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The Process From Hospital to Morgue to Mortuary or Funeral Home

In the very emotional hours after a person is pronounced dead, the family will be asked a number of questions, and the deceased body may be moved more than once to different facilities. Understanding this process, along with the decisions that will need to be made quickly, can prepare the family for what to expect in the hours immediately following the death. While this knowledge may not make the process any easier for the family, but you will at least understand what is taking place.

It’s not an easy subject to think about, when you’re still in shock over the news of a loved one’s death, but as part of the funeral planning, you need to understand what will be happening to the body of the deceased, where they will be taken, and the different services that different entities offer.

The Initial Handling of the Body

Often, a person is pronounced dead at a hospital or other medical facility, because they were being treated after an accident or other injury, or they were being cared for due to a medical condition. The family is notified of the death. Depending on the facility, they may allow the family to spend time with the deceased’s body in a private hospital room or similar place. This can be of huge comfort to the family. Sometimes a facility can’t accommodate the family having time to process their loss. In that case, the body will be taken to a morgue in the facility, or sent to a morgue at another site.

A morgue may need to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, depending on the circumstances. If they do, the body won’t be sent to a funeral home until the medical examiner has completed their inquiry. If the deceased doesn’t require an autopsy, then the morgue usually holds the body until the family has chosen a funeral home. The funeral home and the morgue will discuss the details for the transfer of the body.

Mortuaries and Funeral Homes: What’s the Difference?

The difference between a mortuary and a funeral home is that a mortuary is equipped to perform cremations, but a funeral home is not. If you know before the body leaves the hospital or morgue that you would like the deceased to be cremated, then the body can be taken to the mortuary instead of a funeral home. Whether the deceased will be buried or cremated is one of the decisions that will need to be made early in the funeral planning process.


Depending where you live and the local regulations, embalming may not be required if the deceased will be buried within a certain period of time. If the deceased is not to be cremated, then the funeral home will need to know what to do about embalming. Embalming is the process a funeral home uses to temporarily preserve the body so it can be viewed by the family. Embalming also allows the family more time before a funeral is required, to plan and allow out-of-town family and friends to travel for the funeral. These are part of the decisions that will need to be made during the funeral planning.

The Preparation of the Body for Viewing

The funeral home will take care of the deceased to prepare the body for viewing. This may entail washing the body and hair, and dressing the body for viewing. The family will need to decide as part of the funeral planning what clothes the deceased will be buried, and any other items such as jewelry, wedding ring, and glasses.

Jilli is a senior writer, editor and guest commentator, for Shout Agency, an award winning content marketing agency, specialised in search engine optimisation Melbourne services.

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