Thanatopractor for years, the Frenchman Olivier Emphoux is what everyone calls an embalmer. However, in this profession, already self-designated as dark, Olivier says that in his professional career, he has sometimes found himself confronted with phenomena that are more than questioning. Olivier will publish a book (In French) in 2015: “Entre mes mains : Confidences d’un embaumeur” (In My Hands: Confidences of an Embalmer). The Hellystar team wanted to know more about this character who breaks the codes of silence (especially in this closed profession). Note, that a number of interviews have already spoken several times, with focus, on the thanatopractor profession, we have decided to see a little more clearly on Olivier Emphoux’s personal visions.
Olivier, this interview is designed to show that in professions “that are often mentioned”, there can be extraordinary things to tell. We also want to expose your “intimate” vision of the unexplainable. Can you introduce yourself and your profession in a few lines?I was born on July 8, 1961, and very early on I was asked a question: what is death? That was the starting point of my whole life. I started from a very simple premise: I had to work in the profession closest to the deceased in order to be able to realize the reality of death, there was in my opinion only the profession of embalmer or thanatopractor. Interrupting my law studies, I joined a funeral home company as a gravedigger, porter and then became an thanatopractor after training. The thanatopractor, by injecting formalin diluted in water, delays decomposition and allows the deceased to keep the appearance of sleep until the coffin is closed. He is in charge of cleaning, dressing and presenting the deceased to the families. Sometimes in accidents he can restore the face, do it all or part of it from photos. I have worked in France, England and then all over the world since the earthquake in Haiti as a research embalmer. I continued to travel for the conservation of deceased people, human remains in airplane accidents, other earthquakes, tsunamis etc. An embalmer spends most of the time with the deceased. From the beginning of my professional career, I have witnessed paranormal phenomena that are as sudden and cruel as they are unpredictable. Only the years have allowed me to get used to it and to evolve in harmony with it. Everything you will read in this interview, I have experienced. I have not researched books or exchanged ideas: I am the one who saw in the very heart of death as an embalmer.
In the various testimonies that you yourself have narrated, you explain that you have seen, what the world, defined as paranormal phenomena; can you give us examples?One day, I was finishing my work at a deceased’s home. In his room when I had finished dressing him, I turned my back on him to take an instrument out of one of my work cases, and turning around I saw the body of the deceased rising gradually from the bed, for the first time in my life without any warning signs I was witnessing a levitation. It is very difficult to bear because this phenomenon where a body of about 80 kg that silently lifts up hits you. Fear and the heart start to overreact. Above all, I didn’t dare to move for fear that if I moved I could have interfered with what I saw and which was completely beyond me. On another occasion, I was with two porters in the house of a newly deceased person, placing the coffin in the living room to prepare for the deceased’s burial. As there was no longer any electricity (cut off via the circuit breaker by the family due to the vacancy), we brought flashlights to see. As we had just delicately placed the deceased in the coffin, the chandelier began to sizzle, light up and then go out several times. There was this television on a piece of furniture that was turned on to a TV news channel. It lasted a minute and then the black came back. We were stunned all the more because the power had been cut off by the circuit breaker, and we later learned that the electricity supplier had cut off the power supply to this house. Last example: there was this deceased man I couldn’t approach him, I couldn’t touch him because I would have burned myself, the body temperature had risen so quickly in a few seconds that if I had touched him I would have had very serious burns. This body showed me that it didn’t want me to touch it.
While you have been practicing this profession for more than 30 years, it is certain that you are not paying attention to discover this kind of phenomenon before practicing the embalmer’s profession. If you had to start your life over again, would you reproduce the same acts by knowing in advance, the “things” you could see there (paranormal domain)?When I started in the funeral field, I didn’t know if I would be able to work as an embalmer because I only knew that it existed without knowing the reality and harshness of the profession. And even more so I couldn’t imagine what I was going to witness, it was a huge bet on the future. It took me months, years to become familiar with these paranormal manifestations that appear in contact with the deceased. To answer the question, I would not have reproduced the same acts and positioning of my mind in phase with this part of death. Experience and hindsight would allow me to advance even further in spiritual knowledge. Everything is evolution, I have only one human life and I have to deal with it.
Tell us about the strange experience that has marked you the most in your thanatopraxy career.One of the strangest experiences that has marked me to date actually goes back to my early days. My director had asked me to go to the morgue of a big city to get a brother and a sister, to dress them and put them in their coffins so that they could be taken to the cemetery by hearse for burial. The coffins were not very large. The younger brother was not 10 years old and his older sister was not much older. I was the only one driving the hearse, the family having preferred to take their cars and go straight to the cemetery. On the way there was a moment when I heard the screams of children screaming in the hearse’s cabin. Immediately I stopped the hearse to go to the back of the vehicle and take a look. Naturally, I approached the coffins with the idea that these two children were not actually dead (even though the doctor had issued the death certificate after an examination). I was trembling with fear, for me from the screams, the children were not dead and I could still hear them screaming, but all of a sudden, no more noise. Then I decided to put my ear against the antlers of one of the coffins thinking I would catch a movement, even a light one, a breath, so I stayed for a long time. Feeling and hearing nothing, I closed the back of the vehicle and left. After 10 minutes the screams started screaming again in the passenger compartment. Everything raised the question of how these children died. The story is that their mother had tied them to the back of her vehicle with seat belts, and to see if they could swim, threw her vehicle into a river adjacent to the road.
What was your state of mind at that time, and what did you think it would be like right now?From a quietude I went on to a total fright and fear: hearing the screams of children who were found dead, who had to be dressed, and putting them in coffins is something unbearable to bear. In fact, I wasn’t thinking about anything earthly, in a matter of seconds I fell into emotional hell.
Then we talk about life after death, a world after our lives or the spirit world. Why did you classify what you saw in this part of the paranormal? When did you decide not to be rational anymore?Since the beginning, I have always been in the habit of remaining in an objective attitude without bias, without wanting to give an interpretation, especially of phenomena that I describe as paranormal, from another universe. I am the privileged witness of something that is beyond me because I am alive. This classification makes it possible to synthesize an approach to what can happen in contact with the deceased that cannot be seen elsewhere. It is very important not to describe as paranormal phenomena facts that are in fact logical and normally derived from a human body that has ended its earthly life. Death does not begin with heart failure but long after, and life has never begun with the cry of the newborn but well before conception between a man and a woman.
During your activity, and even before you encountered inexplicable facts, what was your vision of the paranormal world in its simplest form?When I started out, I had no knowledge of the embalmer’s trade. In truth, I didn’t even know if I would be able to work as an embalmer and even less if I would witness paranormal phenomena, at that point it was the absolute unknown.
And today, after sharing your experience with many others and unveiling your career, is this vision still the same? If not, what has changed?My vision of death in all its scope (such as irrational phenomena that revolve around the bodies of the deceased) is no longer the same as it was at the beginning. In fact, I am no longer the same human being. My name is just Olivier Emphoux, but the human being I am is no longer the same on the spiritual side, on his ability to look death in the face. I am the embalmer to whom the equivalent of a small town of 20,000 dead human beings passed through his hands. How when I pushed the door of this funeral home on April 5, 1988, for my first day of work, I would have known that 30 years later I would have cared for more than 20,000 people to date, it is not in the human mind. I have cared for all these beings with the greatest compassion. I helped the families who, too busy crying, did not see that their loved one expected something from her, did not see that their deceased was manifesting himself to their lifeless bodies to send them messages, I was the receiver of all this.
If you had to add up all your paranormal experiences, what did you get out of it as an individual?After having lived all these paranormal experiences I feel more in harmony with these invisible universes that go beyond human understanding. It is easy for me to evolve in osmosis with, without dissonance in the communication of the afterlife. I see through the eyes of death. The experience of communication and the experience, allow me to say I am one of them. It took courage at the beginning and obstinacy over the years, and it was only after taking care of all these people that I finally came to my senses, to know what death is and its derivatives from paranormal manifestations in contact with the deceased. I must add that these irrational manifestations represent only 5 to 7% of all the deceased I have had to deal with. To this day I am 58 years old, I still have quite a few years left, to give back to others what we have as knowledge for evolution.
Last simple question: 1 word to define your life ?Privileged
The book (in french) “In My Hands: Confidences of an Embalmer” by Olivier Emphoux by Annette Geffroy at Editions de Monseny is available on Amazon, Priceminister and at Les Editions de Monseny. Thank Olivier for giving his time for this Hellystar interview. Crédit-Image à la une (portrait) : Le Parisien / Matthieu de Martignac