When someone dies, they go to the mortuary. Mortuaries are refrigerated spaces where medical professionals examine and prepare bodies for burial.

Most people have a very basic understanding of what a mortuary is. They are often seen as bare-bones operations that offer simple services, without a focus on comfort or opulent facilities.


Embalming is a process that allows the deceased to be kept in an appearance more similar to their normal state. It also makes it possible for family members to view the body prior to the funeral service or memorial gathering.

The embalmer first washes and dries the body to remove any excess water and tissue fluid. They may then use a solution via hypodermic needle to plump facial features, if needed.

For arterial embalming, the blood in the body is replaced with a mixture of formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, ethanol and phenol. They may also choose to do a restricted cervical injection, which involves injecting the neck area only.

Then the surgical embalming starts. A small incision is made near the bellybutton, and a sharp tool used for drainage, called a trocar, is inserted into the abdomen cavity. The organs in the chest cavity and abdomen are punctured and drained of their contents, as well as gas, before being injected with the formaldehyde-based chemical mixture. The incision is then sutured shut.


The burial of a human corpse may be a deeply cherished ritual in many cultures. This practice can be influenced by geography, religion, and social attitudes.

In some cultures, the body is buried in containers such as shrouds, coffins, grave liners, and burial vaults that slow the decomposition process and keep odors from rising to the surface. Often, the body is also entombed or interred with items that held great meaning for the deceased.

Burials are arranged in underground graves or aboveground crypts within buildings called mausoleums. Sometimes, a known person is buried anonymously to avoid desecration of the grave site or to prevent robbery of the remains by carrion eaters. In addition, burial is a common way for people to dispose of ashes. A few cultures may bury the dead in open air, either on a mountaintop or elsewhere. Depending on the culture, this is done to arouse the spirits of the deceased to help them in their afterlife journey.


A mortuary is a place that can help you arrange for funeral services or burial. They can also keep safe any belongings that the person who has died had in hospital until their family or the person administering their estate arranges for them to be collected.

Many people now choose cremation rather than burial. This is usually because of the flexibility it offers in terms of final disposition, although some religions prefer to bury or entomb remains.

When a body is cremated it leaves behind cremains, which are primarily bone fragments. These are subsequently ground to a fine powder and can be interred in a memorial site, retained by relatives or scattered.

Some mortuaries are associated with funeral homes and can provide full funeral services. Others offer less extensive services and may not be able to connect you with a funeral home, depending on what your wishes are for the end-of-life ritual. The type of services they offer can differ significantly from one mortuary to another, so it is important that you talk through your options with them.

Funeral Services

Mortuaries are more bare-bones operations than funeral homes. They’re more focused on the mortuary sciences and preparing the body for burial. They offer quick viewing for immediate family members, onsite cremation services, and preparation of the body.

They don’t typically offer planning or memorial services for the deceased, although they may be able to recommend third-party providers for those options. Funeral homes, on the other hand, are more focused on grieving with families and providing support.

You can find mortuaries in hospitals, medical examiners’ offices, and some cemeteries. They can also be stand-alone facilities or part of a funeral home. The most important thing is to choose a provider that is reputable, affordable, and has a staff with knowledge about the options available for your loved one’s body. Be sure to ask questions if you’re not clear about anything. It’s okay to shop around and visit multiple funeral homes before you decide. They’re all happy to answer your questions.

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