Preparing the Deceased for Viewing or Visitation

Casket

The time we spend caring for someone’s needs, does not end with death. There are many questions that must be answered after a loved one has passed and some of those questions revolve around preparation and proper disposal of the body. An individual’s death can be just as unique as their life and having the right information will help you be informed as you make those important decisions.

Preparation of a deceased human body can be carried out in many forms. There will be an option that will satisfy your needs, meet your religious and personal beliefs, and correctly represent the life of your loved one.

What Happens to the Body After Death?

The body is removed from the place of death and brought back to the funeral home. Before anything is done, the funeral home staff will obtain your permission and should explain what exactly will be done. If they do not, you should feel at liberty to ask.

The first step, regardless of what type of disposition that you choose, is bathing and disinfecting the body. This is done not only for the safety of the funeral home staff, family and friends, but also for dignity and respect of the deceased. A human body starts to change immediately after death occurs and bathing and disinfecting are necessary.

The next steps are ultimately decided by the family or friends in charge of arranging services. The body can be prepared and embalmed for traditional services (see Embalming below), dressed and placed in refrigeration for cremation, prepared for body donation or green burials, or arrangements can be made for transport to another state via ground or air travel. In the case of accidental or traumatic death, autopsy, or organ donation, special services may be required to provide restoration to the body.

After disposition has been chosen and the preparation has been completed, you will need to consider clothing and other mementos such as jewelry and glasses. Options will vary depending on your previous choices. Some religious beliefs will dictate simple garments or particular outfits or you may be free to choose any style of clothing. You may use clothing previously worn by the individual or you may purchase new clothing. When it comes to jewelry and mementos, keep in mind that anything you place with the deceased such as wedding rings, glasses, tie clips, etc., can always be returned to you before the final disposition takes place. These items can be for temporary viewing purposes or they can be left with the individual indefinitely. It is up to you.

The final step is preparing the body for private or public viewing. Cosmetics will be applied and the hair will be styled according to your wishes.

Always keep in mind that when making these final decisions, you have countless options. Aside from the basics, you can dictate to your funeral service professional exactly what you want when it comes to your loved one.

View Additional Pages

Interment Arrangements
Cremation
Embalming
DNA Sampling
Autopsy

Go to Funeral Guide — Index of Topics.