How long does embalming preserve a body?
I am frequently asked, “How long does embalming preserve a body?” The answer is actually quite simple… it depends!
The preservation goal of modern embalming is to preserve the body adequately for funeral rituals. Embalming is not intended to preserve a body for indefinite periods of time.
There are many factors that determine the effectiveness of embalming. Perhaps the most important is the condition of the body prior to embalming. Disease, body mass and body composition, medical therapies and medications, manners of death, environmental influences, and timing of death can all potentially affect the effectiveness of embalming. Even though there are chemicals specific for certain situations, the embalmer is always relying upon a good circulatory system to distribute the preservation solution.
In my years as a funeral director, I have had only one opportunity to witness the condition of an embalmed body after being buried for two years. The body was in excellent condition and would have been presentable for a public viewing.
So, to answer the question, “How long does embalming preserve the body?”… it depends!