Care for a Corpse (Gemilut Chasadim) Flowers (Cornovirus)


Readers of ethics and Jewish ethics, in particular, should recognize in the remarkable story about this woman and this powerful act of caring for a corpse one of the greatest acts of kindness marked in rabbinic sources that one person can do for another.

A few days a week, a woman arrives at the Metropolitan Plant and Flower Exchange — a squat, lime-green bunker along Route 17 North in Paramus, N.J. They know her there by her hospital scrubs.

She picks up her standing order: yellow daffodils. If there aren’t any daffodils, she’ll take carnations — yellow, please. That’s the most important part — bright yellow.

She brings the flowers with her to work at Hackensack University Medical Center. They aren’t for her office. They’re not for co-workers or patients. She carries them out back and walks into a parking garage.

Her name is Tanisha Brunson-Malone, 41, a forensic technician at the hospital’s morgue. She performs autopsies and oversees funeral home pickups of patients who have died.


Ms. Brunson-Malone enters each trailer and walks the aisle between the rows, pausing at each new body bag. There, she carefully places a flower on top [of each body bag].

“One or two, it depends on how many flowers I have,” she said. “Sometimes I run out. I’ll go after work to go pick up more flowers. I know in the morning I’ll need more.”

[read more here]

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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