Ever heard of extreme embalming? Well, it is a practice which originated in Puerto Rico, where the deceased are posed to appear like they are alive. Mostly the pose and the way they dress usually reflect on who they were.
The practice began when the late boxer, Christopher Rivera who posed in a fake ring in 2014. After that, the number of extreme embalming has gone up notably in New Orleans.
New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling usually hosted some parties. At one party, almost precisely the same as the one she used to throw, she was propped with a cigarette between her fingers, and she was sitting in her signature feather boa. They also put a glass of champagne in one of her hands. One could have sworn she was alive and was sleeping or maybe she had just passed out from drinking.
It had been Mickey’s wish to be a hostess at one more part, and she mentioned to her daughter that she wanted her memorial to be a celebration which will stick in people’s memories for a very long time.
Her daughter, therefore, made arrangements with the funeral director Patrick Schoen. He posed Easterling on a bench making her look like she was asleep. Everyone was astonished at the setting, and it sure was remembered for a long time.
Another example is the wake of Renard Mathew. He died at 18-years-old from a gunshot. The fellow was a video game lover and, therefore, when it came to his memorial, his family had him propped, sitting on an office chair with a controller in his hand. In front of him was a TV playing NBA2K, probably his favorite video game. He was in a Celtics #11 jersey, which was because he had been a big fan of Kyrie Irving.
The practice is getting more and more frequent, and Burbank’s daughters also felt their mother deserved a memorial before sending her off. They propped their mother, sitting at a table, dressed as she used to and a cigarette between her fingers. They also painted her nails to honor New Orleans Saints.
There have been many more cases of extreme embalming, for example, Fernando de Jesus who was propped in the way he used to sit, Jomar Aguayo seated at his mother’s bar while playing Dominoes and many others.
However, the big question is, is the practice legal? According to Washington Post, Puerto Rico Department of Health and the House of Representatives have been looking into the issue. The Funeral Home Owners Association has mentioned that extreme embalming is sacrilegious and should not go on.
However, even after the association declared the practice illegal, there have been no signs to show that it is reducing. People have continued with it, and in fact, the number seems to be going up.
Schoen seems to love the changing trend, and he has revealed that there are more requests from families of the deceased.
He also mentioned that for the first 120 years, out of the 144 that his family has been in the business of directing funerals, the ceremonies have always been the same. However, for the last 15 years, it is getting different, and he can make the memorials more about the deceased; what he liked doing, how he dressed and many other traits. He does not intend to stop with the extreme embalming any time soon.