SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Dark Times, Alcoholic Blackout Embalming

By Bob Weaver

Alcoholics-addicts practice extreme forms of conscious denial to protect their need to use (lies), added to the mix is an array of delusional beliefs (believing the lies) and dangerous exercises.

This story is added to aptly disclose my dark life and times as a practicing alcoholic, now sober 43 years.

Alcoholics experience black-outs, periods of loss of consciousness, sometime lasting a few hours, where they continue to perform normal duties, converse, drive automobiles, and perform complex tasks. Blackouts are high-risk times for things to go terribly wrong.

During the final years of my alcoholic life, it was not uncommon to lapse into a blackout, drive long distances or performing skill-based tasks, including the embalming of the deceased as a mortician. Alcoholic surgeons have been known to complete complicated surgeries.

Perhaps my most notable blackout happened while working as a embalmer for the Carl Wilson Funeral Home in Clay.

It was a quiet Saturday night in the early 1970s, a time to begin some serious imbibing. Carl Wilson had left town and I was in charge, and by 11 p.m. I was seriously drunk and ready for bed.

The unthinkable began to happen. People starting dying and funeral home employees went on the road to pick-up the remains of five people.

Rousted, I went to the embalming room, likely continuing to drink, to commence the embalming task in a blackout, continuing into the early morning hours. No recollection, finally crashing into a bed.

Wilson returned from his trip Sunday to walk through the basement and embalming room, to discover bodies on stretchers and embalming tables. I will spare you his comments on the condition of the embalming room.

Years later, Wilson seemed to enjoy telling a story about the event, when I was a sober man.

Despite the place being in a mess, Wilson said, "I've never seen more perfectly embalmed bodies in my life and wonderment still exists how a highly drunk man could do such a thing."

If one ever thinks being an alcoholic represents anything close to having a normal life, they're wrong.

An Oath taken by professional embalmers is to always treat human remains with dignity, an oath that I lived by.

I ended my career as a mortician in 1979 as a sober man, and then embarked in a long career of starting treatment centers and helping alcoholics-addicts in West Virginia and Ohio.