Body Preparation

As funeral directors we are able to prepare your loved one from the time of death through to the funeral service. The process and purposes behind preparing a deceased body are frequently misunderstood.

The preparing of a deceased body is necessary to ensure there will be no unpleasant changes with the deceased and to enable sufficient time between date of death and date of funeral (eg. to allow family to return to New Zealand for the funeral).

It enables everyone connected with the funeral – family, friends and professionals – to take part in rituals with no unpleasantness or embarrassment and without risk to their health, whatever the cause of death.

This procedure is one part of the preparation of a body. Many people associate embalming with primitive cultural practices and have misgivings about its value and purpose today. But without embalming, nature begins to take its course very soon after death and the body will start to deteriorate. Embalming has three main purposes:

  • Sanitation – The body is made safe for handling and viewing because micro-organisms are made harmless.
  • Preservation – Embalming allows adequate time for relatives and friends to grieve and say goodbye. It enables the person who has died to be taken home or to a Marae. It ensures that there will be no problems with odour or deterioration.
  • Presentation – Embalming restores the person’s natural appearance in life, giving mourners a much better memory picture. This brings a sense of relief and comfort and helps peace of mind.

The overall preparation is usually one of three main types:

Hygienic Presentation
Washing of the entire body and posing the facial features to a pleasant and natural expression, dressing the deceased and setting the hair ready for viewing (duration of 1-2 days before funeral) This procedure will involve very limited embalming techniques or not at all depending on the circumstances.

Standard Preservation
Posing the facial features of the deceased and then distributing disinfecting and preserving fluids through the body’s arterial system followed by washing of the entire body before dressing the deceased ready for viewing (duration of 5-10 days before funeral).

Reconstruction and/or Repatriation (long-term) Preservation
Some situations require extensive and highly skilled preparation and preservation by experienced embalming staff. This generally occurs when death is a result of trauma, a failed operation or disease.

CCFS staff are highly skilled in facial reconstruction and preservation. It’s important for us to be able to offer family and friends the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved one and retain a memory they will treasure.

If the body is to be repatriated we will prepare the deceased to a much greater level to ensure that preservation will last weeks or even months, according to international repatriation rules.

At CCFS we have both female and male staff trained in the art of preparing the deceased and we’ll always discuss our preparation options and our suggestions with the next of kin to ensure we abide by the family wishes and allow opportunity for fully informed consent.

It is common for different cultures to have very specific requests as to the preparation of the deceased, and we always endeavour to balance family desires with good practice and official health and safety considerations.

The golden rule is communication between the funeral director and the family early in the arrangement process. If you are in doubt about anything to do with the preparation process please do ask us – we’re here to help.