What is embalming?

When it comes to organising the funeral of a loved one, one of the questions you will be asked is whether you would like them to be embalmed. This can be quite a difficult decision to make if you don’t know much about the process, so we’ve put together this short guide to help you.

Embalming is the process in which a body is preserved by using chemicals, to slow down decomposition. The process can help make the person appear restful, or even mask the effects of disease or other causes of death.

What are the benefits of embalming?

It’s worth noting at this point that embalming is not a requirement by law, unless your loved one needs to be sent abroad for the funeral, so why does anyone choose embalming for their loved one?

  • When a person has died, they look very different to how they did in life, and so embalming can bring a lot of comfort as it restores their appearance as much as possible.
  • Embalming dramatically slows down the decomposition process, and so, if you would like to visit your loved one in the chapel of rest, or bring them home before the funeral, embalming allows you to do this over a longer period of time.
  • If you have relatives coming from far away, or the funeral is not due to take place soon and you want to visit them closer to the time, embalming allows your loved one’s body to be preserved until that time.
  • Repatriation. As mentioned above, if your loved one is to be taken abroad, it is a legal requirement that they be embalmed. Find out more about repatriation.

Can I visit my loved one if they haven’t been embalmed?

Yes, you can absolutely still visit your loved one in the chapel of rest if they haven’t been embalmed. However, as embalming delays the process of decomposition, your funeral director may advise that you visit your loved one as soon as possible.

The most important thing to remember is that embalming is a very personal choice and by no means mandatory. If you are still unsure on whether you would choose embalming for your loved one, please contact your local Co-op funeral director who would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.