Death and end-of-life planning is something that a lot of people choose to avoid thinking about at all costs. For many people, scenes from television shows or movies about death and funerals have influenced what we think about death and end-of-life care. Thanks to our friends in Hollywood, this has led to many misconceptions and funeral myths that people believe to be true.
When a family steps through a funeral home’s doors to arrange a service, they often have questions or assume certain things because of the funeral myths they have been led to believe are true. That’s why we’ve decided to set the record straight by debunking some common funeral myths and letting you know what the truth is.
Here are seven funeral myths you should stop believing.
Cremation Burns the Body to Ashes
A common misconception by many people is that a cremation burns the deceased’s remains, leaving ashes similar to what you would find in a fireplace. The truth is, cremation is the process of reducing a body to bone fragments through the use of heat. The flames from the crematory never actually touch the deceased’s remains. After the body has been reduced, the bone fragments are pulverized down to fine particles similar to sand.
Embalming Is Required by Law
Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not required in the first 24 hours under any circumstances by many states. If there will be a delay between death and final disposition, refrigeration is usually an acceptable alternative.
Embalmed Remains Will Be Preserved Forever
When a body is embalmed, the purpose is to preserve the remains and hold off decomposition for about a week or so. After about a week, the body will begin to decompose, even if it has been embalmed. Temperature and environment are the two biggest determining factors in the rate of decomposition.
Vaults Are Required by Law
Although there are no specific laws requiring a burial vault in any state, many cemeteries have regulations requiring vaults for burials. This is done as a preventative measure to keep graves from collapsing when heavy machinery and foot traffic passes over. In doing so, cemetery maintenance is reduced and safety is increased.
Cremation Is the Only Environmentally Friendly Alternative to a Traditional Burial
If you are interested in environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional burial, there are many options to consider. A “green burial” is a type of service where there is no embalming and the deceased is buried in a biodegradable casket or shroud. Other ways to be environmentally friendly are to forego embalming fluids or using a burial vault.
A Funeral or Cremation Service Is Expensive
When you are making arrangements for a funeral or cremation service, the costs can greatly vary. If you plan a service and select all of the “extras” or an expensive casket, the cost can easily reach $10,000 or more. At the same time, many families have planned simple and affordable services for less than $2,000. When you begin the arrangement process, let the funeral director know what your budget is and they will work with you to arrange a service that meets your needs.
If a Loved One Wants to Be Cremated, You Can’t Have a Service
Just because a loved one has expressed that they want to be cremated, doesn’t mean you can’t plan a service to pay tribute and say goodbye. Many families choose to hold a funeral service before the cremation. Another option is to hold a celebration of life or memorial service after the cremation has occurred. With the latter options, you don’t have to rush to plan a service. It’s quite common for families to hold celebrations of life, weeks or even months after their loved one has passed away.