Upon the passing of a loved one, the urgency to make arrangements can often be overwhelming. The process of preserving a body after death can be extensive and perplexing for those dealing with the emotions of loss. From the decisions for viewings to setting a loved one in their final resting place, there are countless options and decisions to make. Here’s everything you need to know about the processes of embalming and cremation.

What is embalming?

Put simply, embalming is the process of replacing bodily fluids with chemical solutions in order to delay decomposition. This process is done in a facility that works with clean room specialists in order to create a safe, sterile environment. Once this initial step is complete, the body is prepared cosmetically in order to restore a lifelike appearance. The next step includes further preparations such as styling hair, further cosmetics, and clothing the body in the outfit provided by the family.

The process of embalming is typically done for those who choose to have open-casket viewings and funerals. Family and friends are able to say their final goodbyes to the recently departed, and seeing them at peace. Embalming is also used in instances where a body will be transported for burial in order to slow the process of decomposition.

What is cremation?

A more affordable post-mortem option than the traditional funeral is cremation. Professionals such as those at Legacy Cremation Services, will place remains in a specific container in order to be incinerated in a cremation chamber. Chambers reach anywhere from 1400 to 1800 degrees, which allows for any organic matter to be removed by process of evaporation and heat.

From start to finish, the cremation process takes nearly 3 hours. Once it’s complete, a variety of chemical compounds will remain, such as ashes and mineral fragments. These compounds are referred to as cremains and are given to the next of kin to be placed in an urn or special container. It has become an increasingly popular choice due to its lower costs as well as flexibility for services and transportation.

Post-embalming or cremation

Historically, those who choose embalming will hold a viewing and a funeral service. These last moments with the departed are held at funeral homes or religious buildings, with some simply done at cemeteries before final burial. Family and friends are able to attend the event, express their condolences, share memories, and say their final goodbyes to the deceased.

Similarly, those who choose cremation will host memorial services either shortly after the passing or in the near future. Given the flexibility of this route, extended time between time of death and services offers more scheduling room for those who need to travel distances to attend. Other options post-cremation are biodegradable cremains to be planted in a designated spot, the scattering of ashes at sea, or specialized jewelry and urns for display. When it comes to environmental options, it’s best to refer to EPA guidelines in order to ensure they are carried through and done within the law.

Which service is best?

Ultimately, the decision to go with a traditional burial versus cremation is a matter of preference. While cremation is more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective, many still take the route of a traditional casket funeral. Several families have chosen to go with both of these options in order to have an open-casket viewing before the remains are cremated for their final resting place. Many who feel the imminence or possibility of their time of passing will include this decision in their final wishes left behind to next of kin.

When it comes to making this emotionally-difficult decision, every case will be unique. There is no right or wrong or better or worse when it comes to saying a final goodbye to a loved one. So long as they are commemorated in such a way that their loved ones feel closure, either embalming or cremation is a quality option for the recently departed.