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The Process of Embalming

The embalming process is synonymous with formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a chemical used in the preservation of the human body. Without formaldehyde the body would deteriorate rather quickly. There have been motions as of late to come up with an alternative to formaldehyde, as the chemical itself, has proven to be bad for the environment, but to date nothing having the same preservative quality has been found.

Blood is drained from the body through the jugular vein. Formaldehyde is then injected into the carotid artery or the femoral artery located in the thigh.  After the formaldehyde has been introduced into the circulatory system it is then introduced into the digestive system. In this case, waste material along with fluids and gases must be removed first. Then the abdominal area is filled with the chemical. The length of time a body can be preserved depends on a number of varying circumstances. Most embalmers insure the body is preserved and looking it’s best for the funeral viewing.

For the funeral viewing, funeral directors take a view steps to insure the body is presentable in an open casket. One of these is to place red dye into the formaldehyde mix in order to give the departed’s skin a pink or, somewhat, lively tone. Many things can be done to help cosmetic improve the appearance of the body. Dressing hair and applying makeup are a view things an embalmer can do to help beautify the body. In extreme cases plastic surgery may be necessary if the body has been badly damage prior to it’s death.

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Individuals who preform the embalming, if not the funeral director themselves, are known as embalmers. Embalming is a career trade. Embalmers can be responsible for everything from the draining of bodily fluids, the preparation of the body, the hair and make-up, and in most cases speaking with the family personally to arrange a preferred look for the deceased body. Most embalmers work closely with funeral directors and may in fact one day become funeral directors if they choose. Embalmers currently make on average $40,000 a year in the United States. The state government requires all embalmers to be licensed. Qualifications vary from state to state. General qualifications are: at least 2 years of experience, a year or more as an apprentice to an embalmer or funeral director, and the passing of a state board exam. With what the trade teaches, if embalmers do not want to stay in the funeral business they are more than prepared for jobs as make up artist and hair dressers.

Unless cremation is the choice of the deceased, embalming will more than likely occur. It is federal law that bodies on display for funeral viewing be embalmed. If the body is not embalmed, for any reason, the funeral director most notate the reason why. Some reason for not embalming are early burials due to religious stipulations and bodies damaged beyond physical repair.

Mankind has been keeping body’s preserved for as long as they have been burying them. The ancient Egyptians, however, were the first to introduce embalming. Their practice of cleaning and preparing the body, however, was more in line with the preparation of the body for the afterlife than for public viewing. Nowadays embalming is done only to keep the body preserved for the few days between death and the wake. It’s necessary part in the modern funeral ceremony insure it’s practice for some time to come.

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