This is probably one of the most common questions a funeral director gets asked.
Embalming and other types of preservation have been recorded in history as far back as the Egyptians. Back in those days, only the wealthy were embalmed, or "mummified", as it was known then. History has shown that the Egyptian mummies were well preserved for thousands of years. Over the years the procedure has changed many times to what we now know as modern day embalming.
Why do we embalm?
Embalming is primarily done to disinfect and preserve the remains. Disinfection is important for all who come in contact with the remains, and for the public safety of our communities. In the years gone by, deaths due to typhoid fever, malaria and other highly contagious diseases, put funeral directors and others who came into contact with the remains at a very high risk of contracting the same disease. Secondly, with the traditional funeral, it has been customary to have a period of visitation with the remains present. Friends and family gather to view the remains and pay tribute to that family member or friend that has died. We gather to console the family on their loss, and to express sympathy to them. Without the embalming process, most remains would not be viewable within a short amount of time. There are constant changes going on chemically and physically within the remains that quickly change visually and other qualities that we are accustomed to seeing. Embalming acts as a hindrance to this, and gives us the time needed to pay respect and express our sympathies.