Is it Necessary to Embalm a Body?

Thinking about the details of how a body is handled after death isn’t something that comes up on a regular basis, but it’s important to know the basics. This allows you to accurately assess all of your options regarding the death of a loved one and your own wishes for a funeral someday. Embalming is a process that a lot of people aren’t too familiar with, but it’s a must-know topic when you’re in the position of planning a funeral. 

What Does Embalming Do? 

Embalming is a process that preserves the body before a funeral, viewing, or burial. Embalming uses specific chemicals to slow down the natural decomposition process. Bodies naturally bloat, change appearance, and have an odor after death. Embalming stops those steps before they happen so your loved one remains in a state more similar to how they looked when they were alive.

Is it Required? 

No, embalming a body is not required by law. It’s totally up to the deceased person’s wishes and their family to decide if their body should be embalmed. Embalming does raise the total cost of the funeral arrangements, so a family that’s really struggling with funeral costs may decide it’s not necessary. 

Why Families Choose to Embalm Their Loved One

Families usually choose to embalm their loved ones when they plan to have an open-casket service and viewing. Without embalming, an open casket would be very unsightly. The embalming process preserves the deceased as you knew them in life. This gives everyone a chance to see them looking peaceful and calm one last time before the burial. If the deceased suffered any injuries prior to their death, they can be repaired and covered during the embalming process. It’s nice to give the family and friends of the deceased a pleasant final image to remember that person by.


Especially for families that lose someone in a traumatic or unexpected way, being able to see them in the casket for yourself offers a unique kind of closure. Make is applied, bruises are covered, cuts are closed up, and the deceased will look almost like they’re just sleeping. A body that isn’t embalmed is usually only kept in a closed casket or cremated, which doesn’t provide that same level of close with a peaceful final image in mind.

Contact Hamel-Lydon Chapel

If you’re located in the Boston area and need assistance planning a funeral, contact Hamel-Lydon Chapel today. As the trusted funeral home in the Boston area, our experienced funeral directors can take you through every step of the process. From finding the right funeral plans to fit your budget to deciding about embalming, we’re here to make this difficult process at least a little bit easier. 

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