Is It Essential To Embalm A Loved One For Their Funeral?

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During your initial meeting with the funeral director who will be making the arrangements for your loved one's farewell, you'll be asked a series of questions. These help to determine your wishes for the service. One question you'll be asked is if you require your loved one to be embalmed. Please remember that this could be a requirement but may not in fact be essential.

The Embalming Process

Embalming a loved one prior to their funeral is a requirement that depends on your personal circumstances. The practice involves the strategic injection of embalming chemicals, which are typically a combination of formaldehyde, methanol, and glutaraldehyde. These chemicals act as a preservative for organic tissues, which in terms of a funeral, help to create a natural or lifelike appearance for the deceased. Funeral homes perform embalming on the premises, and the whole process takes (on average) from two to four hours. 

When It Can Be Necessary

Arguably, embalming has considerable merits when the appearance of the deceased will be noted—during an open casket funeral or when there's a viewing (also known as a visitation) prior to the funeral. Depending on scheduling, there may be a delay between when your loved one passes away and the date of their funeral. A delay can be necessary to allow mourners ample time to travel. In this case, the preservative effects of embalming can be useful.

It's a Personal Decision

Not all circumstances warrant embalming, and it's important to remember that it's a useful service in many cases but is by no means mandatory in all cases. If your loved one is to be cremated, you may not feel that the effort of embalming is warranted. This is very much a personal decision. The same can apply in a closed casket funeral service when your loved one's remains will not be viewable. It's also important to note that embalming isn't the only way to preserve your loved one's remains.

Other Forms of Preservation

Funeral homes keep remains in appropriate storage conditions, and this is cold storage. This temperature helps to preserve human remains and can do so for an extended period if needed. This form of preservation can be more than adequate if your loved one's remains will only briefly be on display—for example, during a funeral service that isn't preceded by a visitation. 

Depending on your wishes for the funeral, your chosen funeral home will be able to give you options—and embalming can be one of these helpful options.

Contact a funeral home to learn more.