What does the funeral director do to prepare the body for a funeral?

If there will be a funeral viewing or wake, the body of the deceased may need to be embalmed within approximately eight hours after death, although embalming is only done with family consent. It is always a good idea to use the deceased's own clothes although some funeral homes will provide clothing at an additional cost. When selecting clothes, you want to include underclothing and shoes.

Even though only the top half of the body will be displayed or viewed, it is a matter of dignity to clothe your loved one's entire body. For a woman, you may want to take along her own makeup and wig, if one was worn. You should direct the funeral home to apply makeup lightly or inform them of how she normally wore the makeup.

If you have a photograph with the deceased wearing makeup, you should bring that to the funeral director so they can get an idea of how she wore her hair and how the makeup was applied.

Generally, the body at the viewing will not look like the person you remember and may not even look real to you. If the deceased had known much pain and suffering, their face as they lay in the casket, will seem at peace which may be a relief to you and others.

If the viewing or wake is held as part of the funeral service, it is traditionally done at the end of the service. Attendees who wish to view the body will file slowly past the open casket/coffin. Some will take a brief glance while others may stop for a moment longer to bid a final and quiet goodbye.