What is a Mortuary?


Mortuary is a place where bodies are stored temporarily. It is normally located within or adjacent to a hospital or medical center. A morgue is equipped with refrigerated drawer-like compartments where the bodies are stored until they can be identified and autopsied.

Many people use the term undertaker to describe a mortician, but this is a misleading euphemism. Morticians are experts in funeral science and are usually involved in preparing the body for burial or on-site cremation.


Mortuaries offer a range of services, including embalming. This process is a necessary step in preparing the body for burial, and it can preserve the look of the deceased person for funerals or wakes. This service can also help families prepare a casket for burial. The process varies by tradition, but it typically involves dressing the body and adding items to the casket that the deceased person requested.

A mortuary can be located in a medical center or hospital, and it can be a separate facility from a funeral home. In addition to storing bodies, a mortuary may perform autopsies and embalming. Some mortuaries will also offer cremation services.

Some mortuaries will also provide funeral services, but they are usually less extensive than those offered by a traditional funeral home. In addition, a mortuary may also provide assistance with obtaining death certificates and other documentation. Other services offered by a mortuary include crime scene cleanup, casket transportation, and escorting the body to a destination.


A mortuary is a controlled place that is refrigeration equipped and used to store human corpses until they can be positively identified, removed for autopsy, respectful burial or cremation. It is usually operated by a local government or the medical examiner and sometimes by funeral homes.

A modern mortuary has stainless-steel tables and refrigerators and is staffed with morticians. It may also have a viewing room, which is used for family members to mourn in privacy. A mortuary can also provide temporary or cosmetic embalming, which improves the appearance of a body and allows it to be viewed for a memorial service. However, this service is not available in all cultures.

In the event of a disaster, mortuary facilities can be supplemented by Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORTs), who work to recover, decontaminate, examine and identify bodies in a dignified and respectful manner. This can help families, friends and communities find closure after a tragic loss.


Depending on the funeral home, the mortuary staff can include funeral directors, embalmers, and pathologists. They are responsible for preparing and storing the bodies of deceased persons. They also perform autopsies and arrange funeral services. Some mortuaries are open 24 hours a day to provide services for people who cannot wait until the next morning.

In addition to their hands-on training, students in mortician and funeral service programs receive classroom instruction in subjects like grief counseling, business law, and funeral service etiquette. Some mortuary schools even offer a bachelor’s degree in funeral service or mortuary science.

Upon graduation, most funeral service workers participate in an apprenticeship. This internship can last up to two years and provides hands-on experience working in a funeral home. Typically, the apprentice works under the supervision of a licensed funeral director. Some of these apprenticeships are conducted at local mortuaries, which can be a convenient option for many families. Other apprenticeships are arranged through mortuary schools.


Although some people believe mortuaries are more expensive than funeral homes, the truth is that they are not. The reason why mortuaries cost less is because they offer only the necessary services like identifying, embalming, and transporting a body. Funeral homes, on the other hand, offer additional services, like preparing the body for burial or cremation.

Most adults have seen depictions of morgues in movies and TV, but these images don’t represent the true purpose of a mortuary. Most morgues are refrigerated drawer-like compartments where bodies are kept temporarily until they can be buried or cremated. These facilities are often located in hospitals, medical centers, and retirement care or hospice care facilities.

In addition to storing the remains, most mortuaries also embalm them to slow down decomposition and prepare them for viewings or visitations. This is especially important if the family wants to hold a memorial service or a wake. While a morgue can provide viewing spaces, they are usually small and compact, which makes them unsuitable for families and large groups.

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