The mortuary is a facility, often located in hospitals, where dead bodies are stored until the time of the funeral. The body is then prepared for burial, cremation or other methods of disposition.
A standalone morgue typically offers autopsy and embalming services, but not full-service funeral homes. A funeral home offers the full package, including memorialization products and a ceremony space.
A funeral director is responsible for planning memorial services and coordinating the burial or cremation process. They are also in charge of a number of administrative tasks, such as writing and posting obituary notices and handling documents related to insurance claims or veterans’ benefits. Funeral directors also provide emotional support to grieving families and may help them make decisions about funeral plans.
They often meet with family members soon after the death to explain their options, set up visitation and viewing times, and help write an obituary. They must be prepared to answer questions about funeral traditions and religious practices. They also maintain a casket showroom and display room, and must be knowledgeable about the different options available.
Previously, funeral directors were also known as morticians or undertakers. While many of the same duties remain, the profession now requires professional licensure. Licensed funeral directors have an associate degree in mortuary science, and many work under an experienced mortician for one to three years before becoming independent.
Embalming is a common practice that helps to preserve the body of a deceased person. It is particularly useful for open casket funerals or when family members wish to spend time with their loved one after the death. The embalming process involves introducing special chemicals into the body, which delays the natural processes that cause decay and gives the deceased a more peaceful appearance.
Mortuary workers are often at risk for exposure to hazardous materials, especially formaldehyde. Employees must be trained to understand and follow the facility’s procedures for handling waste. This includes keeping a log of chemical categories and containers, and using proper personal protective equipment.
The first step in the embalming process is washing the remains with a disinfectant solution and then positioning them. The funeral director will then relieve the rigor of the body by flexing and massaging the arms and legs. This step is important because it relieves the pressure on the body’s largest circulatory vessels, which are found in the neck area (the carotid artery and the jugular vein). After this, blood is drained from the body and replaced with a fluid containing formaldehyde and other chemicals.
Preparation of the body
A mortuary is a medical facility that cares for dead people. It is also a place where people honor their loved ones after death. It can be located within a funeral home or as part of a public or private morgue. Its services include embalming and preparing the body for burial. The staff may also remove mechanical devices, such as pacemakers. A mortuary can also be used to prepare a body for alkaline hydrolysis, which is a greener alternative to cremation.
A mortuary must also comply with OSHA rules for worker safety. While there is a possibility that employees can contract a disease from working with a corpse, this is very rare. In most cases, the risk is more likely from medical equipment or materials that are left on the body. For example, a person who has undergone chemotherapy might have ports or traces of the medication.
In this photo, you can see two standard white mortuary trays. Above the trays is a machine that looks like a toilet, but it is used to drain blood and other fluids. This is important because it prevents purging, which can affect the quality of the work done on the body.
Disposition of the body
A dead body should be disposed of promptly and with dignity, observing standards of decency. This final disposition may include burial, entombment, inurnment, scattering, space burial, or delivery of cremated remains. A close relative of the deceased has a right to choose how a body is disposed.
A traditional funeral involves a casket, and it can be quite an elaborate affair. It can take days or even weeks to complete. During this time, the body is embalmed, groomed, and dressed. This is not the only way to dispose of a body, however.
Cremation has become increasingly popular in the United States and has even surpassed burial. This process is quicker and more cost effective than a traditional funeral, but it also poses some risks to the environment. Like any other business, mortuaries produce biohazardous waste that must be properly disposed of. This includes all materials that contain blood or bodily fluids as well as all equipment and vehicles used in corpse handling.