“Time of death and effects of death on the body”

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“Time of death and effects of death on the body.” Forensics has always been a fascinating field of study to me. My elementary students seem to feel much the same way. They ask a lot of questions about death, perhaps it is because they find it difficult to talk to their parents about the topic. Sometimes younger children want to ask “death” questions at inappropriate or much too sensitive of times. A few years ago, I decided to call a former student, who is now our town mortician, and ask if I could bring my students for a funeral home “tour.” At the time, I was not sure how it would go over, but soon realized my students appreciated the chance to learn what really “goes on down there.” She begins by informing students about the education needed to be a mortician/funeral home director, ect. Then she discusses what happens to the body at the time of death. Students learn about rigor mortis, its cause, different stages of, and how long it lasts. They were surprised to learn it doesn’t last long and some people experience “strong rigor” and others “weak rigor.” The students then proceed to the embalming room where they learn a variety of facts; reasons for the procedure, contents of embalming fluid, and its effects on the body. The students also learn about the arteries of the body and how they are used to “push” the fluid through the body, after the blood has been “pushed” out. They are also told that red blood cells are the first to decompose and, therefore, the body must be cremated within 48 hours to avoid bacterial “action.” The students also learn about what happens to a body that undergoes an autopsy AND when they arrive at the funeral home, the PARTS are in a bag within the chest cavity. The organs must then be preserved by embalming fluid poured on and over them. This seems to always bother my students the most. They feel we should leave with this Earth with the same parts as when we arrived?

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