Hack hack (cough cough)

Yesterday I was called into help a director. They needed me to put some pens and notepads in boxes. Today, I got called in there again. “Do you want to shake or pour?”  They were standing next to a marble urn, and a bag of grey ashes.

…”…whichever one requires less experience?”

I poured the ashes of the deceased into the urn, pausing every few minutes while they picked it up, and shook it, to settle the ashes to make more room.  I’ve handled cremains before, but not one so full of white pieces – bone chunks, he confirmed. “They probably need a new blade on their macerator.”

There was a hole in the bag, and some dust poufed out, onto the towel beneath us, and onto my hands. “Huh,” I sort of…made a noise. As it so happened, I know the ex-husband of this particular decedent. And here she was…chalking up my hands, choking me with the dry dust.

Another director shared a story, about filling up a cremorial. Those are those plaques you see, on walls in cemeteries. Unscrew the plaque, insert box of cremains. Except where they worked, they had to actually pour the cremains into the receptacle.

Remember where I said, “…you see, on walls…?” They’re outdoors. Rain, snow, sleet…the cremains must be delivered. She was pouring one such into it’s final resting place, when a nice wind gusted up. “Oh,” the family remarked,”how lovely, a nice breeze…”

Meanwhile, the director is sputtering and choking on their dear father’s ashes, now scattered (free of charge!) in addition to being held in a cremorial.

“One day I’ll write a book.”  I’ve heard that a lot, in my years in the funeral business.  That’s what it needs, the Anthony Bourdain of funeral business, to write a scathing tell-all, behind the scenes peek…without all the good food, though. And sex. And good food.


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