This blog post is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.  We’re going to try to answer some questions about embalming and why the decision would be made to undertake this procedure. Or not….

Let’s start by stating that the cells in a human body begin to decompose immediately after death.  The decisions the family and loved ones make about what comes next will determine whether or not they choose to have the decedent embalmed.

If the choice is to have the body cremated with no viewing, embalming is not necessary.

If, however, the decision is to have a viewing, it is recommended that the body is embalmed.  This procedure stops the decay of the body for the period of time that is often necessary to allow family and friends to gather.  It helps restore the appearance of the body and can help to remove evidence of accidents or disease, resulting in an acceptable physical appearance of the decedent.

Embalming is the replacement of the fluids in the body with a solution that preserves and disinfects and allows for the features of the decedent to be set in a natural way.  Besides disinfecting and slowing the decomposition process, embalming contains pigments that enhance the appearance of the deceased, such as returning colour to the face and hands.

The choice to embalm is a personal one and should be discussed with your Funeral Director to determine what your decision will be.  If your loved one has undergone an autopsy or experienced a traumatic accident, some form of repair, including embalming, is often highly recommended if there is to be a viewing. It can be exceedingly difficult for family and loved ones to view the decedent in these circumstances.  Your Funeral Director will discuss their condition with you and help you to decide the best course of action that takes into consideration the peace of mind for everyone involved.

Embalming may also necessary depending on the amount of time that will pass between the death and the burial or cremation.  Another consideration is what will be required if, for example, your loved one is to be placed in a crypt.  The cemetery you choose may require embalming if this is your plan for disposition.

The preservation effects of embalming can last from a few days to about a week.  Modern preservation methods also include refrigeration to ensure that your loved one’s remains are preserved until burial or cremation. 

Any questions you have about whether or not a body should be embalmed can be answered by Kearney’s knowledgeable, professional Funeral Directors. It is an often contentious subject with families and we can help everyone understand so that an informed decision can be made.