Funeral directors, also known as morticians or undertakers, are responsible for helping family members arrange burials and memorial services for deceased loved ones. Properly preparing bodies for viewing and burial requires extensive scientific knowledge and special equipment. Processes differ depending on whether the deceased will be cremated or embalmed.

Embalming

Embalming is a complicated process designed to prevent the spread of disease and delay tissue decomposition. It can only be performed by a licensed professional. First, the funeral director will clean and disinfect the body. Then, a preservative fluid is injected into the deceased's arterial system while blood is drained from a major vein. A tube is then inserted into the body cavity to remove gas and liquids and inject a preservative chemical. The body is washed and dressed after embalming is complete. Cosmetics are often applied to improve the appearance of the deceased.

Cremation

Some funeral homes have their own crematory, while others use a third party. For cremation, morticians will place the body into a casket or approved container. This will then be placed into the cremation chamber, which will reach temperatures exceeding 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. After two hours, all organic material will have been lost to the heat and only bone fragments will remain; these are processed into fine particles, placed into an urn and given to the deceased's family. Remains may be embalmed prior to cremation if the family requests a viewing.