More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What you might not know about embalming

Let’s talk for a minute about treatments available for the remains of a body. Some people believe that embalming or cremation is necessary or required by law, but neither is true. Embalming is done to preserve the body and make it cosmetically presentable for an open-casket viewing. If a body is being shipped via common carrier, it must be embalmed or placed into an acceptable container. Only a few states require embalming, and if cremation is chosen, embalming is not necessary. 

Embalming and mummification, (wrapping the washed corpse with cloth after application of oils and spices), began in Egypt and was the custom for religious and sanitation purposes. Egyptians believed that a soul could return to its body after a "circle of necessity" as long as the body remained in tact. The circle of necessity was a 3,000 year journey of the soul, after which it could re-inhabit the body and arise to live with the gods. Prior to the discovery of embalming, the Egyptians buried their dead in the Nile River. Ethiopians, Babylonians, Persians, Syrians, and Aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands practiced mummification of their dead. Early Jewish and Islamic customs did not allow embalming or cremation because they saw it as mutilation or desecration of the body. Muslim practices today are similar to mummification, except the body is laid to rest in the ground without a coffin, generally with the deceased’s head facing towards Mecca. There is no evidence that Early Christians practiced embalming. Embalming was used in the Dark Ages in Europe when great advances were being made in medicine and bodies were needed for scientific study and dissection purposes.

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