Five Things I’ve learnt about caring for people who have died from working in a modern mortuary by Annika Caswell.

By Annika Caswell -  Specialist Bodycare Artist at Poetic Endings in London

By Annika Caswell -
Specialist Bodycare Artist at Poetic Endings in London

1. Seeing a person who has not been embalmed is not unhygienic, dangerous or illegal. In our experience, non-chemical and less intrusive alternatives can present the person who has died in a kinder and more natural way, often more closely resembling how they were in life.

2. No matter the circumstances of the person's death, there is always a way to spend time with the person who has died. Even if it is just to be in the same room with them with their coffin closed, or just to have their hand revealed. If being with them is something you want to do, do not take no for an answer. 

3. In our experience, nature takes its course differently for every person and presents, in turn, unique challenges to the mortuary team. Everyone has unique needs in terms of how much they want to know or not know about the preparations which may take place.

4. The majority of the products used in bodycare for the person who has died are the same as those used for the living. If the person had a favourite shampoo, nail polish or aftershave you absolutely can ask for those products to be used in their care.  

5. The human body is a profound vessel, and even though we may never understand what happens to 'us' when we die, the physical being we leave behind deserves and commands care and respect to the end. 

Annika Caswell

About Annika Caswell
Annika Caswell is a specialist bodycare artist working for Poetic Endings, a modern funeral directors in London. She has a long history of craftsmanship within the bespoke tailoring and couture industry but moved her skills to funerals after the profound experience of seeing her father sensitively prepared in his coffin. Annika balances her work life with painting and gardening and is a devoted mother to two Maine Coon cats.