What Is a Mortuary?


A mortuary is a place where dead bodies are stored until they are ready for burial or cremation. These facilities are often staffed with funeral directors, also known as morticians and undertakers.

They are an important part of the end-of-life process, and knowing the difference between a mortuary and a funeral home can help you find the right service for your loved one’s needs.

Preparation of the Body for Viewing

The preparation of the body for viewing begins with washing it in disinfectant solutions. During the process, the limbs are massaged to relieve rigor mortis, which sets in soon after death and causes muscles to become stiff.

After washing, the cadaver is set into formal clothing approved by the family. Additional work is done on the face, including setting the eyes in a closed position using an eye cap or suturing, wiring, or adhesive to keep the jaw in place.

The embalmer will also add cosmetics to the skin and hair to help hide a discoloration caused by rigor mortis or lack of blood circulation. This allows the viewer to see more of a person’s features and creates a more realistic image for the deceased.

Preparing the Body for Burial or Cremation

Whether you choose to bury or cremate your loved one, the process is important. Funeral directors can explain all options and costs, as well as legal considerations.

If you choose to bury, the body will be placed in a casket and may go through a viewing before being lowered into a grave. This can take a lot of time, as well as money.

However, many people today are opting for cremation. This is a less expensive and easier alternative to burial.

The main difference between a traditional burial and cremation is that in cremation, the body is reduced to bone fragments through a high-temperature process. This means that only a few pounds of bones will remain. These ashes are then returned to the family, or they can be scattered.

Preparing the Body for a Funeral Service

Funeral services are an important way for grieving families to express their love and support for a deceased loved one. Services can also help family members begin to move forward in their grief journey.

The mortuary prepares the body of a deceased person for burial or cremation before the service. This can include embalming and refrigeration, which preserves the body and protects it from bacterial growth.

During the embalming process, the mortician drains blood from arteries using forceps and injects embalming solution into them via a small tube connected to an embalming machine. This helps to preserve the body and make it appear more lifelike.

The mortician may also use a variety of tools to plump up facial features, such as glue, plaster, or wax. They may also use an airbrush to apply cosmetics to the face and hair.

Preparing the Body for a Cremation

When a deceased is going to be cremated, there are certain steps that need to take place first. These steps are similar to those needed for a burial.

Preparation of the body for cremation includes washing and disinfecting the limbs. This is done to help relieve rigor mortis.

Once the limbs are clean, they are then massaged to relax muscles and joints that have become stiffened due to rigor mortis.

This process also helps to set the features of the deceased, making them more presentable for viewing. Typically eyelids are sewn shut, but they can also be glued shut in some cases.

Once the body has been prepared for cremation, it is then placed into a cremation container. This can be a simple casket, a box or even a plastic urn.

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