Once you get towards the end of your training to become a Funeral Director, and you get into the hands on aspect of the profession,
you start to hear the horror stories from other Directors who have been in the trade for a few years.
Bodies mangled in car wrecks, suicide victims found in their homes discovered only after they had started to stink, and anytime you have to prepare children.
All those gruesome stories but there is always one thing that every single Director will tell you. *You’ll never forget the smell of the first burn victim you have to work on*.
It was about five months after becoming certified and taking the position of Director at the Funeral Home located in the town I grew up in before I had to work on my first burn victim.
I made my way down to the morgue to start preparing the corpse.
I braced myself before unzipping the body bag, waiting for my first whiff of the smell that I was told would haunt me for the rest of my days.
As soon as the aroma hit my nostrils I was overcome with a single thought. Marinated pork chops cooked on the grill. I couldn't believe myself.
The smell and the thought of the sizzling meat turned me into Pavlov’s dog. I had to wipe my mouth to keep my saliva from dribbling out.
I did my best to push that image of the tender, juicy, savory meat cooking out of my head. I couldn't shake it.
Even after pulling the corpse out of the body bag and arranging my instruments to begin my work, it was still all I could think about.
Almost as if under some spell I picked up the scalpel and sliced into the thigh of the charred corpse. I don't know if the other Directors were right when they said I would never forget the smell.
I know with absolute certainty that I'll never forget the taste.