There is nothing new about embalming. In fact it is a process that has been in existence for thousands of years as a way of preserving a body.
People from Egypt, Ethiopia, Peru, Tibet and southern Nigeria used embalming techniques.
So did the Guanches, the Jivaro Indians, the Aztecs, the Tolecs and the Mayans and in Europe an embalmed body found in Spain was discovered to be 5000 years old.
But as time has progressed, so have the ways of administering it.
Modern embalming is now done by arterial injection an innovation which is said to have been invented in England in the 18th century
What is Embalming?
It is a way of preserving a body to delay the natural breakdown of cells and temporarily helps to prevent the processes that cause our bodies to decay.
It’s not meant to last forever however, it does mean that we can have a little more time with our loved ones in physical form.
Of course it is not a procedure that suits every situation but there are valid reasons why it might be carried out and many funeral homes offer this service.
How is Embalming carried out?
In its simplest form, this is the introduction of a disinfectant solution to the body’s interior through the arterial system.
As the disinfectant flows through the body it reduces the activity of bacteria and pathogens.
How long does embalming last?
If placed in a dry environment or in a special fluid then an embalmed body may end up mummified and it is possible for these bodies to be preserved for decades.
How long the effect lasts also depends on other factors that affect the rate of decomposition, such as how well the person was embalmed, what type of casket and vault they were placed in, humidity, heat, cold, soil type, the availability of oxygen, body size and weight, clothing and the surface on which a body rests.
Why embalm the deceased?
It’s often necessary in situations where there will be a period of time between when death occurs and cremation takes place, or if there is a viewing of the body at a wake, funeral, or any service where people will observe the deceased person.
In that situation, embalming is required before the essential cosmetic applications, which make the loved one appear lifelike and natural.
Embalming is also necessary if the cause of death was due to a disease, especially if the body needs to be transported elsewhere.
It can have a psychological effect too, bringing closure for those who need to see the body in order to grasp that their loved one is gone.
It can help to restore the beloved’s appearance following their death. It can for example make them look at peace. Another reason for embalming is to give families who have suddenly lost a loved one the chance to say goodbye.
There are also those who specialise in embalming people who have suffered disfiguring injuries in terrible accidents.
- Most branches of Christianity
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)
- The Society of Friends (Quakers)
The cost of embalming
If for any reason embalming is requested then the price of this will be factored into the total funeral costs by the funeral director who will advise you on all aspects of the process.
If you need to talk to someone about what is required when a loved one dies then please do contact us by filling the form below.