Dressing Bodies

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Well today I had a first experience. I got to dress a woman who had passed away. The family had requested that I do it… apparently she had requested it before she died. I didn’t realize I had left such a lasting impression on her. I was very honoured but I have to admit it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Well maybe not THE most difficult but definitely right up there with leaving a child at the MTC. Being the perfectionist that I am, it took me forever to get things just right. I kept thinking of how I would want my clothes on. I am sure the funeral home staff must have wondered who I was talking to as they could hear me rambling on but it made it less “freaky” if I kept on a conversation like she could actually answer back.

It’s not an experience I want to repeat any time soon let me tell you but it has made me change a few things in my “to do” list of things that I want done when I die. I know that the Spirit leaves the body when a person dies but I have to wonder if It hangs around the actual body cause I would swear I felt her near and around me, comforting me like I was the one that this had happened to. Any thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Dressing Bodies

  1. Mum

    Wow, what a powerful experience that must have been. I thought it was the RS president’s job? I suppose they can ask any endowed member though. Thanks for sharing this, that’s one of my fears that one day I would have to do it and I would have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO! Now, if it happens, I can ask you.

  2. yes it did.. as it was way easier moving her body from side to side knowing how to lift and move.. you just don’t realize how heavy and unyielding a body can be.. very solid.. so was able to roll her to get her clothes underneath… I also knew that openings tend to “leak” and the mortician was very surprised when I asked for cloths to put in her underwear saying oh no everything has been cleaned.. sure as shooting when I went to roll her, it was wet and dirty underneath…. something the family should not have seen.

    I was able to somewhat detach myself from the emotions because I had cleaned so many bodies and gotten them ready for the ME offices before but this was the first one I had ever done that was an endowed member and to dress her in her temple clothing knowing she was protected by the Priesthood was a very very humbling experience.

    And yes normally it is the RS Pres that does it but the family specifially asked for me and I wasn’t about to say no. I learnt that you dress them the same exact way as you dress in the temple. I did not know that before. Other then being in the temple I don’t think I have ever felt the Spirit right beside me more strongly as I did today.

  3. Sally, one of my best friends dressed her brother for his funeral and she also swears his spirit was in the room and watching her and feeling sad for her because she was deeply grieving. I think you are probably right about feeling this woman’s spirit beside you.

  4. My sister and I also felt comforted as we dressed our mother in temple clothes for burial. Although we were grieving, we were also grateful, because Mother had been suffering from Alzheimer’s, and we felt she had at last been freed from a burden which she had endured well. It seemed very natural to speak to her as though she were with us in the room. We were awkward, and grateful for the help of a funeral parlor employee with some of the lifting.
    At one point we realized we had put her slip on backwards, and had to replace it. We actually felt okay mingling laughter with our tears as we asked her forgiveness for the error. “Sorry about that, Mother! We’ll get it right!” It was as though we were engaged in an important project, and feeling great love for each other as we worked together. We felt so much gratitude for all the years of her doing for us, her daughters–all the diaper-changing, the sewing of lovely dresses, the thousands of meals prepared, the hours of emotional support she had given us.
    It was a privilege to be able to perform this one last service for her as she ended her mortal probation.

  5. I plan to dress my mother when she dies, although at this rate she may never die, long story.

    But I think I will consider it an honor. At any rate, I’m glad for the warning about the cloths.

    The hardest part for me handling my deceased loved ones’ bodies has been the coldness, the utter lack
    of life, of suppleness. I didn’t get to see my older son until two days after he’d died and it was just awful. I didn’t know what I know now.

    When I took my young daughter to see her brother, my younger son, who she’d idolized, I was mindful of this and more careful.

    We did feel the spirit. I remember the spirit being very strong when I first saw his body, although my anguish was stronger.

    I would consider this type of service to be a sacred privilege.

  6. annegb

    Oh I am so sorry about the loss of your children. It truly must have been so hard to see them gone from you. It is a blessing to have the Spirit near, I think it’s important.

    I think the Spirit is very strong and there are other spirits also present at death and at birth. Two great passages in life.

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