Answers to Your Questions on Death and Dying

sunset in the forest

We’re initiating this blog on death and dying by addressing one of the most common circumstances we run into when talking with people about a person nearing the death transition.

The question is a variation on the following: “My father is in his last stages and doesn’t want to talk about funeral and burial arrangements, and the rest of the family wants to use a funeral home which would mean embalming, which I think is very intrusive. Is there anything I can say to convince them that we should avoid embalming?”  

Judy Wendling: Using a funeral home does not necessarily mean embalming. Anyone has a choice about whether the deceased is embalmed or not. If there is to be a viewing at the funeral home, however, embalming may be required. And if the body is to be transported across state lines, embalming would also be required. But generally you have a choice of services to be performed by a funeral home.

As far as convincing other members of the family that embalming is not the best option, it’s important to understand that there will often be differences of opinion, and it‘s most important that the dying person be served in a supportive atmosphere, free of conflict. The dying person may be able to sense conflict, even if no one talks about it in their presence.

So you may want to talk with your family about avoiding embalming, but not feel the need to push the issue if they are not receptive.

In that context, you may find some of the following helpful:

In Easy Death, Avatar Adi Da Samraj says that death is not an end, but a transition during which the subtler aspect of the individual being must separate from the gross body. So it is optimal to have the body kept largely undisturbed during this process, and embalming is invasive and potentially disturbing to the one who has died. The person is still identified with their body for some time after death, and it takes up to three days for the being to completely let go and move on—or for the etheric body to separate from the physical. Avoiding embalming, when possible, eases this process.

As with all entries and answers on this blog, we welcome everyone’s suggestions and comments. Please see our Comment Policy.

4 comments for “Answers to Your Questions on Death and Dying

  1. peter
    January 8, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    hello

    It would be good to have definitions as you go along. For instance I don’t know what embalming is? Please explain words as you go along, no cross references. thank you

    • Judy
      Judy
      January 14, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Peter

      Good suggestion. As far as your question goes, embalming is commonly done in the United States by funeral home staff, but is rarely done in other countries. The process consists of draining blood from the veins and arteries and replacing it with a chemical solution for the purpose of temporary preservation of the body. The abdominal cavity may also be filled with the chemical solution. Embalming is only required in certain circumstances in the United States, so for the most part, one may choose whether or not to have it done.

      Judy

  2. D
    January 9, 2015 at 4:08 am

    You do not need to use a funeral home. You can use a cremation service and still have a funeral on your own

  3. ken young
    January 9, 2015 at 5:55 am

    I appreciate the information being offered. Working as a hospice medical social worker for many years, I was often struck by how little we know about this last chapter in this realm. It is so helpful to have accurate information for those who are participating in this precious process.
    Thank you for the heart-work.

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