To Embalm or Not to Embalm

This article was written by LifeAdmin, on April 24, 2018

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.

man in orange bow tie shrugging shoulders

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.

Educating Your Prospect

As a preneed insurance agent, making arrangements with families is often the first time an individual has carefully considered each step of the funeral process. It’s important to walk them through the process and provide the education on subjects like embalming, and any additional options they could consider. Providing valuable information and education builds trust with not only your customer, but also builds confidence in their purchase decision.

11 thoughts on “To Embalm or Not to Embalm

  1. I’m on the fence and extremely confused on this issue and now, I’ve come to realize religious reasons are an element. Can you help me?

  2. My sister was diagnosed with glioblastoma and had a tumor removed from her brain in May of 2018 so essentially she is on borrowed time at this point being 14 months into the surgery. Planning her funeral she does not want to be embalmed but the funeral home says it’s their policy, period. I absolutely despise the manipulation of families into spending money unnecessarily. I think it should be a choice the family makes, not the funeral director.
    This is an article I will share and hopefully they will visit a different funeral home, and have different results.
    Thank you for this information

  3. Average cost of all in one day funeral no embalming showing for 2 hours prior to service and cremation?

  4. I work as a funeral director and I’m amazed at how little people want to know about embalming especially that most of the time it does not need to happen to their loved one who has died and that the cost of preserving their deceased comes at a cost to the integrity of their deceased. Flushing their blood and other body liquids down the same drain that our sewage and waste water goes and replacing that fluid with chemicals. The fact that to remove some fluids requires the use of a trocar. My though is, I want to treat our deceased with the same level or respect as we do our living and this is why I have created an eco-friendly funeral service with a conscience as a rule we do not embalm, we use natural alternatives only. Thank you for your website and your information. Cheers Karyn


  6. I was not even asked if I wanted my son embalmed and he had a closed casket the funeral director advised us not to view my son he died of cancer and wasn’t creamated for 3 weeks

  7. I belive in letting go, therefore I want my family to let me go without any preparation. My looks have never mattered, every one is aware of it. I also don’t want or need ‘viewing process’. Just turn my body to ashes in be done with it RIGHT AWAY.
    Thank you for your website. My inner energy salutes you all.

  8. I also know u all use all natural coffin not steel of any kind.I like this idea.I still don’t like the idea that my body will be burned either.laws is designed for money.head stones and markers out of this world just greed.I’m going to look into the all natural casket.I want to be natural as possible.why put the body through stinky products.I want to meet my ancestors w a clear understanding of knowing who they are w no harsh chemicals.u have to think about it we have already been through a lot living earthly life w doctors and their harsh question can I have this in writing if going to hospital for any reason no medication no morphine just all natural herbs from a family member to get pass my time.have worked in hosp other places I do know drs will slip in bodies for a dollar from pts ins.for me it’s best to pass at home so family member will know what’s in that pt.’s body.

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