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Funeral Home Embalmer Reveals What Really Happens To Your Body When You Die

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100Level, Nigeria.
A funeral service operator has revealed what happens to your body when you die.
It's not the topic that's regularly talked about, but for some people, death is their life.
Funeral service operative and trainee embalmer Cari Vaughan has been working at Coop funeral care for 14 years.
Caring and preparing the deceased before the funeral is her job.
These duties include anything from washing, curling and straightening hair, to doing up make up, nails, clothes and setting people's features by closing their eyes and mouth.
She told Wales Online : "It's very satisfying in the way that you make someone look presentable for their loved ones to come and see them."
What happens when a body first arrives?
When a deceased person arrives at the mortuary they will be taken into the arrivals room by ambulance crews on a stretcher.
"Everyone is transferred from the stretcher to the tray, where they are undressed - we make sure that they are clean and tidy.
"We have facilities to wash," Cari said.
How is a body stored and what happens to it then?
The body is then put inside a refrigerated unit. These are kept between 4 and 6 degrees celsius for up to 24 hours. There are various sized units depending on the size of the deceased.
The body is then taken to the embalming theatre. Embalming is a process of preserving a body to delay the natural break down of cells.
The embalming process involves draining and replacing body fluids which are no longer circulating around the body, with a mixture of preserving chemicals.
Embalming temporarily delays the first stages of decomposition, which begin to break down our body tissues from the moment that we die.
It can also seem to restore our physical appearance. After this process, the body is then taken to the chapel where family can visit.
How are the families involved?
Not all families choose to have their loved ones embalmed.
There's also a family wash room where people can go to wash and prepare the deceased themselves.
The room is often used by people of different faiths, although it has also been used by anyone who wishes to do the hair or nails of their loved ones themselves.
What's it like working with dead bodies?
Cari, 38, from Briton Ferry said she treated every person as if they were a member of her own family - something she said everyone at the facility did.
She added: "I have never been creeped out by it, I won't say that I've been through the whole of my career without being fazed as you wouldn't be human if you didn't.
"I have dyed ladies' hair before because they wouldn't want to have roots, I've never tanned anyone but I do their nails and place jewellery and clothes on them.
"We use different make up because your skin is different from when you are living from when you are deceased.
"Working with naked bodies is just one of those things, it's part of the job."
People often request to have various items inside a loved one's coffin .
At first Cari found the change from working as a funeral arranger to a funeral service operative difficult.
"Before I was only ever dealing with people who had been through the process and had been kept in a temperature controlled room unit, when I came into contact with them they were always cold.
"Now, when you are attending people straight after death, for example in a nursing home, they still feel warm which I found strange," she said.
Staff also have to work with the living
Kimberley Hampton-Evans, who is also from Briton Ferry, is a care logistics manager at the company. Part of her job is look after the deceased's loved ones.
"The key thing for us is that we don't treat the dead any differently to how we would treat the living. It's someone's mum or child, they are a person.
"Very rarely do we say no to what the family ask for. If the experience is going to be distressing for the family then we would advise against doing it. For example, if there's been a road traffic accident and there had been significant damage to their face, meaning it wasn't possible for us to do anything to minimise the damage.
Cari Vaughan is a funeral service operative
But one of the hardest things is dealing with children
"It's extremely hard with children, it never gets easier, it's the most awful experience. The fridges for children have a panel for the dignity of the child and it's also distressing to see children.
"Families don't see what we do back of house. We would love people to see what we do as the care we offer at this facility is second to none." she said.
What definitely doesn't happen there
Kimberley admitted there were lots of myths and horror stories surrounding mortuaries.
"People think you cremate more than one deceased at a time but that's not true."
She said the skin of a dead person was the same colour as when they were alive.
"It varies on the person, they are people and their bodies will react in different ways, the same way they do in life.
"People tend to think that once someone has died they are treated like nothing which isn't the case at all.
They say one of the hardest things is dealing with children (Image: Jonathan Myers)
"Because this industry is not talked about, people's imaginations just run wild," she explained.
Cari has also been asked questions about things people think happen there.
"When I first started people would say, 'do you take people out of their coffins when you cremate them', which you don't.
"People say how do you do the job, it's just something that I'm interested in. I have friends who are nurses and they say to me how do you do your job, and I say exactly the same to them."
Any last requests?...
When it comes to funerals, people often request to have various items inside a loved one's coffin.
"We have had a couple ask if they could put their mobile phone in the coffin which we can't because of cremation and the metal," Kimberley said.
"One person also had a pool cue in their coffin. We rarely say no, we just advise - but we are wary if people want to put money in, so we have to say no to that," she added.

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