Rhonda Pleasants, Funeral Director and Professor, spoke recently to our Sisters in Crime - Central Virginia writers' group.
Ms. Pleasants was a wealth of information about embalming, funeral services, religious and historic traditions, and burial services. She answered questions to help the writers get it right. For more information, she recommended The History of American Funeral Directors.
Here's a sample of what I learned:
- There are "green" burials and "green" cemeteries. The chemicals and burial devices are biodegradable and less chemical.
- All disinternments in Virginia have to have a permit.
- The cremation process is more than just an oven. If they have multiple cremations in a day, they usually start with the largest person.
- Funeral directors need to be familiar with a variety of religions and traditions.
- Mortuary makeup is like thick, theatrical make up. Makeup is often airbrushed on.
- They use wax to fill in holes (stab or gunshot wounds) for viewings.
- Caskets often come with memory drawers and time capsules.