Embalming is sometimes referred to as ‘presentation’, ‘hygienic preparation’ or ‘preservation’.
If you are not intending to view the person and the funeral is happening in the UK, then embalming is not necessary.
Most funeral directors offer embalming, some include it in their prices and may not reduce their fee if you opt not to have it, with some it a separate, extra charge.
If you want to view the deceased, some funeral directors will assume that you want embalming. Best practice is to ask for your consent, but they may not.
Embalming aims to preserve the body temporarily by draining and replacing bodily fluids with chemicals. It is classed as an invasive procedure.
Funeral directors may recommend it, especially if several weeks have passed since the person died and you want to view them. It may be more advisable in some situations than others, but there is no rule to say that you must have it done.
It can affect the person’s colouring and how their skin feels so if you are considering it, ask the funeral director what to expect. Some people prefer not to have it as they feel it can make the person look less natural.
There can be other things funeral directors can do to make the viewing experience softer, so ask them what options are available.
In some cases, a funeral director may recommend you do not view the body if it has already started to break down. Some people find it helpful to write a letter to the person who has died to say goodbye, rather than seeing them.
Some green cemeteries will not allow embalming, and it is not allowed for burial at sea.
If you are having the body repatriated to another country it will need to be embalmed.
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