A few hours after a person dies, their body goes through a process of rigor mortis, where the body stiffens to the point that it is very hard to move individual body parts. To prepare for this, the funeral director or employee of the funeral home will wash the body, move the hands and feet to the appropriate position, and tie clothes around the body to keep it in the correct position.
To prepare the body for burial, a funeral director or, in the case of a hospital, a mortician, must inject the dead body with embalming fluid. These are preservatives which keep the body from decomposing before burial by retarding bacterial growth. If the body is being buried above ground, in a tomb or a vault, or is kept for any length of time without refrigeration by a funeral home, embalming is required by law.
The appearance of the body for the funeral is also important. In funeral homes, an employee will prepare the body according to the wishes of the dead person's family. They will sometimes apply make-up to make the body appear more lifelike and dress the body in appropriate clothes.