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The Embalming Process - Essay Example

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The purpose of the embalming process is to "temporarily [preserve] human remains to forestall decomposition and make it suitable for display at a funeral" ("Embalming"). In order to accomplish this result, four general steps must be undertaken. By first outlining these steps, then examining each one in further detail, it is possible to better understand the nature of the embalming process as it is employed in modern funeral homes.
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The Embalming Process
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The Embalming Process The purpose of the embalming process is to "temporarily [preserve] human remains to forestall decomposition and make it suitable for display at a funeral" ("Embalming"). In order to accomplish this result, four general steps must be undertaken. By first outlining these steps, then examining each one in further detail, it is possible to better understand the nature of the embalming process as it is employed in modern funeral homes.
The first step in the embalming process is called arterial embalming. Arterial embalming is essentially "the injection of embalming chemicals into the blood vessels, usually via the right common carotid artery" ("Embalming"). While this fluid is being added to the vessels, the blood is simultaneously removed via the jugular vein ("Embalming"). In this way, most of the blood is replaced by a fluid that will better preserve the corpse. This process usually requires about two gallons of the embalming fluid, which is a "mixture of formaldehyde and or other chemical-and water" ("What You Should Know"). The embalmer must ensure that the fluid circulates through the body, using both a mechanical pump and manually massaging the corpse to do so ("Embalming"). Then end effect is the presence of embalming fluid in the veins and arteries of the body.
Having completed the arterial embalming, the next step for the embalmer is cavity embalming. During this step, "a tocar-a long, pointed, metal tube attached to a suction hose-is inserted close to the navel" ("What You Should Know"). The purpose of this is to remove some of the gases and liquids within the chest cavities. These cavities are then filled with a formaldehyde based fluid, again with the aim of preserving the insides of the corpse ("What You Should Know").
The third step in the embalming process is hypodermic embalming. This involves the "injection of embalming chemicals under the skin as needed" ("Embalming"). The goal is to maintain the appearance of the corpse for the funeral as well as to preserve the elasticity of the skin.
Finally, the embalmer performs the surface embalming. This step, unlike those previous, is intended solely to preserve the superficial appearance of the corpse (usually for the funeral). This process involves not only the washing of the body and application of makeup, but also repairing any damage that has been done to the body from a sustained trauma. For example, "any missing facial features are molded from wax" to make the appearance of the corpse less startling to any family members ("What You Should Know").
Thus, the four steps of the embalming process are: arterial embalming, cavity embalming, hypodermic embalming, and surface embalming. Ultimately, it seems that embalming is not a single, uniform process, but rather a combination of four independent procedures. The combined effect of these four, individual processes is the temporary preservation of the body and the improvement or maintainence of its external appearance.
Works Cited
"Embalming." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 08 Oct. 2006. .
"What You Should Know About Embalming." Funerals Consumer Alliance. 16 Oct. 2006 . Read More
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