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This section is dedicated to addressing the various funeral home related questions that people have asked over the years. The funeral service profession is unique in that most people do not know much about it. I have found that many people are intrigued by the seemingly mysterious awe that surrounds the funeral profession or have questions that they really would like to be answered. In this section I will try to address all things funeral home related. Please note that some questions concern laws that vary from state to state. The answers I provide are those that pertain to Pennsylvania and should in no way considered legal advice (leave that to the Lawyers) or assumed to be 100% accurate (I make mistakes too). Enjoy!

Let us start off with a really common one.

Q: Does everyone need to be embalmed?

A: No! This is probably the most confused issue facing the funeral profession. The Federal Trade Commission has mandated that every funeral home must have a General Price List (GPL). In that GPL there is a mandatory disclosure under the preparation section which reads "Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with a viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as immediate burial or direct cremation." I believe this disclosure was intended to make consumers aware that embalming is usually an option not a requirement. But the wording is a bit confusing because it tried to allude to many different scenarios and was enacted at the federal level( it applies to all states). The simplest way to look at embalming is that it is an option "except in certain special cases." My mortuary school days taught me that embalming was to Disinfect, Preserve, and Restore in order recreate natural form and color of the deceased. If none of these things apply to your choice of disposition, you donít usually need to be embalmed. Most people choose embalming in services that include a public viewing that is beyond 24hours after death. Since most cemeteries require, 48hr notice to open a grave embalming makesí sense. Even in this case, refrigeration can be substituted for embalming. Keep in mind that not all funeral homes are equipped with refrigeration and it will only slow down the micro organisms associated with decomposition, disinfection and restoration are limited. Depending on the length of time in refrigeration, embalming could have been a more cost effective solution. People are usually free to choose or not to choose embalming as a personal preference or religious custom. Many of the "special cases" involve public health and/or transport issues. The bottom line is that most people choose embalming because it produces the best results for the service that they wish to have.


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