Embalming is usually performed when there is an open casket funeral, a viewing, or when a body needs to be shipped by plane, including internationally. It is typically done for three reasons – for sanitary reasons, for preservation and for presentation.
Contrary to popular beliefs, when a person dies, all living organisms within them do not also die – microorganisms can live on without them and oftentimes thrive and accelerate in growth. In many cases, these microorganisms can be contagious, and the embalming process will remove them. For this reason, any time a body will be shipped, it is mandatory to embalm for the safety of anyone coming in contact with the body. Similarly, if a viewing will occur, we strongly suggest embalming to ensure the safety of all in attendance at the funeral.
Embalming is also done for the preservation of the deceased. Decomposition begins at the moment of death; while embalming will not stop this, it will slow the process significantly. A funeral usually cannot be planned and occur within hours of death, so embalming allows time to make arrangements, gather family and friends, and prepare a suitable service.
Lastly, quality embalming allows the body to look natural. When you have a viewing, it is a chance to say parting words to the deceased; by having the deceased embalmed, they will look more like themselves, providing for comfort and closure for the service attendees.
Embalming is the process of using the body’s own circulatory system to replace naturally occurring bodily fluids (primarily blood) with preserving and disinfecting chemicals. The most frequently used chemicals include highly diluted methanol and formaldehyde, both of which are commonly used in many applications.
It is possible to use “green” chemicals in the embalming process. While the typically used chemicals are found in everyday items we use, you want other options. These can be discussed and may be possible to use; the circumstances of the passing and the length of time before services can be held will impact this decision. Whether to embalm is usually a personal choice unless circumstances mandate it. Bodies for both cremation and burial can be embalmed for the purpose of sanitization, preservation, and presentation. If you have any questions about whether to embalm or if you want to discuss alternatives, our experts are available at Country Hill Crematorium to discuss your options and answer your questions.