Embalming is the process of sanitizing and chemically treating the body of the deceased. This process reduces the presence and growth of microorganisms, retards the decomposition of the body, and restores an acceptable physical appearance.
Embalming is usually not required in cases of immediate burial or immediate cremation, and for some religious groups who bury within 24 hours of death. Most funeral homes require embalming if there is to be a public viewing, if the body is to be kept for more than 24 hours, or if the body is to be transported across state lines.
Embalming is the first step in preparation of the body for viewing. Preparation also includes shaving, hair dressing, cosmetizing, clothing, and casketing prior to viewing and services.
Any concerns you may have about the need for embalming can be discussed with your funeral director.