Sandy Poelvoorde, Boyd’s Funeral Services
When making final arrangements for a family member, often little thought is given to embalming. This is a common practice in provinces east of BC, but in this province, given the rise in cremation rates, many families feel embalming is superfluous or even unnecessary.
Yet there are still benefits to embalming. It allows for a more positive viewing experience overall, and allows greater control and flexibility over the type of arrangements that can be accommodated.
Generally, receiving visitors in a horizontal state is not conducive to looking one’s best – the flow of blood in our muscle tissues doesn’t just give us that nice healthy colour, it also keeps us from looking flat as we go about our daily lives.
This is where the art of embalming comes in and really proves its worth. Quick biology lesson: Blood is a tissue, and it is the first tissue that begins to break down after death. Embalming uses the body’s own circulatory system to replace that decaying tissue with a preservative that colours the capillaries and re inflates the cells flattened by loss of blood pressure. It is the ultimate face lift.
Because embalming chemicals create a temporary preservative, decomposition is delayed, allowing families time to travel, or have more time to be with their loved ones.
Viewing a body that is not embalmed is often possible, but the colour will be different, the features may appear thinner or even drawn due to gravity, and time becomes a paramount concern. You won’t have a lot of it and viewing arrangements need to be done as soon as possible.
With the increased skill level of today’s embalmer, coupled with modern invention, it is now possible to provide reconstruction and viewing for most traumatic death cases long dismissed in the past as “un viewable”.
Today’s embalming fluids are also formaldehyde-free and the vast majority will break down over the natural course of time, thus creating a look that will be more natural in appearance, but not timeless.
Sandy Poelvoorde is the owner of Boyd’s Funeral Services Ltd. She can be reached at 250.287.2240 or online at campbellriverfunerals.com.