While most people would be focused on casket services or religious customs during funeral planning, they might not put much thought into an after-death process such as embalming. However, it is also a crucial aspect to take note of because it helps to facilitate open-casket viewing during the wake. When the body is presented well, the grieving family can say their goodbyes to the deceased and have closure.

Another key purpose is to temporarily preserve the body and delay decomposition, so funeral services may take place. Yet, many people know little about this important procedure. If you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, here’s your chance to learn more on the embalming process.

The body is massaged

When a person dies, the body naturally undergoes several changes. One of the noticeable changes is where the muscles stiffen and limbs, as well as other parts of the body, become rigid. The change is popularly referred to as rigor mortis. Stiffening of the muscles can start about 2 to 6 hours after death. After washing the body, embalmers start by massaging, flexing and bending the arms and legs to relieve the rigidity and loosen up the muscles to prep for the next step.

Embalming fluids are injected

In a process called arterial embalming, an incision will be made at the neck to inject embalming fluids into the arteries. At the same time, the blood is drained from the body through the veins. As the body is massaged thoroughly, this will ensure the chemical solution will flow smoothly through the body. This allows a thorough disinfection and preservation to take place.

Next, cavity embalming is done where so the embalming fluids can be pumped into the internal organs of the body. Gas and fluid contents will also be drained out. Once done, the incisions will be sutured.

Setting the features

Special attention is paid to other parts of the body such as cleaning the fingernails, and removing any stains on the body. Ear hairs may be removed as well as the trimming of any unsightly facial hairs. The eyes will be closed using plastic eye caps or body adhesive, while the mouth will be closed by suture or setting a wire.

Grooming and hairstyling

With proper application of makeup, the deceased can look like they’re in peaceful slumber instead of a lifeless doll. The aim is to achieve a more life-like presentation, especially if there will be a casket viewing. The embalmer may also style the hair by brushing or use hairsprays and gels.

The deceased will be dressed accordingly using the clothes provided by the family. The choice of clothes can also be selected for religious reasons. For example, according to Buddhist funeral customs, the deceased should be dressed in everyday attire and avoid anything fancy like jewellery.

Final note

While embalming is not required by law in Singapore, it is often advisable if the family choose to allow viewing of the deceased during the funeral. Usually, funeral packages would already include embalming services so you can save more on your funeral costs. Otherwise, the body may be placed in a hermetically sealed coffin for a maximum of 7 days before cremation or burial.