Reasons to Consider Cremation Without Embalming

Embalming slows the process of the body’s natural decomposition, but it may be an unnecessary step on the journey to the crematorium.
Reasons to Consider Cremation Without Embalming

If you plan to cremate your dearly departed, it’s understandable that you may be concerned with maintaining the integrity of their remains up until that point. The truth is, the whizz-bang refrigeration facilities available these days do a lot of the heavy… preserving.

It’s also worth considering that we’ve come a long way since embalming first originated. That is, since ancient Egyptian times(!). They did it a lot differently back then – think sand and charcoal to dehydrate the remains and replacing internal fluids with aromatic resins and perfumes. Fancy! The Egyptians’ beliefs and motives might’ve also varied a little from ours – they believed that religious resurrection could only occur for bodies preserved intact. 

Remind me, what is embalming?

Modern day embalming in Australia involves injecting specifically formulated fluid into the body. That’s the embalming fluid that’s responsible for delaying the breaking down of the tissue. There are, however, a few steps leading up to this.

The body must first be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant and then massaged to offset the stiffening of the muscles that occurs due to chemical changes after death. Then, depending on the choice of arterial embalming or cavity embalming, blood is either taken from the veins or natural fluids drained from the chest and abdomen. The embalming solution then replaces the blood or the internal fluids respectively. The body also undergoes some final cosmetic touch-ups including bathing, dressing and grooming.

A body can also be partially embalmed. This only improves appearance for a few days, however it is significantly faster and doesn’t use the same type of flammable, corrosive and highly toxic chemicals.

So, can we just skip the embalming step?

Well, if it’s the right option for you, you definitely can. The general sentiment out there may have you feeling like you need to keep your loved one looking their best until the very end (it is their end-of life party after all, right?). But in reality, embalming is only really required when there are going to be a number of days between the person’s death and their final burial.

Embalming can allow the family a little more time to honour their loved one, especially if there is going to be an open-casket viewing or if the body needs to be transported for some distance. It may also help with the grieving process in some cases. But, aside from these reasons to embalm, there is a pretty strong case for cremation without embalming.

The case for not embalming

Cremation without embalming actually has its advantages. Here are a few that might help you with your decision:

It’s environmentally friendlier 

As we mentioned, embalming – while sounding like a very nourishing and wholesome word – does in fact involve harsh formaldehyde-based chemicals that are required to temporarily preserve the body.

Of course, these don’t harm the body being treated with them, however it’s important to consider the mortuary workers, who must work with these substances daily. Another thing to consider is that if the body is buried in a coffin rather than being cremated, these chemicals can seep into the ground and waterways, causing further disturbance to the surrounding environment.

It’s less invasive 

Without going into too much detail, the process of embalming does quite literally involve re-arranging the deceased’s insides. It’s somewhat ironic that the point of the whole procedure is to keep things intact!

Aside from the replacement of internal fluids, there are caps and glue used to maintain the position of the eyelids, and the jaw is typically wired shut. The mouth may also be manipulated with adhesives in order to set a natural expressive look on the face. Choosing direct cremation, or cremation without embalming may not guarantee that post-mortem facelift, but it may give peace of mind that there wasn’t too much meddling in the morgue.

It’s economical 

On a more practical note, choosing cremation without embalming over traditional or other funeral options may also be better for your back pocket. The price difference in this case can come down to the lack of need for embalming tools, chemicals or labour, which all add up at a difficult (and often costly) time. Paying just for what is necessary in the cremation process means there are more financial resources put aside to ensure your loved one is remembered in the way they wished.

Wrap up

Embalming doesn’t necessarily complicate matters, but it does add a layer of thought and expense that may not otherwise be required, especially if cremation is the preferred way of farewelling your loved one. Willed can help you curate the right package for your needs, including transportation of the body, preparation for cremation, a dignified memorial as well as the return of your loved one’s ashes. We’re all about affordable cremations to simplify saying goodbye. Call us on 1300 945 533 so we can assist you.


Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, medical, accounting or tax advice.

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