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For more information about eReserves please contact[email protected]The material following this cover page is protected by copyright and is madeavailable to you pursuant to the Centennial College Fair Dealing Policy. This copymay only be distributed in a password-protected environment such as eCentennialand only for the students enrolled in the course listed. The use of this copy for anyother purpose may require the permission of the copyright owner.COMM 170.Mitford, J.(2000). Excerpt: The story of service. InThe American way of death:Revisited(pp. 43-51). Vintage Books.
The StoryofServiceof the United States whoismore than two hours away from alicensed funeral director and embalmer. That's onethateventhe fire-fighting apparatus of our country cannot match.While the hit-or-miss rhetoric of the foregoingisfairly typical oftheprose styleofthe funeral trade as a whole, and while the state-ment thatI20man-hours are devoted to a single funeral may be opentoquestion, there reallyisa fantastic amountofservice accorded thedead body and its survivors.Having decreedwhatsort of funeralisright, proper, and nice, andhaving gradually appropriated to himself all the functions connectedwith it, the funeral director has become responsible for a multitude oftasks-beyond the obvious one of "placing corpse in the coffin"recorded inournineteenth-century funeral bill. His self-imposedduties fall into two main categories: attention to the corpse itself, andthestage-managingofthe funeral.The drama begins to unfold with the arrival of the corpse at themortuary.Alas, poor Yorick!Howsurprisedhewould be to see how hiscounterpartoftodayiswhisked off to a funeral parlor andisin shortorder sprayed, sliced, pierced, pickled, trussed, trimmed, creamed,waxed, painted, rouged, and neatlydressed-transformedfrom acommon corpse into a Beautiful Memory Picture. This processisknown in the trade as embalming and restorative art, andisso uni-versally employed in the United States and Canada that for years thefuneral director did it routinely, without consulting corpse or kin. Heregards as eccentric thosefewwho are hardy enough to suggest thatit might be dispensed with.Yetno law requires embalming, no reli-gious doctrine commends it, norisit dictatedbyconsiderationsofhealth, sanitation,oreven of personal daintiness.Innopart of theworld but inNorthAmericaisit widely used. The purpose ofembalmingisto make the corpse presentable for viewingina suitablycostly container;andhere too the funeral director routinely, withoutfirst consulting the family, prepares the body for public display.Isall this legal? The processes to which a dead body maybesub-jected are, after all,tosome extent circumscribedbylaw.Inmoststates, for instance, the signature of nextofkin mustbeobtainedbefore an autopsy maybeperformed, before the deceased maybe43
THEAMERICANWAYOFDEATHREVISITEDcremated, before the body may be turned overto

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Term
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Master Jones

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