Embalming is the method used when an open casket funeral is set to happen. Embalming is an art and a science that helps preserve human remains in order to forestall decomposition. The purpose of embalming is to make the deceased individual more presentable, life-like and suitable for a public display at a funeral. Some religions and cultures place a larger significance on embalming than others.
A lot of time, skill, practice and expertise goes into preparing a body for its final presentation.
Here is a step by step process of how embalming is done.
The whole process is estimated to take about 45 minutes while the dressing of the body and makeup generally take a lot longer. As mentioned earlier, embalming is meant to delay decomposition so different chemicals and fluids will be used to slow the speed of decay.
The body is made more lifelike in order for the loved ones to go through the grieving process of seeing them one last time. Especially when the individual died in a traumatic way, it is an essential part of closure to say their goodbyes.
The first step is to ensure that the body is actually dead. The scariest thing would be a premature burial.
Specialists who do one last check for vitals and check for things such as pulse and clouded corneas.
After they’ve ensured that they can begin the process, the second step is to lay the body on its back. This is because gravity will pull everything, including blood downwards. If the body is placed face down then blood will pool in the face causing discoloration.
In order to make the embalmer’s job a little easier, the body is placed on the back so that blood pools away from the parts of the body that will be viewed and the blood can then be drained out at a later stage.
Everything is then removed from the body such as clothes or IVs and catheters if the individual passed away at a hospital.
A cloth is left over the genitalia and the rest of the body is inspected for any marks or discolorations to determine what chemicals the embalmers will use.
The next stage is to wash and disinfect the body. All orifices need to be washed and cleaned out with the use of a germicide and disinfectant.
The previous step determines what types of solution and chemicals will be used for this step. Then, a man’s face will be shaved and a woman’s facial hair will be removed in order to make them more presentable.
In order to rid the body of rigor mortis or to delay its effects, the body will be massaged, bent and flexed in order to relieve stiffness. Embalmers will generally focus on the major muscle groups.
This step is essential since it helps prepare the body for the absorption of the embalming fluids. Muscle stiffness or rigidity can cause pressure in the vascular system which can cause the embalming fluid to divert elsewhere than its intended area.
The next step is to set the features in order to recreate a natural look. Eyelids are kept closed and relaxed with the use of an eye cap or a piece of cotton.
The jaw may be wired shut and the lips and gums may be glued or stitched together. This step is done before the application of embalming fluid since little changes will be extremely difficult to do after the fluid has entered the body.
Lastly, moisturizer might also be applied at this stage to help create a more lifelike, and relaxed look.
Once all the blood is drained away, the embalming chemicals will be injected into the body through the arteries.
Using a centrifugal pump, approximately two gallons of the chemical will be injected into the body as the blood is being drained.
On a man, the incision occurs at the base of the neck while on women and children it is generally around the femoral artery on the thigh.
During the embalming process, the muscles will be continually massaged in order to create an even distribution of the liquid and to prevent any blood or chemical clots.
Once the fluid has been entered into the body, the pressure will be lowered before the embalmer ties off the artery and stitches up any incisions that they made.
In addition to the outside body and skin being embalmed, inner organs need to be embalmed as well. This means that the blood inside the internal organs need to be drained out.
A large hollow needle will be used and inserted into an organ in order to clean it out and release it of any fluids or gas.
Once the organs are sufficiently drained, they will then be filled back up with the embalming liquid. Other orifices such as the genitals will be plugged in order to prevent leakage.
The body will then be washed and disinfected. If there happens to be any bruising, discoloration or decomposition on the skin, some embalming liquid will be applied directly to the site.
Once the body is dried, makeup and moisturizer will be applied. Makeup will be added to any areas of the body that will be visible such as the face, neck and hands.
This is why the fingernails will be painted, hair is styled and makeup is applied. Baby powder may be used in cases where there may be body odor.
In certain situations, wax and other cosmetic procedures may be performed in order to recreate the facial structure.
Finally, the body will be dressed in clothing that the family has picked out and the body will be placed inside a casket. Sometimes a bouquet of flowers, some jewelry or any other elements can be added in order to help the body look more peaceful and at rest.