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Submitted on
April 21, 2013
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(Contains: ideologically sensitive material)
Before this past week, I wore masks to entertain myself. I found them fun and I liked the look and feel of most masks. The reasoning behind why I wear masks now is quite different from then. I work at a funeral home. I need to get 60 hours in before they can consider hiring me. I don't mind the work. I'm there to observe and do the things no one else wants to. Wash the hearse, sweep the back garage, that sort of thing.

Last Friday, I observed an embalming for the first time.

I noticed the smell before I noticed the body, he had been dead a day.
The man they were embalming was 86, and died of cancer. He had a large tumorous growth in his stomach, his skin was stretched taunt over his ribs. The report said he used to be a big man, but there was little left of him. They sprayed him with disinfectant, washed his mouth out, his nose and ears. And then, they made the first cut.

It was no big deal at first, when something graphic pops up, I tend to numb out, shut down my emotions for the ordeal, which I did. He looked for the jugular vein and the main artery in the neck. I forget what it's called. At any rate, he found the artery with no trouble, but he couldn't find the vein. He attempted to start the process, as that sometimes pressurizes the vein and makes it easier to find.

The man started to leak embalming fluid all over the embalming table. At the time, I didn't react. The man embalming, my boss, found the leak and winched it off. It was another artery, that he had ruptured while searching for the vein. He had to resort to use the main vein located in the leg for what he called "Drainage".
So the process went on, and after awhile, crimson blood flowed from the man's open leg wound. At one point I had to hold the dead man's leg up. His skin felt like a cool, smooth cloth.

There was something wrong, the pressure wasn't enough to drain properly. so my boss and an assistant  started a procedure I don't quite understand. Soon they freed a clot from his neck the size of my thumb.

At that point, the blood really started to pour.

This is what struck me the most. Here were my co-workers. My friends. I knew they were good people. They each had a family of their own, they each had normal lives. And here they were, cutting into this man, not even dead a day, getting aggressive and forceful (I remember my boss tearing the leg wound wider with his fingers at one point) and yelling and cheering when he bled. At one point the blood came out in spurts, that image will never leave my mind.

I know its their job, I know they were trained to do it... But the change they went through to do that process... terrified me.
When I got home, I stared at myself long and hard in the mirror, and I was so disgusted at the fact that I had watched such a thing, so disgusted at myself... I couldn't stand to look at that face in the mirror another second.

Since then, I feel stomach sick without my mask. I feel anxious, and my face itches. I never want to go back to that building again, but I still have to finish 46 more hours of work.

So, now you know why I wear a mask.
This was in my journal section, and i thought ide put it as a deviation as well. This is a true story, every word of it.

EDIT: THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! i never thought ide get a DD!
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Daily Deviation

Given 2013-05-25
~MyMasks takes us somewhere we don't want to be, tells us something we don't generally want to know the details about, and shows us the dehumanizing actions and decisions made behind an embalming that didn't work out correctly. Why I wear a mask is written excellently with an increasingly detached voice. Trigger Warning: Contains blood and graphic descriptions. ( Featured by Nichrysalis )
a) Congratulations on the DD. This work is an insight into a place few see.
b) Do the colleagues you mention also work with the deceased's families? How are they then? How are they about the families when the families aren't there?
c) I believe the word you were looking for is 'carotid'.

So you wear a mask to hide from yourself? That's one pursuer you can never shake. You have chosen a very difficult profession, one that might lead to some differences in how you treat the living versus how you treat the dead. The job carries stresses I for one can't imagine facing.
MyMasks Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
a) Thank you :)
b) My boss, well the boss i had up until i quit, is very well known around town. He is also the main embalmer. As he put it, when its someone he knows, he tends to tune out, not look at their face, and "get the job done"
c) thank you, again :3

And yes, i know. Ive gotten better, as i can look at myself in the mirror some days, but there are o9thers i stilll need the mask to bring down my stresses
BatmanWithBunnyEars Featured By Owner May 28, 2013   General Artist
This was very moving. I felt genuinely sad for the dead guy, which is amazing since I don't even know his name or his face. I think it was the mention of all his body parts - his ears, his leg, etc., because that kept reminding me that he'd never get to use those parts again.
MyMasks Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad it touched you the way it did. It was a very impactful event in my life.
amextris Featured By Owner May 26, 2013  Student General Artist
that was..interesting.
honestly. I liked it.

and now, I'll take a moment to wonder why this doesn't disturb me, just like watching someone get shot in the head in a history documentary didn't disturb me.

MyMasks Featured By Owner May 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Who knows, but I'm glad you enjoyed it.
amextris Featured By Owner May 26, 2013  Student General Artist
It was very well written, in my opinion :D and congrats on the DD
MyMasks Featured By Owner May 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks :)
amextris Featured By Owner May 26, 2013  Student General Artist
You're welcome C:
keidream Featured By Owner May 25, 2013
I know it's not hurting anyone, but to be able to perform those actions without hurting yourself, you really have to distance yourself from the situation. I think it might have some dehumanizing effects, and you should consider whether that's really something you're willing to risk.
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