To Embalm or Not to Embalm

When you’re pre-planning your own funeral, a lot of questions arise that you have never considered before. Who do I want to give my eulogy? What picture do I want in my obituary? What would I like to be buried in?

Whether or not embalming is the right choice for you is another one of those questions you’ve probably never considered before. We have calculated the pros and cons in this post to help you make that pre-planning decision.

Everyone is embalmed…right?

When pre-planning a funeral, almost everyone assumes they will be embalmed before burial. That is our default procedure for a reason! When a person dies, their body immediately begins to stiffen and discolor. Eventually the corpse takes on an unpleasant and pungent smell. Embalming helps preserve the body by preventing much of this decomposition—at least for a time. When your body is embalmed and preserved, it can be laid out for viewing and look like you, resting peacefully.

Viewing the body of a loved one is a crucial step in the grieving process of many people—especially close family and children. When people suffer from complicated bereavement issues, oftentimes part of the problem is they never saw evidence of death. Embalming bodies helps loved ones accept what has happened because they see it with their own eyes. It cannot be understated what a difference this can make.

Why NOT embalm?  

The thing about draining a corpse of all its blood and replacing that blood with chemicals is…well, it’s unnecessary. Most states don’t require embalming unless a body hasn’t been buried more than 10 days after death (which, if you’re pre-planning your funeral, would not be the case for you). Funeral homes have refrigeration options that slow down the decomposing process and preserve the body until the viewing/funeral services can happen. When a person dies of natural causes, the only reason to embalm their body is to cosmetically improve the appearance of the corpse. Though rigor mortis sets in as early as 2 hours after death, the internal organs don’t begin to really decompose until about 3 days after death. Yes, it’s true that a decomposing body has some freaky things happen to it, but these things take a while to set in.

Embalming is expensive. To prepare the body by embalming it, you’re looking at about $600. To have your funeral home refrigerate a body, the average fee is more like $100. As you know during your pre-planning process, funeral fees add up quickly, so why spend money on something that can be avoided completely?

Besides, the fluid drained from these bodies just goes right down the drain into your public sewage system. So now you know that fun fact.

No matter what you decide to do, pre-planning your funeral is the best way to make these decisions because you are in control and can discuss these and other questions with your funeral director.

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