Embalming, an essential service provided by funeral directors, is frequently misunderstood. Many people associate embalming with ancient and primitive cultural practices and have misgivings about its relevance, value and purpose today.
Without embalming, nature begins to take its course very soon after death. The embalming process prevents the body decomposing between the time of death and the funeral, making interaction with and viewing the deceased safe. Embalming enables everyone connected with the funeral – family, friends and professionals – to take part in rituals with no unpleasantness or embarrassment and without risk to their own health, whatever the cause of death.
Prior to death, the deceased may have been bedridden for some time, and may not have been bathed properly for several days. In addition often the cocktail of chemicals given prior to death masks the commencement of decomposition.
The deceased is transferred back to the mortuary after death. There they are embalmed, showered, nails clipped, hair styled, gentlemen are shaved and women may be made up if this is how they were normally presented. The deceased is then dressed in the clothing supplied by the family and placed in the casket.