For families planning a public visitation, embalming is recommended. The process of embalming is considered to be the most
successful practice of preparation for the viewing of a loved one’s body.
By definition, embalming is “the process of chemically
treating the deceased human body to reduce the presence and growth of
microorganisms, delay organic decomposition and restore an acceptable physical
appearance.” A loved one’s physical appearance is an important part of what
makes a viewing/visitation a meaningful experience for all who attend.
Your loved one’s body is the most important symbol present
during a viewing/visitation. The process of embalming – and sometimes further
efforts through reconstruction – promotes a more natural look and a healing final impression of your loved one.
Viewings, Visitations and Funerals
Honoring and remembering a loved one’s life is an important part of
the healing journey. Regardless of what a family decides for a loved one’s
final resting place, a meaningful event to say goodbye can be beneficial,
whether it is in a private setting or with extended family and friends. The
opportunity to spend final time with a loved one will help those who are
grieving acknowledge the reality of the death and receive caring support from
others. Our funeral home is committed to helping families plan a fitting
tribute honoring a loved one’s life.
Honoring and Remembering a Loved One
Many families that decide to commemorate their loved one’s life,
sharing their fondest memories and allowing others to share memories as well,
will choose to have a visitation with their loved one’s body present. A
visitation allows family and friends to reflect on how the loved one affected
their life and encourages the sharing of stories. Viewing a loved one’s body
during this time may evoke strong emotions. Saying goodbye and expressing those
emotions in a convenient setting surrounded by others who share feelings of
sadness is part of a healthy grieving process.
Is embalming required by law?
Generally, embalming is not required by law. However, many
states require that a body be either embalmed or refrigerated within a certain
time period after death has occurred. The funeral home or cemetery may also
have an embalming requirement for certain types of arrangements, such as when
there will be a public viewing of the deceased. You always have the option to
select alternative arrangements that do not require embalming.
Should everyone be embalmed?
There are important considerations unique to each family
that affect end-of-life service decisions following the death of a loved one.
Your family’s funeral director will explain the choices for funeral services
and/or memorial events and when embalming would be beneficial to create a
suitable physical appearance.
What if my loved one experienced extreme trauma?
It is often assumed that extreme trauma precludes the viewing
of the deceased. Depending on the circumstances, reconstruction and/or
restorative procedures may be necessary in order to achieve a more natural and
acceptable appearance suitable for viewing. After a careful evaluation of the
human remains by a licensed embalmer, both the funeral director and embalmer
can help determine the best course of action to restore the deceased’s physical
What are some circumstances in which embalming is optional?
- Cremation with no viewing
- Private family viewing
- Immediate burial with no viewing
- Identification of human remains
- Religious beliefs that prohibit embalming
What are some circumstances in which embalming should be
Embalming is recommended when a public viewing/visitation is
selected. The embalming process not only helps maintain a suitable appearance
but allows those planning the funeral or memorial to have some flexibility in
scheduling the event.
Who makes the decision as to whether a person is embalmed?
The person who holds the right of disposition under state
law is the person who authorizes embalming. Typically, if embalming has not
been authorized by the decedent in a preneed contract or other directions that
are binding under state law, the survivor who holds the right to arrange the
funeral under state law will decide whether the remains are to be embalmed.
How much does it cost to embalm a body?
The cost for embalming varies among funeral homes.
Additional costs may apply if reconstruction and/or restorative procedures are
What happens if a body is not embalmed?
If a body is not embalmed or kept in a climate-controlled
environment, the process of decomposition begins. Decomposition is most evident
though odor, physical changes to the body and/or discoloration.
How long does an embalmed body last?
Even though the embalming process delays decomposition, it
does not stop this natural process. Other determining factors such as environmental conditions and the manner in which someone died can directly
affect the condition of the human remains.