The Embalming Process Australia: Do you need it?
Embalming is a three step process involving sanitising, preserving, and presenting a body usually for a funeral service. Like a surgical procedure in an operating room, chemicals are used in the bloodstream, tissues, and organs so that the person being embalmed can be presented for an open casket.
Even though embalming doesn’t make a person last forever in the same state, it does offer a short term way for them to look the way they did before. This can provide a great sense of relief for family and friends, who want to say their final goodbyes.
When is it required in Australia?
Unlike other countries, the practice of embalming in Australia is quite uncommon. However there are some instances where it will be necessary, for either sanitary or cultural reasons. The level of embalming required for the deceased will also depend on circumstances. Families opting for an open casket will need partial embalming, if the funeral takes place within a week of death. Full embalming will need to take place if the body needs to be moved either interstate or overseas.
Who is the Embalmer?
An embalmer is someone who is often from the funeral home that understands the art of preserving a deceased person’s body. Just some of the ways an embalmer is educated is within biology, anatomy, chemistry, and surgical procedures. A person passing away usually has different needs (For example- physical trauma), so the embalmer requires extensive skills in understanding the human body.
Available all days of the week, the job of an embalmer is someone who is on call, much like a doctor. They are prepared to face any type of situation, regardless of what has happened and who is involved. With utmost respect, an embalmer will prepare a body not only for preservation, but also for presentation.
Working closely with the family and funeral director, the embalmer presents a deceased person as they were in life. Family photographs, garment, and other suggestions all help to let an embalmer capture the essence of how the deceased person lived through clothing and cosmetics.
The embalming process
The first steps of embalming are to prepare the body for transferring natural fluids out, and replacing them with chemicals to slow decomposition. Muscles are massaged, with blood and gasses exercised from the body to make room for a formaldehyde mixture that is injected into the vascular stream.
Once finished, features are set in place by use of prosthetics and wiring, giving the deceased person features like sleeping eyes, a closed mouth, and crossed hands. Once the body is ready, cosmetics are applied with hair styled, giving a groomed appearance that resembles the deceased in life.
When can’t you embalm?
The decision not to embalm will come down to cultural or religious practices. People of Jewish or Muslim faiths are forbidden to use embalming because it’s viewed as a desecration of the body. Instead, quick burials are the preferred method, while in case of Buddhists, cremations take place- therefore require no embalming.