Many of us are not aware of the term embalming or even the procedure. The reason being that not everyone from the middle income group does opt for this procedure on their deceased family member. This is an expensive procedure and is in practice in India only in high profile deaths, criminal deaths where the body needs preservation for a longer time. The procedure consists of numerous steps in order to preserve the body from decomposition for a short period of time and even preserve its looks.
Usually the embalming is legally mandatory only when a body needs to be transported from one state or country to another by train or by flight and if there is a long gap between death and funeral procedures or it is to be kept for public viewing.
The conventional procedure of embalming involves laying the body in a face-up position after death only because laying it in face-up can move the blood to the lower parts of the body and discolor or bloat the face. The IV needles or catheters in place need to be removed. All the cuts or bruises or signs on the body need to be reported and documented. Firstly, the eyes, nose, and mouth are cleaned and disinfected from the inside out. The body of males is shaved particularly the face and those of women and kids to remove the peach fuzz. Then the body is massaged in order to loosen up the stiff joints and muscles because if the muscles are stiff then the embalming fluid might not go where its needed due to vascular pressure. Further eyes and mouth are closed if open. A plastic cap could be used for closing eyes or a piece of cotton is placed between the eye and the lids. They can also be glued sometimes. All this is done prior to inducing the embalming fluid in the body because it sets the body, making it difficult later to close the mouth or eyes. As far as the mouth is concerned, it is sewed sometimes. To make the lips and eyes look natural and avoid drying out, moisturizing cream is also applied.
Now, the body is set for incision of the embalming fluid. The fluid is a mix of water, formaldehyde and other chemicals. The incision is made usually near the base of SCM muscle or clavicle in men and femoral site in case of women. The process of incision of the embalming of the fluid and draining of the artery is done simultaneously. The embalming machine is used for distributing the fluid evenly in the body alongside washing it with an antibacterial soap. The pressure needs to be maintained properly to avoid deformity. Once the embalming is done, you need to remove the cannula and tie the veins and arteries used and suture the closed incisions. Finally to ensure that there is no leakage a sealing powder is used.
Green Embalming – These days green embalming alternative is available at certain locations only though for people who are willing to go chemical free and safe, it is done using biodegradable oils generally. This not only protects the embalmer from hazards of chemicals used but also protects the earth from harmful chemicals on burial of the body.
Embalming procedures are very common and mandatory when the mortals are to be transferred outside the country but the extent of services required needs to be decided and comes with a cost. Having said that, it is said that people feel good and it is a bit easier for them to bid goodbye if the the mortal looks alive.
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