Embalming is the treatment of human remains using formaldehyde-based chemicals to preserve and slow decomposition. It is common especially in developed countries, practiced for more than a century. Over the years, through research, and trials the technique has since been perfected.

Embalming takes place in two installments. First, surgery is done to remove blood fluids. The next process is preparing the body for viewing using cosmetic procedures such as styling the hair or applying makeup.

Reasons for Embalming

Nowadays funeral homes are gravitating towards Embalming which ensures better presentation of the departed during viewing by mourners. After the process, the deceased may closely resemble their former self. Thus, friends and family are afforded one last chance to view their loved ones as they remembered them. It contributes towards a successful viewing since the mourners don’t have to deal the putrescence state of the corpse.

For expats who have to be transported back home for burial, Embalming is recommended to enhance preservation of the body. The method is more effective than cooling. In most cases, the deceased spends additional time at a place of worship or home, before burial.

Overview of the Process

Before the Embalming process commences, the body is cleansed using germicidal soap.  The embalmer will massage the arms and legs to relieve rigour mortis. Next, 'setting the features' is undertaken which involves sealing the eyes shut using body adhesive.  The embalmer will shut the mouth either by suturing or setting a wire. Finally, they will shave any facial hair. Usually, a recent photo of the deceased acts as a reference when setting the face.

Arterial and Cavity Embalming

Arterial Embalming involves removing the blood from veins and replacing it with formaldehyde-based chemicals. Next, the body organs are drained off contents and air. The contents are replaced with the chemicals.


The goal of makeup is to make the body lively as possible and to create a memory picture for the bereaved. In most cases, it involves applying moisturising cream to the body. Afterward, any blemishes or marks from illness are covered using opaque cosmetics. Coloured lipstick is used on females, and sometimes the embalmer applies pale lipstick on males. In general, the work done will depend on the condition of the body.

Grooming and Hairstyling

If the deceased wore a wig, it is okay to reuse it. The embalmer may style the hair by brushing or styling using hairspray or gels.


Where the deceased suffered an injury or degenerative illness, the embalmer conducts cosmetic reconstruction. They will aim to restore the face or body back to its earlier form. Materials used include cotton, plaster, wax and other materials.

Notes for Clothing

You can have the deceased dress in new clothes or their favourite attire. Just think of what they would have preferred and loved. Here you can go for different options.

Bring Items

The person who died can be buried with the items they loved such as jewellery or photographs. Keep in mind that metal must be removed before cremation.

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