Extreme embalming involves the artificial preservation of a dead human body through deliberate human action. Modern extreme embalming methods achieve this (temporary) protection by using chemicals, such as formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde, injected into the vascular system of corpses and body cavities. In contrast, blood and other body fluids are removed.
According to some sources and experts, the possibility of parting from the deceased who looks the same as before the sad event gives us the opportunity to part in the most appropriate way, which significantly helps in the mourning process.
What Is Extreme Embalming?
Extreme embalming is a procedure by which it is possible to temporarily preserve the deceased's body, in part or in full, and expose it on stage. It is performed with various chemical agents that slow down the decomposition and disinfect the tissue, and in case of need, enable the reconstruction and finishing of individual parts. In this way, family and friends can forever remember the image of a loved one as they remembered them through their life.
In some parts of the world, such as the United States, Australia, or New Zealand, embalming is an integral part of the burial. It is legally mandatory before the remains of their citizens who have died in other countries are transferred to their homeland. Also, it is necessary in cases when a longer time than usual will pass between the moment of death and the burial of the deceased.
Origin Of Extreme Embalming
The embalming process has a long history, with different cultures treating it differently, most often for religious reasons. The oldest evidence of embalming the dead is nearly 6,000 years old and was performed in the Atacama Desert in present-day Chile and Peru. The skill was perfected by ancient Egypt, where the deceased were embalmed for mummification purposes. The ancient Egyptians believed that a preserved body helped the soul to return to it more easily later, so extreme embalming was practiced by specially trained priests. The peoples of Tibet, the Maya, and the natives of Ethiopia and Nigeria possessed similar skills.
Although traces of extreme embalming dating back to 3,000 BC were found in the Spanish city of Osorno, this procedure came into widespread use in Europe only during the Roman Empire. Embalming reappeared during the Middle Ages, and during the Renaissance, it became extremely popular thanks to highly educated physicians and scientists like Leonardo da Vinci who conducted it.
Modern methods appeared in the 18th century with the development of chemistry that allowed the injection of various compounds into the arteries of the deceased to prevent tissue breakdown. Scottish surgeon William Hunter was the first to use extreme embalming as part of a funeral. Soon, it becomes a standardized process offered as part of funeral services, especially in cases where the body of the deceased must be exposed on stage.
War heroes who died far from their homes, such as Lord Nelson after the Battle of Trafalgar, are embalmed to be buried in their native land. Since the 19th century, with the advent of funeral homes, embalming has become a routine procedure to treat more and more deaths. It is interesting that before the burial, the bodies of bl. Pope John XXIII, Pope Pius X, Abraham Lincoln, Vladimir Lenin, Eve Perón, Kemal Atatürk and Princess Diana of Wales were embalmed.
When Is Extreme Embalming Performed?
Most Christians allow extreme embalming except for some branches of the Orthodox Church. Orthodox Jews forbid it because their deceased should be buried within 24 hours of death. Still, it is allowed in exceptional cases, so the final decision on embalming will be made by the rabbi of each community. Among Muslims, extreme embalming is not performed because, according to Islam, the body is sacred and should be buried as soon as possible in clean clothes and without a coffin.
When the family wants funeral services with a body present in an open coffin
Provide time for family members and loved ones to travel to the deceased's funeral and/or intercession
When the body has to travel a long distance for the final burial, as is the case with deaths abroad
Temporarily preserve the corpse for medical research or anatomical study
Ways To Do Extreme Embalming
To understand what extreme embalming is like, you must first find out how to perform this procedure. Today we know four options:
Arterial or vascular preservation
Cavity Extreme Embalming
In this case, the corpse's internal organs are removed because there begins the rapid decomposition in the body. There are two methods of processing: puncture and cut method. In the first case, punctures in the abdomen and any pleural cavity are made.
The specialist makes an injection and then pours the antiseptic solution into the holes. Usually, the volume of the liquid is 1.5 to 2.5 liters. In the case of the extreme embalming method of incision: the specialist performs a small cut to pass through the abdominal wall directly into the cavity. This method is used when long-term transportation of the deceased is required, and putrefaction has already begun, or if the body is fat.
Injection Extreme Embalming
This method is often performed with a puncture. There is an infiltration (impregnation) of the face, neck, and hands soft tissues with a particular antiseptic solution. It uses a small amount of liquid, and the mortician performs light massages on the body, necessary for the preservative to be evenly distributed.
Surface Extreme Embalming
It is performed in case the body has clearly visible damage or wounds on the skin. Then the body is coated with a unique liquid formulation.
Arterial Or Vascular Preservation
The solution of a particular preparation is administered through the arterial blood system. This method allows preserving the body of the deceased for a very long time. However, this technique is used very rarely, and not every embalmer can perform this because this method is very complicated.
Basic Solutions Used To Preserve The Body
The extreme embalming of persons is done with the help of a special liquid that is divisible into four categories.
Pre-injection solution- helps to release the circulatory system and restore skin color.
Pre-embalming solution - a fluid that is between the first and third groups. This solution contains up to 5% formalin.
Arterial embalming fluid - contains up to 15% formalin, carbolic acid - up to 20% glutaraldehyde, ethyl alcohol - 10% glycerin - 5% acetic acid - 0.5%, as well as colorants, for example, and eosin aromatic substance - up to 0, 5%.
End embalming solution - consists of a base as much as 30%, and sometimes more. This fluid is different from the arterial one.
Preparing The Body For The Procedure
We now learn in detail how the extreme embalming of the deceased is performed, but at the beginning is a preliminary organization of the process, which is as follows:
Before the extreme embalming, the deceased is completely stripped and put on a special table. The position is so that their head is above the resting organs.
Processing the body with disinfection. This specialist uses liquid agents and aerosols. All-natural openings of the deceased are erased and then anointed with a cotton swab soaked in disinfectant. The specialist completely washes the body with warm water and soap and bactericidal, followed by its complete drying.
Hair treatment. It can be washed, either at the beginning or the end of the extreme embalming. Hair is treated with warm water and soap or shampoo.
Shaving of the body. Facial hair removal is done in the direction of their growth.
Basics Of Extreme Embalming
As this process takes place in the morgue, for many, it remains a secret. Now, however, we can uncover the veil of mystery and briefly describe the whole process of events. Thus, the expert continues the main points after the preparatory procedures:
The embalmer necessarily closes the dead man's eyes. They do so with great caution. They are prone to falling and forming a cavity. Sometimes for this purpose, the expert uses a plastic cover. Some people think that dead eyelids are sewn up, but that is not the case. The expert can simply glue them.
The morgue worker closes the corpse's mouth, so it looked natural. And only in case they can sew or use special nozzles.
Hydrate. Professional smears a little cream on the eyelids and lips - so it protects them from drying out and gives naturalness.
This completed the basic preparation for such an event as embalming. How is the artery of the deceased treated? This will be explained below.
The specialist performs the incision. Then they enter the embalming solution, which draws blood from a vein or adjacent heart. The average consumption is 8 liters. The mixture is used as a solution of formaldehyde, water and other chemicals.
The embalmer performs incisions: men - near the sternum muscles of the collarbone- and women - in the thigh. Before the expert cleans the area where veins are, they break through and insert the pipe. To block the artery specialist uses tweezers and a clamp that stops blood flow.
The fluid enters through special. During this process, the morgue worker massages the exit limb of blood and introduces a solution. When the fluid reaches the arteries, with the help of pressure it passes through the veins.
The morgue worker must reduce the pressure slowly. And when only about 20% of the fluid is used, the embalmer moves the cannula to another artery. This is done so that fluid can fill in all the veins.
When the event comes to an end, the specialist turns the unit off, removes the cannula and bandages all the veins and arteries, which have been used.
Extreme Embalming Of The Body
Now that the arteries are prepared, the specialist begins to clean the chest, bladder, colon, and others. For this purpose, the worker uses Trocar.
The expert sucks the fluid out of the chest. For that, they insert Trocar 5 cm to the right and at the same distance, and above the navel. The specialist clears the hollow organs: stomach, small intestine and pancreas.
The morgue worker further cleans the lower cavities, sucking and pulling the contents of the colon, bladder and uterus in women. So that the fluid does not pass, sometimes wool is inserted into the anus and vagina.
Then the morgue worker enters the cavernous substance. In this case, the liquid typically consists of 30% formaldehyde. The same is needed to embalm the upper and lower body.
Final stage - the expert pulls the Trocar and seals the plastic screw hole.
Laying The Body In A Coffin
The final preparation of the body for the burial:
After performing all the morgue operations, the worker flushes the blood and chemicals from the bodies of the dead.
A professional cuts nails of the deceased, style the hair, use makeup to give the face a natural look.
The worker puts clothes on the deceased.
It lays the body in the coffin.
The words that remained unspoken got stuck in your throat the moment you found out that your interlocutor was no more. But this does not mean that this is not the last opportunity to say what you have been preparing for so long, what may have been taken for granted every day, and you have never said out loud. Love, gratitude, and admiration are just some of the emotions you need to get relieved from.
Extreme embalming allows you to express yourself through a proper final goodbye.