Ever since the beginning of mankind, civilized cultures all have one specific thing in common. They all practice a dignified disposition of their loved ones who die. In fact, Robert G. Mayer, author of a widely used embalming text book writes in his text that "the art and science of embalming has been performed, in one form or another, for well over 5500 years." Of course the methods of embalming have varied greatly over course of time; however one important aspect for many of these practices is the ability for our species to scientifically preserve the remains of the dead human body. In more modern times, mankind has come to understand this process to be known as embalming.
Without diverting too much from the topic at hand, it is important to note the writing of well known literary poet, William Evart Gladstone:
Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land, and their loyalty to high ideals.
Regrettably, over the course of time, the dignity linked to the reverence for a dead person has been diminishing over the course of time. Although society is far from a crisis concerning this issue, it should be brought to light that over time, this could become a problematic social issue. What is even more alarming is that this is an issue that is widely ignored. There is no social movement or governmental movement to restore the dignity surrounding the deferential nature of death.
Embalming is and both an art form as well as a science. The careful hands of an embalmer are frequently needed to disinfect, preserve and restore the remains so that the dead body is not only safe from a health standpoint for a public viewing, but also returning the remains to a familiar likeness. It is also important for the body to be preserved; however, preservation of the dead remains is to a large extent temporary.
Embalming is broadly divided into three general categories. These three categories and specifically designed to meet the three goals outlined in the preceding paragraph. Without one of these categories, one, two or all three of the goals of embalming can not be achieved. The three steps are disinfection, injection, and restoration.
The process of disinfection is ordinarily done first. The bodies' orifices are sprayed with a cleaning solution and wiped clean with cotton. Also done in this process are what embalmers call "setting the features." This is a process where the embalmer uses choice techniques to close the mouth and eyes of the deceased and "sets" the features to the natural likeness as in life. This might include rebuilding the mouth with cotton or a mouth former. Often teeth are missing and require a great deal of time and detail to achieve this natural life-like image. It is also a common practice for many embalmers to fully bath the remains with a disinfectant soap,...