Deciding on what level of Mortuary Care

mortuary equipment

Mortuary Care is the term in the funeral industry for the treatments that morticians do to bodies to prepare them for viewings, cremations, burials or transportation. The most important thing to remember is that there are virtually no laws requiring mortuary care – you are in charge and get to decide. Nothing should be done to your loved one’s body without your authorisation.

Generally the funeral industry use several levels of mortuary care:

  • None (also know as essential care). In this case, the body is left in the clothing that they had on at the time the funeral director collected them. The body will be left in the body bag or plastic wrap and placed directly into the coffin prior to cremation or burial without any attention from a mortician. This is common practice for most “direct cremation” services.
  • Basic or Standard Care. The mortician will undress the body, wash them with cold water and dress them in clothing provided by the family (or the clothes they were in before or a shroud). Cotton wool will be firmly packed down the nose and throat. A strong cord will be threaded by needle through the jaw and the nose to pull the persons mouth closed. Little plastic cups with spikes are placed under the eyelids to keep the eyes closed. Sometimes a procedure of puncturing the abdomen is conducted to reduce bloating.
  • Temporary Preservation (also knows as a Partial Embalm). A small volume of mild preservation fluid (5-6L) is pumped through the arteries of the body and into the organ cavity through a small puncture above the naval. The body will be preserved for a few extra days with this method.
  • Full Preservation (also knows as embalming). The arteries of the body are emptied and a preservation fluid (usually formaldehyde) are pumped in. A metal tube is inserted just above the naval and the body fluids around and in the organs are removed and replaced with preservation fluid. All the mortuary care steps for Basic Care are also taken. Embalming takes 2 to 4 hours and is typically done by a trainee or trained embalmer.

Each mortuary care method has a different impact on the body and a different price tag. Have a think about what level of care you are comfortable with and give your authorisation for that level to your funeral director.

Note: It is legally required to embalm a body to travel overseas or when being interred in an above-ground vault or mausoleum in a Cairns Regional Council cemetery.

You may also be interested in...

Personal stories

Let other people know what you did (or didn’t do) when your friend or relative died. Your story might give someone an idea for when they organise a funeral or help when someone has died.

Please note: all stories have a pre-post check so won’t appear immediately.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We’d love to hear from you.

* Indicates mandatory field

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.