When planning a funeral for a loved one, one of the first questions you’ll be asked is whether you want them embalmed. If you don’t know much about the process, this can be a difficult decision to make, so we’ve put together this quick guide to assist you.

Embalming is the process of preserving a body by using preservatives to slow down the natural deterioration process. The embalming process can help with the effects of disease or other causes of death by making the person appear relaxed. Embalming aids in the creation of a lasting image of your loved one that is both natural and comforting.

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

Why do people choose to embalm?

When a person dies, their appearance may be drastically different from it was in life, and embalming can provide a great deal of comfort by restoring their appearance as much as possible. Some people find that this helps them come to terms with their grief, whether it’s related to the funeral or not.

Embalming significantly slows the natural deterioration of the body after death, so it’s frequently recommended if the funeral isn’t planned right away. This gives you more time to visit your loved ones in the resting place or transport them home before the funeral. It also allows families who must travel for the funeral to pay a visit to their loved ones in the chapel of rest.  Embalming can also help those who are undecided about whether to visit or not and need more time to consider this. Religious beliefs may also be a factor on whether you choose to have your loved one embalmed as some faiths do not allow it. Your funeral director will be able to check this for you.

The embalming process

Embalming is a procedure in which the body’s natural fluids are replaced with a solution (via the arterial system) to help preserve, sanitise, and improve the appearance of the deceased person. The solution is made up of formaldehyde, natural oils, colourants, and water, and it helps to restore the skin’s appearance.

How long does embalming take?

Depending on the techniques used, embalming can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. It’s possible that you’ll be asked to provide a photograph of your loved one. This can come in handy when applying make-up and styling their hair to help them look like they did in real life.

Is it possible to visit my loved ones who haven’t been embalmed?

If your loved one hasn’t been embalmed, you can still pay them a visit in the chapel of rest. Your funeral director may advise you to visit your loved one as soon as possible because embalming slows the natural deterioration process.

Is embalming necessary for cremation?

The products used in embalming have no effect on cremation, so those who have been embalmed can still be cremated safely.

Does embalming affect a burial?

This is determined by the type of burial you select. After a person has been embalmed, there are a variety of options for burial. If you’re planning an eco-friendly funeral or a woodland burial, however, embalming isn’t allowed because the chemicals could pollute the environment.

The most important thing to remember is that embalming is a personal decision that is not required. If you’re still undecided about embalming for your loved one, please contact your Carlyon Funeral Directors, who will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

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We are an independent, family run Funeral Directors based in Mount Hawke, Truro. We strive to be flexible, diverse and respectful of you and your family's needs.

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Wheal Ellen, Mount Hawke, Truro, Cornwall, TR4 8DL

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