We get a lot of questions that are based on misinformation from grieving families. We want to clear some things up so there’s no confusion as you execute your pre-need plans. Let’s talk about some common myths and misunderstandings that people have about the funeral industry.
You can have a viewing and still be cremated. It is actually quite common to have some sort of viewing ceremony when someone is cremated. This allows for family and friends to bid their loved one goodbye before the cremation process begins. Bodies can be embalmed and then cremated. You can also hold a “burial” service if you are burying the ashes or scattering them.
You don’t necessarily have to have a funeral director. Different states have different burial requirements and properly dealing with a cadaver is not an easy task, but it is not illegal to work without a funeral home. Of course, a funeral director is an advisor, a listener, a supporter and an organizer, and it’s helpful to have that person with the expertise and the resources to make the arrangements easier.
It is not required by law to embalm a body. The exception to that statement happens when a person dies from a contagious disease or when a body is transported across state lines. Without the embalming process, the body’s internal organs begin to decay immediately, and the external parts of the body decay and emit odors 2-3 days after death.
Cremation is not necessarily better for the environment. In terms of land space, cremation is obviously a better and more efficient option. However, crematorium furnaces burn at very high temperatures and it takes at least an hour to burn a body. Though crematoriums do release pollution into the air, compared to other sources of pollution (cars, factories, etc) the impact is minimal. If you are planning to bury the ashes, there are eco-friendly and organic mixtures that aid the decomposition of the remains.
The family may not be able to ride in the hearse with the body. It depends on the funeral home and their procedures, but it may not be permissible for anyone to accompany the casket in the hearse. This is a question for your funeral director.
You cannot scatter cremated remains just anywhere. If the location is a state or national park, they have jurisdiction and regulations regarding the scattering of ashes. If the land is not federally or state-owned, the city or town authority and laws should be consulted. To scatter ashes at sea, refer to the Code of Federal Regulations at 40 CFR 229.1 (PDF). All burials conducted shall be reported within 30 days to the EPA Region in writing. The following information should be included and mailed or faxed to your Region contact—find that information on this website.
We hope this post helps clear up a few questions you may have about this industry!