Is it Necessary to Embalm A Body Before Cremation?

If you recently lost a loved one, and you’re considering cremation for them, you may be wondering if it’s required or necessary to do an embalming prior to their cremation. As you navigate an emotionally complicated time, the last thing you need is to be bogged down understanding the requirements of different memorial services. So, we will break it down here, discussing what the practice of embalming entails and the role it plays in regards to cremation. 

What is Embalming and Why is it Performed

Embalming refers to a method of preserving the body of a deceased person using a process of disinfection and treating the body with a preservative solution in order to slow down the decomposition process.  

Delayed Memorial Service

Maybe, you have family members coming in from out of state to attend the funeral and therefore, there will be a couple of days in between your loved one’s passing and services. In such situations in which there will be a prolonged period of time in between a person’s death and their cremation, it is advisable to have the body embalmed first to preserve the body and slow down its decomposition. 

There Will Be a Viewing or Wake

If you are having a wake or viewing of the body, during which the family and loved ones will be able to observe the body of the decedent, it is customary to embalm the body prior to the service. Embalming will be usually followed by comsmetization and dressing in order to restore the body of the deceased into a state of how he or she appeared to look like before death to help remember your loved one as they appeared in life. 

Assist in Process of Grieving and Closure

As embalming helps preserve the body and slow down the process of decomposition prior to burial or cremation, it offers families a period of time in which they can observe the body of the deceased and say their final goodbyes. For many families, it is also a source of comfort to remember their deceased loved one in a state of how they appeared to look like in life. 

Legal Requirements

Depending on your state, there may also be regulations specific to your state that mandate embalming the body if it is not buried, cremated or refrigerated. In the instance that the body would need to be transported to cross state lines, it may then be legally required to have the body embalmed prior to transportation. 

It is legally allowed to hold a viewing of the body without embalming for only close family and friends, if you wish to do so. Prior to viewing, the body would be refrigerated or preserved in a cold storage. 

Do You Need to Have an Embalming Before Cremation? 

If you choose to have a direct cremation, which refers to the situation in which the body is transported straight to the crematorium to be cremated immediately and there is no funeral or memorial service, the body would not have to be embalmed. In such cases, there is also no viewing of the body prior to cremation. 

Usually, it is not required to have an embalming prior to a cremation and it is ultimately up to the personal choice of the family. It comes down to whether or not the family chooses to hold funeral or memorial services prior to cremation or after that will determine whether or not they should do an embalming.

Calculate funeral costs in your city or zipcode.