When Is Embalming Necessary?

Quite often when a loved one passes away and the funeral arrangements are underway, the topic of embalming will be discussed. The funeral home will often suggest it, but it's generally an optional extra. It's not required for the majority of burials or cremations, but there are instances when it might become necessary. So when is it optional, and when is it required?

When Embalming Is Not Recommended

Typical burials or cremations don't require embalming, and it's very much a personal choice. There are, in fact, some instances when embalming can prevent some types of burial, such as a natural burial (which is often also called a green burial). This is when someone is buried in an area designated especially for the purpose. This is often a woodland or landscape that doesn't resemble a traditional graveyard. The body is essentially returned to nature, and burial at such a site is usually only possible without embalming. If your loved one stipulated that they wanted a natural burial, embalming should be avoided.

When Embalming Is Optional

Instances when embalming is optional (but can be wise) include a significant delay between death and burial or cremation. Most funerals take place shortly after the person passes away, but this isn't always the case. There's no obligation to hold a funeral as soon as possible, and it might be delayed in order to allow everyone who wishes to attend ample time to travel. Embalming can also be of assistance when there will be an open casket funeral, as this allows your loved one to look as lifelike as possible.

When Embalming Is Required

In limited circumstances, embalming might be mandatory. Your funeral home can advise you about this. Although most burials involve the person actually being placed in the earth, with the grave dug to a certain depth. This depth can vary from state-to-state, with NSW requiring graves to be dug to a depth of only 900 millimetres. When your loved one will be buried aboveground (such as in a crypt or mausoleum), embalming can be mandatory, depending on state legislation. When a death occurs in one state and the funeral will take place in another (or in another country entirely), embalming might be required before the remains can be transported.

Embalming is usually an optional extra, except in those circumstances when it's legally required. And in some cases, embalming isn't recommended at all, so be sure to carefully consider your options.

For more information, reach out to a local funeral home.