Embalming--The Basics of Embalming and Funeral Services
Embalming is the funeral custom of cleansing and disinfecting bodies after death. As far back as the ancient Egyptians, people have used oils, herbs and special body preparations to help preserve the bodies of their dead. Yet no process or products have been devised to preserve a body in the grave indefinitely.
The Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule prohibits funeral providers from telling consumers that it can be done. For example, funeral providers may not claim that either embalming or a particular type of casket will preserve the body of the deceased for an unlimited time.
In practice since ancient Egypt, embalming is most often done by using chemical substances. We use embalming today for two primary reasons--to allow adequate time between death and burial to observe social customs such as visitations and funeral services, and to prevent the spread of infection. Cosmetic work is often used for aesthetic reasons.
Modern embalming now consists primarily of removing all blood and gases from the body and the insertion of a disinfecting fluid. Small incisions are made in either the carotid or femoral artery and the jugular or femoral vein; the disinfecting fluid is injected through the carotid or femoral artery, and the blood is drained from the jugular or femoral vein.
If an autopsy is being performed, the vital organs are removed and immersed in an embalming fluid, and then replaced in the body, often surrounded by a preservative powder. If an autopsy is not performed, the embalmer aspirates fluids out of the body cavity by making a small incision near the navel and aspirating the bodily fluids. Most bodies in the USA and Canada are embalmed, though it is not required by law in most cases.
The Funeral Rule statement on embalming requires funeral service providers to inform consumers that the law does not require embalming (unless in a specific special case when it does). The language the FTC requires says:
"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 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 direct cremation or immediate burial."
Funeral service providers do not need to include the phrase "except in certain special cases" if the state or local law in the area where they do business doesn't require embalming under any circumstances. However, if funeral service providers want to add information about state law requirements, they may do so after the FTC disclosure. This disclosure should appear in immediate conjunction with the price for embalming.
"In immediate conjunction" means the embalming disclosure must appear directly next to the price for embalming. It should not appear on a separate page or anywhere else on the General Price List (GPL) apart from the embalming price. (See the sample GPL for more details).