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The Star: May 25, 2017

embalming - MACABRE OR

embalming - MACABRE OR FASCINATING IT’S NOT REALLY PART OF EVERYDAY CONVERSATION BUT HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT IT? ARE YOU GOING TO BE BURIED, CREMATED OR EMBALMED? As we head towards the last part of our lives certain aspects suddenly become more significant. What will happen to us when we’re ‘gone?’ Do we want to be buried, cremated, embalmed? Do we want our ashes scattered at sea, buried in a graveyard with a headstone or left in a cupboard at one of our off-spring’s homes? Ian Bell of Bell, Lamb Trotter says he always dreads it when people say they want the body removed and put straight in a casket. ‘I try to get them to see the person again. I explain to them how they will be dressed, with their features posed. It’s just a reaffirmation that the person is dead. If they’ve been in hospital it helps if they can see the person with all the tubes removed-at peace.’ He said it is amazing the number of people who say afterwards: Thanks, we’re glad we did that.’ He says: ’The therapeutic benefit is unbelievable. Counsellors emphasise that grief is not a state but a process, and viewing the body is part of the healing process. Anna Burbury was reluctant to see her mother embalmed and in a casket, but went along with the rest of the family not sure what to expect. ‘I’m so pleased I was dragged along, ‘she said. ‘She looked as though she was asleep. I thought we should be whispering in case we woke her up.’ She explained that she never saw her father after he died and has always harboured the vague feeling that maybe he was still alive somewhere. An embalmer explains the procedure. When the body reached the mortuary, while the clothing is being removed, the embalmer is doing a ‘case analysis’ estimating age, weight, state of nutrition, effects of disease, moisture content of tissue, scars or anything which might cause problems and assessing what sort of fluid they should use. The body comes with a death certificate, so the embalmer is generally aware of the cause of death. But all cases are treated as potentially infectious until the cause is known. Once undressed, the body and hair are washed. The features are then ‘set’ or ‘posed’-the mouth and eyes are closed. Often a single invisible stitch is used through the jaw to hold the mouth in place. Small plastic ‘eye caps’ are inserted under the eyelids to keep them closed and give a more natural look. ‘Mouth formers’ are used to replace false teeth, The above procedure takes place whether the person is going to be embalmed or not. Embalmers emphasis; ‘It gives them a bit more dignity.’ If the person is to be embalmed approximately eight litres of formaldehyde is injected into the artery and simultaneously replaces the blood. The body is then aspirated to remove all fluids, gases and semi solids, washed, disinfected, hair shampooed and dried, dressed and placed in a natural position in the casket. Clothing is generally supplied by the family. But funeral homes also stock items, if required. Mementos are often added-photos, wedding dresses, diving equipment-even surfboards and motor bike handles. Where necessary cosmetics are then applied. If the person has been ill, a little colour is added. The embalmer’s aim is to make the person as presentable and as normal looking as possible. Families often supply cosmetics, although mortuaries have their own supplies. The mortuary is the most expensive room in any funeral parlour, with the latest technical and surgical equipment. It closely resembles an operating theatre. The embalmers clothing also resembles hospital attire-green, blue or sometimes purple gowns, similar to surgeons, a disposable plastic apron, white gumboots , often two pairs of gloves and mask. Embalming is one of the longest practised arts-thought to have begun in Egypt in approximately 320BC. Macabre or fascinating-it is a process many of us are inevitably going to be part of. “ do we want to be buried, cremated, embalmed? do we want our ashes scattered at sea, buried in a graveyard with a headstone or left in a cupboard at one of our off-spring’s homes? ” To Gift Or Not To Gift? Words fleur mcdonald Gifting is allowed under the subsidy regime but under strict parameters. lifestyle/law i 6 For many of us, gifting and gifting programmes relate directly to the Family Trusts we have established to protect the assets we have built up over our lifetimes. When the Government abolished gift duty on 1 October 2011, many of us saw the ability to gift in bulk as very attractive, but there are many reasons why this may not be right for you. While the government has abolished gift duty as far as tax is concerned, the Ministry of Social Development (the “Ministry”), the government agency which administers the Residential Care Subsidy scheme (the “Subsidy”), has made it very clear that their gifting regime has not been abolished. In fact, the Ministry’s gifting regime is applied meticulously to every subsidy application. To give some background to the subsidy, as an individual, or a couple where both are in care, the Ministry regulations allow you to retain assets in your own name of $219,889. This asset threshold includes both real property (house and land) and personal property (cash and investments). If however, one of you is still living in the family home, you can choose to apply an alternate threshold where the family home and one vehicle are exempt. Be aware however that in this situation, the assets you are allowed to retain are set at a lower threshold of $120,416. Gifting is allowed under the subsidy regime but under strict parameters. If you gift over those parameters, the excess gifts will be added back into the Financial Means Assessment, which is used to assess your eligibility. Currently, gifts of $27,000 per year are allowed. The catch here is that this is not $27,000 per year, per person but $27,000 per year, per application, which includes both your assets and the assets of your spouse or partner. You are therefore able to gift at $13,500 each for a total combined annual gift of $27,000. You should also be aware that, in the five (5) years directly preceding a Subsidy Application, allowable gifting is reduced to $6,000 per application, per year. Please also note there are strong anti-avoidance provisions in the Social Security Act 1964 and attempts to dispose of or deprive yourself of assets which might have otherwise been available to pay for your care costs will be subject to rigorous scrutiny. Gifting in one lump sum to your trust may not be in your best interests. It may be that the best possible solution is to continue a gifting programme but at the reduced rate of $13,500 each so that your combined gifting comes within the Ministry’s regulations. Otherwise you run the risk that they Ministry will claw back gifting to such an extent that you fail the Financial Means Assessment and will not be eligible for assistance. At Harmans we understand that this may impact on you and we are happy to discuss your options with you. Give Fleur McDonald a call on 03 352 2293 to arrange an appointment to discuss your situation

7 I lIfestyle ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO DUST On the subject of death many of us are only too ready to believe any ghoulish story that comes our way. It is a sensitive issue that most people tend not to address until the decision is forced upon them. Warren and Mahoney: Harewood Memorial Gardens Crematorium Almost four out of five Christchurch people are cremated, but many misconceptions about the practice are still out there. No matter what shape, size or colour you are it is a sobering thought that if you choose to be cremated everyone will end up roughly the same weight-2.5kgs. Your final resting place may take the form of a green cremation ash box about a third the size of a shoebox (100 cubic cm), a powder coated metal container, an aluminium tin or a lavish wooden or ceramic urn. Cremation is an ancient custom, though not legalised in Britain until 1885, and only in 1963 did the Vatican deem it acceptable for Roman Catholics to be cremated. In the Western world there are only the Orthodox Jews, who believe a body should be buried within 24 hours of death and literal-minded religious groups such as the Exclusive Brethren, who do not condone the practice, believing a body cannot be resurrected from ashes. It is the task of the funeral director to organise for the casket to either be taken to the cemetery or the crematorium. At the crematorium on completion of the service, after everyone, including the funeral director has left, the casket ‘disappears’ behind the scene- but not directly into the cremation chamber, as many people believe. It is placed temporarily on a shelf, in the casket room at the rear of the building. If the service is to take place at the crematorium, the casket goes in the front door with pall bearers or is placed in advance on the catafalque in the chapel. On completion of the service the casket slowly ‘disappears’ behind the scenes. It does not go directly in to the cremation chamber as many believe, but is taken by a casket lift, or hand operated fork lift, and placed back on a shelf with other caskets. Subject to how many services are performed each day the casket is usually incinerated about 90 minutes after the service- definitely within 24 hours, as long as all the paper work is complete, and the medical referees’ permission has been given. Misconceptions abound about what happens ‘behind the scene.’ Caskets are only ever opened when requested by either the police or a doctor. The funeral director must then be on hand. Cremation staff are never present. Valuables such as jewellery or gold teeth aren’t removed, or even the ‘silver’ handles or plaques on the casket, which are in fact chrome-plated plastic. They melt along with the remains. How the mourners last see the coffin is how it enters the chamber. Gold and silver jewellery evaporate at 1054 degrees. The cremator can get up to 1200C in the lower chamber at the point of burning. The temperature is kept constant. Generally the casket and contents take one and half to two hours to be broken down to ashes. Ashes fall into three categories: Rubble, which consists of foreign objects such as metal pins, hip joints, nails, screws and metal belt buckles which don’t melt. Black ash, which is the casket residue. White ash, which is the human residue. The ashes are removed in a stainless steel pan, similar to a house ash pan, and after allowing them to cool for about 12 hours, they are then sorted. ‘Non person’ debris is disposed of into rubble containers. When only a small amount of black ash and 100 per cent of white ash remaining, the ash is then ground into a fine powder and placed in a cremation box. Here another misconception arises: Are these the correct ashes? Only one body is cremated at a time and in between each cremation the chamber is swept clean of any remaining residue. John Guthrey of Mainland Crematorium, who works closely with funeral directors says; “More and more people are having a direct cremation, without a funeral. This is a huge saving. once all the paper work is done it can cost around $2000. In this instance the funeral director takes the body straight from the home or hospital to the cremator.” Most cremation boxes are removed immediately to family plots or to be scattered in a variety of unusual places. Some boxes can remain at crematoriums for many years, although legally they can be disposed of after a year. On the subject of death many of us are only too ready to believe any ghoulish story that comes our way. It is a sensitive issue that most people tend not to address until the decision is forced upon them. But with prior deliberation and knowledge of procedure the task is made significantly easier. In fact many people are now prearranging and pre-paying for funerals and associated expenses. 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