Embalming is the process of preserving a deceased person's body to provide emotional support for the family of the deceased. Embalming can present several hurdles, among them the following.
- Selecting the appropriate embalming chemicals and techniques: Different embalming chemicals and techniques are suitable for different types of bodies, and selecting the appropriate ones can be challenging. For example, if a person died of a communicable disease, extra precautions may need to be taken to prevent the spread of the disease.
- Dealing with decomposition: If a body has already started to decompose, it can be more difficult to embalm. In such cases, the embalmer may need to use stronger chemicals and take additional steps to preserve the body.
- Handling difficult bodies: Embalming a very large or very small body, or a body that has suffered significant trauma, can be challenging. In such cases, the embalmer may need to use special techniques to ensure that the body is preserved properly.
One evening I was confronted with extreme anasarca, generalized edema. The family had selected services that would not allow time for sufficient drainage of the tissue. To further complicate my task, the deceased was going to be dressed in traditional white garments that would easily be soiled by leakage of edematous fluid through pores in the skin.
Bodies with excessive moisture can be more difficult to embalm because the excess moisture can interfere with the effectiveness of the embalming chemicals. In such cases, additional steps are necessary to remove the excess moisture. This can include using drying agents or applying pressure to the body to remove the excess fluid. I knew I would need to use stronger embalming chemicals to compensate for the presence of excess moisture. As a trade embalmer, I always have embalming fluid with me for occasions like this. I knew I had Frigid Rigid (1-RIGID) and Frigid Leak Guard (1-LEAK) on hand and made a solution that totaled 3 gallons with 4 bottles of Rigid. I also added 24 ounces of Leak Guard. Leak Guard is designed specifically for edematous cases and has a glutaraldehyde base. This chemical has two aldehyde functional groups that are highly effective at reducing moisture, closing pores and firming tissues. Additionally, glutaraldehyde is effective at killing bacteria and other microorganisms, and it is also a strong cross-linking agent, which means it can help to preserve the structure of the tissue. I injected this solution through the right common carotid and took intermittent drainage. Distribution was good. I typically find bodies with excess moisture to have good distribution.
Because the body would be viewed within hours after the preparation I utilized plastic garments prior to dressing. (2-UNIOPLAS(XXL)). This would protect the white garments should there be any leakage of body fluids. I also sprinkled some Hardening Compound (1-HARD25LBS) into the plastic garments to absorb any leakage that might occur.The service was concluded with 24 hours of preparation. I eagerly waited to hear from the funeral director if the family was happy. According to her, there were no moisture problems with the body and the family made several positive comments on natural Mom’s natural glow. Using Rigid and Leak Guard as a one-two punch can be effective at preserving the body and preventing moisture problems. It is important to carefully follow the instructions for using these products and to take appropriate safety precautions.