We believe that our most important service to a bereaved family is to provide them with an opportunity to view their loved one in a dignified and respectful manner. In order for this to occur, although not a requirement, we would recommend that the deceased is embalmed and hygienically treated.
This is a process carried out that in its simplest form slows down the decomposition cycle which can affect the appearance of the deceased. In allowing us to carry out this process it provides the time required to prepare and care for your loved one so that you, the grieving family, are given the opportunity to spend much needed time to help you come to terms with your loss.
Through experience we have learned how important it is for you to know that your loved one has been given the attention they deserve to ensure that they look their best. Preparation for any special occasion in life takes time, and death is no exception. Our attention to detail means that the dignity of the deceased is maintained at all times.
The following article was written by David McGowan, Embalmer, Funeral Director, McGowan's Funeral Home, Ballina, Co. Mayo, and international keynote speaker on the subject of Embalming and Hygienic Treatments:
"Each person responds to death in an individual way. We all grieve in a different way, and each of us has to find a way to cope with our loss. This can be an extremely difficult time for a bereaved person, especially if different family members or friends are coping with the loss in a very different way.
When we lose someone, we recall them to memory as we have last seen them. This picture of them lasts for a long time in our minds. If we don’t get to see the person after death, and prior to the funeral, it can promote denial of the fact that the person is gone from this world. This is why, when possible, it is important to see the deceased person. It is equally important to ensure that the deceased person looks as natural as possible.
If a person has parted this life under very tragic circumstances, it may be advisable not to see the deceased unless the funeral director can provides the service whereby an attempt is made to restore the deceased person to a natural poise. In the natural world, decomposition is a normal process. Following death, it is normal for the remains of the deceased to begin to decompose. The rate of decomposition is governed by many factors, which vary from one deceased person to another. Metabolism of the deceased person, cause of death, medication used prior to death and room temperature are all factors which affect and contribute to the decomposition process. Therefore, in order to afford all family members, and friends time in the company of the deceased person, it is a good idea to delay the decomposition process.
Embalming, or hygienic treatment of the deceased as it is more accurately described, is a very effective way of slowing down the decomposition process. Hygienic treatment involves the injection of fluid which contains a chemical solution which will retard decomposition. This treatment coupled with the way in which the embalmer or funeral director presents the deceased (i.e. hair, face, clothes etc) aims at presenting the deceased as he/she would have presented him/ herself on any special occasion in life. Hygienic treatment should normally preserve this natural appearance for the duration of the funeral.
The whole process normally takes from two to four hours, and may require many more hours in the case of a traumatic death, where specialised work is carried out, if feasible, in order to restore facial features of the deceased person. Hygienic treatment is also important from the point of view of health of the living. While some believe that it is important to face the stark reality of death and decomposition, (and such opinions are also to be respected), we cannot ignore health risks associated with not hygienically treating the remains of a deceased person.
If death has been caused by a contagious illness, we cannot presume that the infection has died with the person. Also, there are some infections, which develop post death in rare cases and contribute to decomposition. Some of these can prove fatal if contracted by the living - either relatives/ friends of the deceased, those working with the deceased person.
Hygienic treatment greatly reduces these health risks, enabling family and friends of the deceased to spend precious time in the presence of the remains before the funeral. This quality time can be a solace for the bereaved person. It may, at a later stage, play a vital part in helping him/her to deal with the great loss which has been experienced. Losing a loved one is a harsh and painful reality to have to face. Persons working with the bereaved (healthcare professionals, voluntary organisations, funeral directors, embalmers etc.) are all dedicated to helping relieve this great burden in whatever way they can".