What is embalming

When it comes to organising the funeral of a loved one, one of the questions you will be asked is whether you would like them to be embalmed.

Embalming is not required by law, unless your loved one needs to be sent abroad for the funeral.

Embalming is the process where a body is preserved by using chemicals, to slow down the natural changes that take place. The embalming process can help make the person appear restful and, in some cases, can even help with the effects of disease or other causes of death.

Embalming dramatically slows down the natural processes, so it’s often recommended if the funeral isn’t due to take place right away. This allows you more time to visit your loved one in the chapel of rest or bring them home before the funeral. Also, it gives families who need to travel for the funeral an opportunity to visit them in the chapel of rest.

During the embalming process, natural fluids are removed from the body and replaced with a solution to help preserve and improve the appearance of the person who has died. The solutions are a mixture of chemicals including formaldehyde, methanol and ethanol, as well as water and colourants to restore the appearance of the skin.

Embalming can take between 2 to 4 hours to complete, depending on the techniques used. You may be asked to provide a photo of your loved one. This can be useful when applying make-up and styling the hair, to help resemble the way they looked in life.

You can still visit your loved one in the chapel of rest if they haven’t been embalmed. However, as embalming delays those natural changes, we may advise that you visit your loved one as soon as possible. Please note that even if you decide against embalming, care will always be taken to make your loved one look well-presented and peaceful.

A person that has been embalmed can be cremated. The chemicals used in the embalming process don’t have any effect on a cremation.

In many circumstances, you can have a burial once a person has been embalmed. However, if you’re considering an eco-friendly funeral or a woodland burial, embalming isn’t allowed, as the chemicals may soak into the surrounding ground and contaminate the woodland.

The most important thing to remember is that embalming is a very personal choice and by no means compulsory. If you’re still unsure on whether you would choose embalming for your loved one, please talk to us.

We hope that this printable list will prepare you for the questions you will be asked when you speak to us. This list is intended as a guide only, and you can contact us at any stage for further advice and assistance.

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