What happens when a body goes to the funeral directors?

Last Updated: 26th August 2022

What happens when a body goes to the funeral directors is a common question that is asked by many people.

This aims to answer that question so that anyone who is making arrangements for a funeral, either in advance or because they have lost a loved one recently can feel assured that funeral directors treat the deceased people in their care with the utmost dignity and respect.

Whilst it is often mysterious and unknown about what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors there is a system and specific processes put in place to deal with the funeral arrangements in order that the deceased person’s loved ones feel as comfortable as they can during what is a challenging and emotional life event.

Immediately, after a person’s death, the deceased person must be examined to confirm their death took place by natural causes. 

Depending on the circumstances, this can be done by a coroner or a medical examiner, and provided that the deceased person’s body can be released (they died of natural causes), they are transferred from their place of death to a funeral director (also known as a funeral home).

A deceased person is usually transferred in a specially converted private ambulance that can remain anonymous.  It is only for funeral ceremonies that a hearse is used to transport a deceased person.

The transfer crew responsible for collecting the deceased person will make a note and record of any valuables the deceased has on their person as well as establishing if the deceased person has a pacemaker fitted and if they died of an infectious disease.  They will note if the deceased person is heavy or overweight and if they have started decomposing in order to ascertain what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors.

The same personnel that collects the deceased person must confirm the identify of the deceased person and add an identification tag to the body before transferring them to the funeral director’s mortuary.  This identity tag remains with them throughout the process until they are finally laid to rest.

Once the deceased person has arrived at the funeral home’s mortuary, their details (such as their name, date of death, their age at death, their place of death, the date of transfer, who transferred the deceased body and the valuables on the deceased person) are recorded within the mortuary register.  This is kept permanently as a record and shows the deceased person being ‘signed out’ when they leave the funeral director’s mortuary to be taken to their final resting place.

A mortuary board (also known as the white board) helps to determine what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors when everyone in the funeral director’s mortuary has a clear view of it.  It is a big white board that includes the deceased person’s information such as: their name, if they are in a coffin, if they are clothed, any valuables they have on their person (and whether their valuables should be removed and returned to the deceased person’s next of kin or loved ones or remain with them when they are laid to rest), the date of their death, the date they arrived in the mortuary and any important notes that can help the mortuary staff care for the deceased person whilst in their care (including if they are heavy, died of an infectious disease, has fluids or has metal objects such as a pacemaker fitted that need to be removed before cremation takes place if applicable).

Once the mortuary board and mortuary register are as up-to-date as they can be, the deceased person’s body is then held in the funeral director’s mortuary fridge to preserve the deceased body.

It is often what the person has stated within their last wishes, or when planning their own funeral, as to what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors but it can also be left to the deceased person’s family or loved ones who have been appointed to deal with their funeral arrangements after their death to decide on what specific arrangements are to be followed or carried out.  This is discussed during the first meeting between the funeral director and the deceased person’s next of kin, family or loved ones.

The first question a funeral director is likely to ask when considering what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors is if the deceased person’s body should be embalmed.  The embalming of a deceased person is a process in which preserves the body and allows for public viewing so that the deceased person’s appearance can be naturally restored to resemble them peacefully.  A deceased person is often embalmed if their funeral service is not taking place for at least a few days.

Once the embalming process has taken place, what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors after that is that the deceased person is transferred to a crematory, if they have chosen to be cremated, or possibly to a third party provider if burial has been opted for.

If a deceased person is to be cremated, what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors is that any metal objects including a pacemaker, implants, fillings or any other metal objects, are removed before being cremated. 

“What happens when a body goes to the funeral directors?” is a question naturally asked of those making their own funeral arrangements in advance of their death or for those that people left behind that arrange a funeral for their deceased loved one. 

What is important to remember when considering what happens when a body goes to the funeral directors is that the funeral directors are professionals and highly skilled in what they do to ensure that a deceased person is treated with the respect and the utmost dignity at all times whilst they are in their care. 

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