What is embalming?
To put it simply, embalming is the process of preserving the body temporarily so that decomposition can be delayed. It also serves to restore the appearance of the deceased to provide comfort and consolation to the family, especially during an open casket funeral or wake service, where the casket is open for public viewing. Extra precaution and care will need to be taken by our professional embalmers if the deceased was severely injured or suffered visible scarring and wounds. Embalming is also important if the family plans to transport the body over a long distance back to their homes or a funeral parlour. The goal is to present the deceased in the best possible condition, with the absence of any odour. We want the family to see the deceased in a peaceful and resting appearance for one last time.
What does it involve?
Professionally trained embalmers will first wash the body with a disinfectant. To relieve rigor mortis (i.e. the stiffening of the muscles and joints), the body is carefully manipulated to position it in a proper way. Facial hair is usually shaved, unless the deceased used to wear a beard or moustache.
After ensuring that the eyelids, mouth and lower jaw are shut and secured, bodily fluids are surgically removed because the human body is made up of approximately 60% to 70% water and water accelerates decomposition.
Next, a formaldehyde-based chemical solution is used before proceeding with cosmetic procedures and styling.
Makeup application and setting the facial features
Depending on the condition of the deceased, the amount of makeup and how it is applied varies. For regular cases, a moisturiser is gently applied to the hands, face and lips. Makeup and powder is applied to cover up any signs of illness or facial discoloration. Masking any blemishes and giving a more even skin tone helps improve the facial appearance to preserve the deceased’s dignity. Fingernails can also be painted with nail polish. If the deceased had a favourite shade of lipstick, for instance, the embalmers can be informed to accommodate that request from the family.
In some circumstances, whether the deceased suffered facial disfigurement as a result of a disease or fatal car accident, some form of cosmetic reconstruction is necessary to restore the facial features of the deceased using plaster, cotton, wax etc.
Natural hair can be washed, brushed and set depending on each case. And if the deceased used to wear a wig, that can be worn together.
Clothing the deceased and placing the body into a casket (known as encoffining). The clothing selected may be brand new and custom-made for the funeral or it could be the deceased’s favourite outfit. After the deceased has been placed in the coffin, you may wish to place any items of sentimental value or favourite belongings to be buried together. Examples include favourite books, the Bible or family photographs.