||[18 Feb 2005|12:12am]
Did You Know?....
...that most wood caskets do not seal? If you want one that seals, you have to specify that when picking or ordering one.
...that casket come in a huge variety of materials? They range from hard cloth covered compressed cardboard, to particle-board, fiberboard, pine, oak, maple, ash, mahogany, etc. Then there's 16, 18 & 20 gauge stainless steel caskets. Copper & bronze caskets can go as high as 48 ounce. There's also casket made from manufactured stone. There used to be cast iron caskets w/ glass viewing window.
...that in the old days, they would pack the funeral parlor (or the family's home if the wake was held there) with tons of flowers as a way of masking the odor of a decaying corpse? Embalming wasn't really perfected until the 20th century, and caskets were often placed on a cooling board, which resembled a tub or crate of ice under the body to slow down the decaying process.
...that around that late 1800's & early 1900's, businesses used for funeral purposes were just called Undertaker. (You've probably seen this in old western movies) The term "Undertaker" was forced to change to funeral home (or parlor) in order to sound less morbid?
...that in the 1800's undertakers were the first to come up with diet plans? This came because they were tired of making oversized coffins for obese people. (This is just a rumor I heard, so don't quote me on this. I just think it was interesting enough to post here)
...that embalming fluid contains a redish-pink dye coloring? Do you know why? It does nothing for the embalming process, right? ? ? That's because after death, your skin naturally loses it's color and turns white and sometimes gray, and the dye helps bring it back a little.
...that embalming really wasn't perfected until the Civil War? It was used as a way to preserve the body so they could ship it back to the family for the funeral back home.
...that in the 1700's and 1800's, some people were mistaken for dead and actually buried alive because either their heart-beats were so slow or so faint that they couldn't find a pulse? Stethoscope weren't invented until the mid 1800's and even then, they weren't that strong at first.
...why it's called a "wake"? Because of the mistaken for dead cases, services weren't held immediately to see if the person would "wake" up or not. (see the next one below).
...why wakes are held 3 to 5 days after the person has died. This tradition started as a way to make sure to not mistake them for dead, just in case they were still alive. They would give them a few days to see if they (A) wake up, or (B) show signs of decomposition.
...that ice fishing tip-ups were designed from an idea from a special signal device invented many years ago that was rigged from the coffin to the ground's surface in case someone was buried alive? It was a hollow pole with a rope or chord that led from the casket to a flag or bell at the graveside, so that if the person was buried alive, they could pull the rope and signal someone that they were still alive. It was the caretakers' job to watch over the grave for a few days in case the device was activated. There was even a model rigged with a flare or fireworks, so that if they woke up and pulled the chord, they would set them off and be seen from anyone nearby, or somewhat far away. After a week, they were presumed "really" dead, and the device would be removed.
...that when embalming was first invented, almost everyone thought it was a blessing? Mainly because it would eliminate cases where someone might be accidentally mistaken for dead and buried alive. Some said that "If you weren't dead BEFORE embalming, you sure were afterwards!"
...that before embalming, people were horrified of being mistaken for dead and buried alive? Some would request horrible things done as a test to make sure. Some people asked to be poked with a pin while others went as far as to request a knife or stake in the heart, cutting off a finger and even decapitation...just to make sure. (Point of stupidity, if you wanted to be decapitated to see if you were still alive, wouldn't that put a frown on the whole idea if you were actually still alive? ...Can you say, "Ooops!")
...that allot of ideas from horror movies were taken from real cases of live burials? For example; Dracula's stake-through-the-heart bit. This was actually done in some cases as a way to 1 - ensure that they were really dead & not bury them alive. And 2 - Some religions actually insisted on it because some believed it would keep them in the ground & prevent them from becoming the undead or a zombie. Some cultures actually believed that if a body was buried face down, they wouldn't be able to rise as the undead.
...that even autopsies performed today, when internal organs and/or the brain is removed for inspection or analysis, that sometimes they are not put back in? They sometimes use a filler so the chest doesn't appear collapsed. And if the organs are put back in, sometimes they are not put back in their original place. Some M.E.s and other employees in the field will just dump them back in and sew them back up. (Not everyone does this. So don't all you M.E.s and morticians email me if you're offended by this. Two of my own grandfathers were morticians, and I have total and great respect for the funeral industry.)
...that from the 1500's to the early 1900's, there was a shortage of cadavers for medical studies? Some professors would hire transients or other low-lifes to steal fresh bodies from cemeteries in order to study and practice embalming and autopsy procedures.
...that since the 1970's, embalming procedures and techniques haven't changed much at all? Only the tools and chemicals used have.
...that unlike the movies, caskets are not always placed in the ground by themselves? Sometimes they are placed in a 6-8 inch concrete vault and sealed with a heavy concrete lid . Before vaults, wooden caskets wood rot and weaken from the weight of the damp earth (dirt) and collapse. This proved helpful with exhumation, also. The vaults protected the caskets, so if a body needed to be exhumed for DNA analysis, the body was guarantee to be there. Some cemeteries require vaults, some do not. It all depends on the quality ground the cemetery was built on, and some city area ordinances.
...that when you buy clothes from a funeral home, that most of them have no backs? If you could roll the body to it's side, they would be nude in the back. They have ties or snaps to hold the garment on and in place. Because of the initial stiffness of the body, it is sometimes hard to dress them in "normal" clothes. Even if you provide clothes for your loved one, unfortunately, the backs might need to be cut and removed in order to dress the deceased.
...that unless you provide socks and shoes to the funeral home, you most likely will be buried barefoot? It's true, although allot of funeral homes have burial footwear for you to buy if you wish.
most of this ppl know.. but for those of you who dont.. i always find this stuff intersting..