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Final Rights

Reclaiming the American Way of Death

No fridge?

Posted By on August 12, 2011

8/12/11—Believe it or not a huge number of funeral homes lack the most obvious basic equipment: a refrigerated body storage unit. Why? Historically funeral homes successfully pushed nearly every family into consenting to embalming, the industry’s preferred and profitable form of preservation. But that just won’t fly any more. The cremation is about 38 percent nationally (up to 70 percent in some states), consumers are more aware that they’re almost never legally required to have embalming, and several religious traditions frown on embalming. Add to that the fact that many states require up to 48 hours to pass before a cremation can take place and having a refrigerator is a no-brainer.

Or not. Two men claim a funeral home kept their dead sister for three days without embalming or refrigeration, resulting in a grotesque appearance. The funeral director disputes that. But whatever the truth behind this story from the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, it’s baffling why any funeral home would risk such a situation. Why in the world would a funeral home not have a refrigerator? Three-body “portable” units can be had for less than $5,000. If the funeral home doesn’t have room, well, it’s time to do a little remodeling.


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