We have included this page on our site to alleviate some of the myths, fears of the unknown or unanswered questions about embalming.
Embalming is the process of disinfecting and preservation of the body. Embalming is not required by law.
Embalming is done for several reasons
To allow families enough time to arrange the type of funeral services they want, to transport the deceased to another location for services and to restore the deceased to an appearance that is peaceful and soothing to the family. The body can be viewed without embalming; however the best results are when the body is embalmed. Most funeral homes will require embalming if there is to be a viewing, visitation or transportation. Individual state laws regulate embalming and with rare exceptions embalming is not required to be performed. The Federal Trade Commission requires that you must give your permission for embalming to be performed by the funeral home.
Regardless of the method chosen for final disposition of the body a public visitation can be of great help to family and friends in dealing with the grieving and mourning process. Viewing of the body should always be considered before final disposition.
Viewing of the body provides the family and friends with the confrontation that death has in fact occurred. Without viewing it can be difficult for the family and friends to persuade their own mind that their loved one or close friend is gone.
The Visitation or Viewing time is a very important time since it allows the family and friends to say goodbye to the deceased in their own personal way. During this time the family members and friends that gather can support each other with the grieving process. It is a time for remembering, expressing love, sharing tears and condolences by all.
Family members and friends of the deceased benefit tremendously from a final viewing of the body, especially when the individual died as a result of sudden traumatic death.
First the remains are always treated with respect and dignity.
Embalming is only performed by those who have had the required education and passed licensing requirements (in most states) to practice. The embalming process requires that the practitioner understand many different disciplines of knowledge. These disciplines include anatomy, microbiology, pathology, chemistry, and specialized areas such as restorative art and cosmetology. The procedure requires time and skill. What is described here is a description in a lay person’s terminology and should not be confused with the more complex process that is practiced by the embalmer.
Embalming is a chemical process that temporarily preserves the body and is the most successful way of removing the signs of disease and trauma, and sometimes restores the person to a more suitable appearance. Embalming takes place in a room that resembles a surgical operating room. The procedure itself can vary according to the condition of the deceased but will follow a set of standard guidelines. It may be more extensive if an autopsy has been performed or trauma is present. The procedure begins with the deceased being placed on a table, bathed and then cleaned with a disinfectant solution. The arterial system is used for the injection of preservative chemicals and the venous system is used for removal of some of the blood. The distribution of chemicals is done through a tube that is inserted into the artery and is connected to a machine that will send the fluid to the tube. Once sufficient fluid has been injected into the body, the vessels are tied off and the incision or incisions will be sutured closed. The internal body cavities are treated by inserting a long tube and removing any gas or liquids and adding a preservative chemical. The body is thoroughly washed again, dressed and cosmetics are applied as needed. The use of cosmetics helps to even out the facial color changes that take place when the heart stops at death. It can also conceal bruises and trauma. Regardless of who will be viewing the deceased, the funeral home will ask the family to come to see them first. In many cases even if the family had thought they wanted the casket closed they will leave the casket open because of the work of the embalmer.
Our embalmer - Thomas J. MacKinnon
Our embalmer, Thomas J. MacKinnon, has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer since 1998 after graduating from the Funeral Institute of the North East. Thomas has attended seminars in embalming including Verne R Fountain’s seminar founder of Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills.
Thomas is a skilled practitioner not only in basic embalming, but he is specialized in areas such as traumatic and accident fatalities, autopsy, and organ donation embalming’s, and also restorative art and cosmetology. Not only embalming for MacKinnon Funeral Home, but embalms and consults to numerous funeral homes in the greater Boston and South Shore area aiding in hundreds of embalming’s each year, helping with the goal to convert the closed casket situation into an open casket situation. Thomas tries always to use the least amount of cosmetics to preserve the natural look of the deceased and to preserve the memory the families had of the deceased in a comforting way.