WHAT IS EMBALMING?
A GUIDE TO THE EMBALMING PROCESS
The following will explain the process of embalming, why we always recommend it, why it’s often needed and why families choose this extra service.
This article contains information about how embalming works, which you may find upsetting if a loved one has recently passed away.
What is Embalming?
Embalming is the process of introducing a disinfectant solution to the internal environment of the deceased. It will slow down changes to the body which occur after death, giving the deceased a more restful and natural appearance, in some situations removing some visible effects of the cause of death.
Care of Your Loved One
It is important that our families understand the level of care given to their loved ones whilst they are resting in one of our branches.
We understand that, from time to time, the circumstances of death may present challenges in fulfilling expectations of having an open coffin in the Chapel of Rest. We will, however, endeavour to ensure your wishes are adhered to where it is within our control to do so.
Describing embalming as an ‘additional service’ is important as, in most cases, washing and dressing of the deceased will happen whether embalming is carried out or not. There will, however, be circumstances where for various reasons beyond our control (e.g. the condition of the tissues of the body or if we have been notified of a potential risk of infection, such as from Covid-19) that we recommend embalming or on occasion insist that embalming is carried out to protect you and also our funeral home staff from infection.
Our reasons for recommending embalming are not financially motivated, rather they are to support you at this difficult time and to ensure that any visits to our private chapels of rest are the most positive experience they can be for you and that your memories of the visit are comforting knowing your loved one looked at peace, almost like they are just asleep.
Why Do We Always Recommend Embalming?
Whilst we are alive the bacteria within the human body is contained, after death this bacteria produces changes that may be noticeable visibly or by odour. The time these changes take to become apparent is subject to influence by many factors, for example:
- The time between the deceased being brought into our care and death occurring
- The cause of death
- Medication the person has been receiving
- Environmental factors.
When talking to your Personal Funeral Advisor, you may hear words such as presentation, preservation and sanitation. We hope this information helps you understand these terms and the underlying reasons for any advice we may offer.
The Embalming Process
In its simplest form, this is the introduction of a disinfectant solution to the internal environment of the body.
In life, the body is nourished by nutrients via the bloodstream. In order to accomplish this, the arterial system is required to reach virtually every individual tissue contained within it. It is therefore easy to understand that a disinfectant solution injected into the bloodstream after death will be distributed around the body and reduce the activity of bacteria and pathogens within it.
The different disinfectant solutions used comprise a number of constituents designed to combat the effects of disease and are specialist combinations used solely for embalming purposes
How Long Does The Effect Of Embalming Last
There is no definitive answer to this question. Various factors may restrict this, for example the condition of the body or the length of time between the deceased being brought into our care and the time of death. Under normal circumstances, we would not expect this to affect your funeral arrangements, however, there are occasions where even after embalming, nature does take its course. Your Personal Funeral Advisor will always be on hand to offer help and support and will advise those families who have chosen to visit the chapels of rest if the time is right to have one final goodbye.
Why Embalming Is The Right Choice
In most cases, there is no legal obligation to embalm someone when they die, but it is still a very popular choice in the UK.
The most common reasons for choosing embalming are:
- It provides peace of mind that, should you or a family member change your mind on requesting to visit the Chapel of Rest, this can be facilitated without concern, especially if the funeral is many weeks after the death.
- A more natural appearance, which brings comfort to those visiting the chapel of rest
- In most situations, embalming permits a family to view their loved one for a longer period of time without natural changes taking place.
- The appearance of the deceased may be restored following the effects of disease or injury.
- A person expressed a wish to be embalmed perhaps through a prepaid funeral plan.
- The funeral may be taking place more than 4 weeks after death. Embalming is advisable in such circumstances for health and hygiene reasons.