Contrary to what some individuals may believe, embalming is not an archaic or gruesome procedure. It is a very respectful and minimally invasive surgical process that is now far superior to the methods that have been performed for centuries by many cultures throughout the world.

Honoring and Remembering a Loved One

Many families that decide to commemorate their loved one’s life, sharing their fondest memories and allowing others to share memories as well, will choose to have a visitation with their loved one’s body present. A visitation allows family and friends to reflect on how the loved one affected their life and encourages the sharing of stories. Viewing a loved one’s body during this time may evoke strong emotions. Saying goodbye and expressing those emotions in a comfortable setting surrounded by others who share feelings of sadness is part of a healthy grieving process.

Is embalming required by law?

Generally, embalming is not required by law. However, the State New Hampshire requires that a body be embalmed if there will be a public viewing of your loved one after 48 hours has elapsed since death. Some funeral homes and cemeteries may also have an embalming requirement for certain types of arrangements, such as when temporary entombment occurs during the Winter months when the cemeteries are closed. You always have the option to select alternative arrangements that do not require embalming.

Why choose Embalming?

When performed with care, embalming can soften the appearance of someone who has died by slowing the unpleasant changes a body goes through after death occurs.

By definition, embalming is “the process of chemically treating the deceased human body to reduce the presence and growth of microorganisms, delay organic decomposition and restore an acceptable physical appearance.” A loved one’s physical appearance is an important part of what makes a viewing/visitation a meaningful experience for all who attend.

Your loved one’s body is the most important symbol present during a viewing/visitation. The process of embalming – and sometimes further efforts through reconstruction – promotes a more natural look and a healing final impression of your loved one

What if my loved one experienced extreme trauma?

It is often assumed that extreme trauma precludes the viewing of the deceased. Depending on the circumstances, reconstruction and/or restorative procedures may be necessary in order to achieve a more natural and acceptable appearance suitable for viewing. After a careful evaluation of the human remains by a licensed embalmer, both the funeral director and embalmer can help determine the best course of action to restore the deceased’s physical appearance.

Viewings, Visitations and Funerals

Honoring and remembering a loved one’s life is an important part of the healing journey. Regardless of what a family decides for a loved one’s final resting place, a meaningful event to say goodbye can be beneficial, whether it is in a private setting or with extended family and friends. The opportunity to spend final time with a loved one will help those who are grieving acknowledge the reality of the death and receive caring support from others. Our funeral home is committed to helping families plan a fitting tribute honoring a loved one’s life.

What are some circumstances in which embalming is optional?

  • Cremation with no viewing
  • Private family viewing
  • Immediate burial with no viewing
  • Identification of human remains
  • Religious beliefs that prohibit embalming

What happens if a body is not embalmed?

If a body is not embalmed or kept in a climate-controlled environment, the process of decomposition begins. Decomposition is most evident through odor, physical changes to the body and/or discoloration.

How long does an embalmed body last?

Even though the embalming process delays decomposition, it does not stop this natural process. Other determining factors such as environmental conditions and the manner in which someone died can directly affect the condition of the human remains.

Formaldehyde Free Embalming

Formaldehyde Free Embalming is a modern, nontoxic, nonhazardous, safe and effective alternative to traditional formaldehyde embalming and is becoming much more common as funeral homes like ours are being more responsible towards our environment.

A Formaldehyde free approach can often result in similar cosmetic and restorative results, excellent temporary sanitation and acceptable temporary preservation, much like the traditional approach, however it is not always advisable depending on the circumstances in which someone has died, or if an autopsy or organ donation has taken place.

Who makes the decision as to whether a person is embalmed?

The person who holds the right of disposition under New Hampshire RSA 290 is the person who authorizes embalming. Typically, if embalming has not been authorized by the decedent in a preneed contract or other directions that are binding under state law, the survivor who holds the right to arrange the funeral under state law will decide whether the remains are to be embalmed. Please visit our Legal Issues section for more information.

Cournoyer Funeral Home & Cremation Center
Phone: (603) 532-6484 | Fax: (603) 532-5725
PO Box 486 | 33 River Street, Jaffrey, NH  03452

Funeral Home Office Hours

Our personnel and facilities are immediately available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
However, our office is only staffed during the following times or by special appointment.

Monday – Friday 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM     |     Saturday, Sunday & Holidays Closed

Please contact us with any questions, comments, or inquiries, and we will reply as soon as possible.

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