since I’m almost done with it. This last bit is for you prospective students at LCNE.

Then yesterday, after Chem class, my good friend/partner in crime/future roommate told me that they’ve done away with the embalming lab and upped the number of bodies you have to embalm during your internship from 10 to 20. Initially, I was shocked. After thinking about it a little bit more, I was still shocked! How could they take away the practical, hands-on experience for something that’s a cornerstone of our field?! For your state apprenticeship here in CT, you have to embalm something like 150-200 people. There’s no written board exam about everything else. It’s all about embalming. We need that experience.

So, in an effort to be fair, let’s break this down into pros and cons, shall we?

Pros of Doing Away With Embalming Lab: As I’ve mentioned, there are no bodies on campus. We have to drive to the UConn Medical Center in Farmington, maybe fifteen minutes away, for our embalming lab. Not everyone has cars on campus and sometimes it can be a hindrance to try and take the class without having that transportation, as the shuttles that run from our school do not run to the Med Center. (Which is a debate for another time.) It’s less work for the teacher, who teaches quite a few classes that already have labs and take up a significant portion of time on top of her already busy funeral director schedule. It’s the department head’s final decision, and as someone who built our program from the ground up and is in general a very competent and sage instructor who really only wants the best for his students and the program, I really do trust his decision on nearly anything. (No, he doesn’t read this and I’m not sucking up for extra credit. Unless you are reading this, Doc, in which case, can I just say how lovely the fake severed hands and dripping blood around your office are?)

Cons of Doing Away With Embalming Lab: As I mentioned, embalming is the cornerstone of our industry and we’re all raring to do it. So let’s be rational for a minute here. Suppose, hypothetically, someone takes their embalming class and passes it with a B. That’s a totally acceptable grade, and one that’s still considered a passing grade in my school. (77 and above, remember!) So then they get a really great internship at a really great funeral home. Their first time ever, ever embalming someone isn’t going to be a donated cadaver that can be possibly messed up and your teacher might yell at you and then show you how to fix it. It’s going to be someone’s loved one, that has to look perfect and presentable and preferably not smell like decomp at their funeral. If they mess it up, the funeral home is liable, and so is the school. You mess up on a person for their funeral, and you mess up the whole funeral. Plus, what are the odds of working at a funeral home that gets 20 people for funerals that all want to be buried in an 15 week semester? Nil, man. Unless you’re working in the same town as Dexter. My family friend who’s a funeral director went an entire six weeks with NO calls. Not one. Not one funeral, not one dead person. That’s a lot of time considering the 15 week time limit. That number makes me extremely nervous.

I’m probably going to go beg Doc to reinstate the lab, even if it takes tears and groveling. I just think this is way too big a part of our potential careers to afford to NOT have practical, hands-on experience before actually going in and embalming in a funeral home. Everyone is bound to make mistakes, but I would much rather make mistakes embalming a donated cadaver than make them on a body that needs to be perfect to prevent a law suit and the subsequent firing of me as an intern. Do you know what it feels like to be fired from an internship? It’s not cute.

What do you guys think? Lab or no lab?

Until next time,


PS: Anyone else see the World War Z trailer? I know that some funeral directors don’t like zombies because they’re not exactly death positive, but I think of them as more of a cultural phenomenon. We’re scared of becoming mindless sheep, blithely consuming everything in our path with no thought of consequences. But that’s just my take.


~ by mementomorissa on November 9, 2012.

3 Responses to “Something of Outrageous Importance!!!”

  1. Would you want a mechanic that only learned about engines in a book and never took one apart? I say beg and grovel for the lab.

  2. Yeah, that’s absolutely insane. I got my degree in medical laboratory science, which is SO MUCH hands on lab stuff. I mean, it’s a lab testing degree. I don’t see how on earth you can be expected to embalm with no practical experience. That is a major disappointment and a serious disadvantage to you, your fellow students, and your potential employers. Man, I can’t believe it. Good luck begging and groveling! Are your classmates as enraged about this too? Strength in numbers! Keep us updated!

    BTW I’m enjoying your blog so much! And I love all the Jeff Winger references 😀 Can you believe the next season has been pushed back to February?! Blah!

    And I am thrilled thrilled thrilled that you get to work with Caitlin Doughty! I found you through her blog, actually. I love how she’s working to make death more open in our culture that sanitizes death so much. And I love that you’re on your way to doing the same and changing more attitudes! Keep at it, America needs ladies like you 🙂

    I mean, seriously…I’m embarrassed to admit that until this year, I did not realize that embalmed bodies buried in caskets decay just like everybody else. Whaaaat. I just find this whole process completely fascinating and I’m so glad your mortuary secrets are being spilled 🙂

    Also! Dissecting is probably what I miss most about college! Haha thanks for letting me live vicariously through your dissection. Loved the pictures! I got to dissect an eye in 7th grade, it was so awesome. Yay vitreous humor!

    Haha anyway, thanks for sharing your experiences. Keep it up, stay motivated, and good luck with getting the embalming lab reinstated!

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