What is thanatopraxy?

Thanatopraxy is the hygiene care and preservation of the body of the deceased. It aims to give a last beautiful image of the loved one and to give the family more time to mourn.

Thanatopraxy, also called embalming, the art of preservation or the hygiene care and presentation, involves two major manipulations.

The injection of an aseptic and preservative liquid into the entire arterial and venous vascular system and the thoracic and abdominal puncture of biological fluids. By osmosis, the preservative liquid, injected by arterial route, penetrates into the cells and delays their degradation.

A treatment, accompanied by a light and discreet make-up, is a temporary means of preserving a body in the best conditions until the funeral and allows the family to mourn without fear of degradation.

 

The History of Modern Embalming, France Culture, 5.12.2017


Why use Thanatorium?

The care of the deceased that I give is of high quality and goes beyond a simple mortuary cleansing. The practice of thanatopraxy requires specific theoretical and technical knowledge.

In order to present the deceased to his or her family, all resources are mobilised. At the end of a treatment, I can for example call in a hairdresser or a barber if necessary.
The colour or texture of the skin may change due to an illness. After an accident, a reconstruction treatment may be necessary. In all cases, a viewing must be offered because all families must be able to see their loved one, whatever the cause of death.

Some countries insist on embalment before a body can be repatriated. Below is a non-exhaustive list of such countries :

I intervene at the request of the family or the funeral home. The care can take place at the place of death, at home, in a care home, in hospital morgues or in the funeral parlour.


The rates?

The rates may vary depending on the distance I have to travel. They do not depend on the complexity of the care or the time I need to present the deceased to the family.

 


The Embalmer

Image

Myriame Marti was born in 1979.

After a commercial apprenticeship in a bank, she studied Social Sciences at the University of Lausanne. It is in the context of a course in anthropology that she had her first contact with the funeral field. In order to compare the different types of funeral rites performed in the world with those performed in Switzerland, Myriame Marti contacted several funeral companies in Lausanne. Deeply affected by this experience, she decided to do an internship at the end of her studies. It was during her internship at the Official Funeral Directors of the City of Lausanne, that she became totally conscious of her skill and attraction for the care given to the deceased and the support to bereaved families. She was then hired as an auxiliary in parallel to her teaching profession, and learned the basics of the profession of undertaker.

In 2016 Myriame resigned from teaching and started her own Marti Funeral Services. In 2017 she decided to specialize in thanatopraxia and undertook training in Geneva with Camille Béguin and in Germany at the VDT Deutsche Einbalsamierer e.V. from where she graduated. She is now a fully recognized thanatopractrice in Switzerland, Europe and internationally.

In 2018, she founded THANATORIUM. In 2019, Myriame Marti obtained the Federal Funeral Director’s Patent which enabled THANATORIUM to join the ASSF. as an active member. In 2020, she became instructor at the new French-speaking course for future Funeral Directors as well as for the course for “funeral planners” organized by the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne.


Testimonials

Diane Pellet, Romainmotier

When my mother died, I called on Thanatorium. I was very touched by Myriame’s warm and respectful approach, as well as by the quality of the preparation, right down to the smallest details - we are very sensitive at these moments. A care given with a lot of attention and thoughtfulness. I am very grateful.

Laura Proietti, Directrice des Pompes Funèbres Proietti

Ma Chère Myriame,

Ma confiance et ma considération indéniables en ton égard, proviennent de ton respect de ce monde « funèbre », qui peut paraître parfois lugubre pour le commun des mortels mais, qui par ta précision et tes soins ainsi que ton éthique de travail, devient enrichissant et bienveillant. Ce professionnalisme correspond parfaitement aux valeurs et à la philosophie que, comme tu le sais, j’impose dans mon entreprise.

Tu joues un rôle crucial dans l’étape si importante du dernier au revoir et lors de situations particulièrement délicates que nous avons déjà partagées, telles que, morts violentes ou risques accrus de l’altération physique et rapide du défunt, tu as toujours répondu à nos sollicitations de manière rapide et fiable et grâce à toi, nous atteignons des résultats indiscutables, confirmés et appréciés également des familles endeuillées.

Ton excellent travail contribue à la réussite de notre succès en te joignant à nos objectifs ; la consolation et l’apaisement des proches, en leur proposant une dernière image douce et digne de leur cher disparu (et n’oublions pas ô combien ce souvenir peut impacter le processus de deuil).

Ce sont des collaborateurs comme toi, qui permettent avec le temps et beaucoup d’implication, de changer les aprioris affectants notre métier. Merci donc, de nous offrir et partager tes compétences à chaque fois que nous faisons appel à toi pour tes très bons services.

Vincent Varlet, forensic doctor

As Head of the Swiss Human Institute of Forensic Taphonomy (SHIFT) at the Centre Universitaire Romand de Médecine Légale (CURML), I am developing training activities in funeral care for funeral directors.

Since 2020, I have enlisted the skills of Myriame Marti, a certified thanatopractor, as a practical trainer because of the quality of her work, her pedagogy and the professionalism she demonstrates towards funeral workers.

I am extremely satisfied with this collaboration and warmly recommend her services.

Silvia Munoz, Psychologist FSP, certified in Emergency Psychology

As an emergency psychologist I am constantly faced with death. Rather, it is a sudden, violent death that, by its sudden side, plunges loved ones into a terrible disarray. Part of our job is to support and help them to get through the immediate shock and realize that the person is actually dead.

This stage almost always involves confronting the body of the deceased.  A visit to the hospital, morgue or even the actual place of death, to experience the painful and even partial vision of the person’s body is important to start the mourning process. Occasionally we accompany them but most of the time our place is outside this intimacy. Systematically we encourage this passage and it is not uncommon for us to encounter initial resistance that later gives way. People are always relieved after making this first step. It should be remembered that in the past the dead stayed at home for several days and visitors were welcomed to say farewell. Death was part of life and the pain of loss was shared by the community.

Children, too, regardless of age, should be able to say goodbye to the deceased. However, this moment must be carefully prepared by the adults who will accompany them. They provide a factual account of how the person looks, the smell or even the texture of the skin if they want to touch the body. Contrary to popular belief a child is quite capable of going through this stage, his natural curiosity supports him and he will be grateful to you later in life for having taken him to see his loved one.

Even in the particular case of perinatal deaths, I have noticed that all mothers who have had time with their dead baby, hold him in their arms, talk to him before separation from him will be able to move better along the path of mourning. The very fact of keeping memories, photos, fingerprints, a lock of hair … any trace of the body is important for the future. Similarly, honouring the baby, giving it a name, a burial of some kind and including it in family history are all fundamental steps to prevent the loss of the child from haunting parents and family. Fortunately, in recent years, hospitals and attendants in this area have been sensitive and recognize the importance of these steps and will therefore encourage, facilitate and promote contact with the child before separating him from his parents.


Partners

Funeral photography, an ancient practice reintroduced by photographer Virginie Rebetez.

Raffaella Bassotto and her team of experienced hairdressers are available for specific hairdressing and beard trimming needs.

Deuil’S is a non-profit organization that brings together professionals who work around grief.

The Société d’Études Thanatologiques (The Society of Thanatological Studies) aims to connect people from different horizons who share an interest in thanatology. It weaves bonds between individuals, institutions, groups and associations who work around death, in Switzerland and abroad. The SET thus seeks to spread a knowledge that is deeply rooted in concrete practices and experiences. 


Media

Hautes fréquences, RSR, 13 juin 2021. Laurence Villoz a tendu le micro à Myriame Marti pour parler de l’aspect sacré de la thanatopraxie. L’anthropologue Marc-Antoine Berthod complète et enrichi les réflexions par son analyse.

Myriame Marti is one of the guest of Pauline Vrolixs in “Premier Rendez-vous”, RSR, 26 January 2021.

Dead Body - One last Beauty treatment. For the program Vacarme on the RSR, 17 February 2020, Bastien Confino follows the thanatopraxia treatment given by Myriame Marti to a deceased.

For the RSR’s program “This is Switzerland”, Virginie Gerhard followed Myriame Marti in a thanatopraxia treatment, 28 October 2019.

Myriame Marti talks about the profession of thanatopractrice in « Brise Glace » a podcast published by the newspaper Le Temps, 24 October 2019.

Myriame Marti is interviewed on the program “Forum”, Radio Suisse Romande, 17 October 2018.