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Modern Mummification

Even though mummification is nothing new, it may not easily grab a foothold in the funeral industry. The idea at first seems out of place in today’s society. However, people may come to find that it fulfills a certain need, and Summum feels that the time is fitting for the revival of this particular brand of corporeal conservation.

Unlike the mummification techniques used by ancient Egyptians, which left the dead shriveled, discolored, and ugly, Summum’s method is designed to keep you looking healthy and robust for millennia. The appeal may be to anyone who has labored to stay in shape. Why spend thousands of dollars in health club fees while you’re alive, then let everything go to pot just because you’ve died? Summum seems to encourage healthy living and physical fitness…. “I work out and eat right and take care of myself, and to just discard the body seems silly,” says Janet Greco, a nurse for the University of Utah Hospital.

But mummification is about more than the body, Corky Ra, founder of Summum, maintains. The mummified body can serve as a reference point for the disembodied spirit after death. It can prevent what may be considered “postmortem panic” and so enhance the odds of a favorable transition to a new life…

The mummification of a person is conducted at facilities in Boca Raton, while the mummification of animals is performed in Salt Lake City. To date, Ra and his team have mummified dogs, cats, and birds, but have yet to mummify their first person except in the case where they were developing the process. All of the people who have signed up for the procedure have made pre-need arrangements with Summum, and Ra says it is only a matter of time before their first “official” mummification.

Once the body is mummified, it can be placed in a standard casket or sealed inside a custom-crafted “Mummiform,” a quarter-inch-thick cast bronze shell molded in your likeness, welded shut around you, and elaborately decorated to your specifications. Kay Henry, a radio talk show host, wants her mummiform embossed with a radio microphone. Al Greco, a jack-of-all-trades, has considered engraving his mummiform with images of some of his favorite tools or etching it with a list of his toughest repair jobs.

But will Summum’s mummies last forever? “Not really,” answers Ra. “At some point in time, the sun will go nova and the planet will be destroyed.”

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