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Interesting Facts About Embalming

Funeral Director, Funeral Homes

I know most people do not really want to talk about death and dying or what happens when someone dies, but have you ever wondered about embalming? Maybe you were afraid to ask. Well, if you really want to know what embalming is, if it is required by law, and what about the cost, read on.

Embalming is defined as the procedure in which a body is completely emptied of blood and gases and then substitute fluids are siphoned into the body. This is done to slow the time in which a body is decomposed. We all know from attending friends and relatives funerals, that embalming is a rather common practice. But did you know that embalming is usually not even necessary nor required by law? Most people do not know that. Most customers request that it be done, especially if a traditional funeral is being held with the casket open for viewing the body.

As most of us know, there has never been a type of preservation fluid that has been able to preserve a body indefinitely. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule states that funeral directors cannot tell customers that it can be done. As an example, funeral directors are not able to state that either a certain kind of casket or embalming the body will maintain the deceased forever. Additionally, the funeral director has to explain why they charged for embalming. In fact, a funeral home can only charge for embalming if a family member or authorized person agrees to it or if city or state law requires that it be done. Also, the embalming must be done by a licensed embalmer in the United States and most funeral homes have them on staff.

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In the case of an autopsy being done, they remove the vital organs and submerge them in the embalming fluid. They are later inserted back into the body and the organs usually are surrounded by a type of preservative powder. If an autopsy is not done, the embalmer draws out the fluids in the body cavity by creating a small cut close to the navel and drawing out the body fluids.

Sometimes embalming is required such as in the case of the body being transferred by train or plane from one country or state to another. Also, if for some reason there is more than a week’s time between the death and the cremation or burial, embalming is required. Embalming is also required if the person died from a communicable illness if the embalming will shield people from it, but that is a particularly uncommon situation. State laws do differ on embalming.

If the body is not embalmed, it will decompose in just a couple of days instead of weeks if it had been embalmed. Some religions do not allow embalming, so as an option, the funeral home can refrigerate the body. This will slow the body’s decomposition until the viewing or until cremation or burial. Most funeral homes and hospitals have designated areas for refrigerating or holding bodies.

Depending on where the embalming is done and the place where it is done at, the cost of embalming can range from $100 to $700. If the refrigeration method is chosen instead, the daily charge is only about $20 and some facilities do not charge at all.

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So that is a simple explanation of some of the facts concerning embalming. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.