Expiration Date

Due to popular demand…hahaha….I will attempt to make another posting here.  Sorry I do not post more frequently, but thank you for reading and for your interest.

I was surprised to “meet” a man who had been dead for several months and was still resting on a gurney in the prep room at the funeral home.  He was wearing a nice suit, tie, and polished shoes.  He had been embalmed, but was not looking so good.  I asked a co-worker…what is the deal with that guy?  They told me something had occurred with the family and their finances which had kept them from being able to proceed with the funeral arrangements, and until the paperwork could be resolved he was to remain in the prep room until further notice.  Now I am not sure if I was being told the truth, but I do remeber him being in his little corner of the room for quite some time.  So maybe there was some truth the story.  Who knows?  Which begs the question: is there a legal time limit or “expiration” date on the deceased? Are funeral homes required to dispose of remains after a certain amount of time? I am not sure what the answer to this question is, perhpas some of our more experienced funeral directors and technicians who frequent this blog can answer this question.

I am surprised at how few “rules” there are to the deceased in terms of the family’s involvement and ability to make choices about the arrangements and details of their loved one who has passed away.  There is no law that says you cannot view the body at any time you are ready.  There is no law that says that funerals, viewings, and burials have to be done the way funeral homes say.  There really are no rules as to how funerals must be conducted.  You just have to find a funeral home that is able to accommodate your requests.  Funeral homes will give you some guidelines to follow, and in most cases this is extremely helpful to the grieving.  Sometimes funeral directors will make it seem that it is “law” that the funeral go exactly the way they tell you it must.  This is just not true.  So don’t be afraid to ask your funeral director to accommodate you and your family’s wishes. It really should be their obligation to accommodate your wishes.

~ by thatoneguy on September 9, 2010.

4 Responses to “Expiration Date”

  1. Hi,

    I´ve just discovered your funeral stories and have read through some of them and they are really interesting for me. I am an English teacher in a vocational school with trainees who want to become funeral directors and I was wondering if I can use some of your stories for my lessons?

  2. Contrary to what you state in this article, there are laws that govern how funeral arrangements are to be conducted. For example, in Virginia, in order for a person to be publically viewed, it must be embalmed. Each state has its own laws, rules, and regulations that govern the business of death.

  3. can someone advise me how I can go about using a few words from the blog ‘ I am surprised at how few “rules” there are to the deceased in terms of the family’s involvement and ability to make choices’ I would like to quote a few words in my autobiography. Thanks. Lou Geraets

  4. I’m sorry but I absolutely have to set the record straight. There are *tons* of laws regarding bodies, funerals, viewings, dispositions, etc. the main one is The Funeral Rule regulated by the FTC. There are federal laws, state laws, and even county laws that can differ greatly and MUST be followed.

    Embalming is not a requirement by the Funeral Rule but is highly recommended not because it costs more, but because embalming disinfects the body as well as preserves. Dead bodies are Petri dishes of bacteria, pathogens, viruses, and even communicable diseases. Law mandated? No. Highly, highly recommended? Yes.

    I understand this is a personal blog but as a mortuary student in 2016, I landed on this page looking for an inside and candid look into the industry. It’s hard enough to get individuals to understand the limitations of the funeral industry without mixing in inaccurate and uninformed opinions of previous funeral industry workers.

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