Do They Bend or Break Your Legs To Put You in a Casket?


Fortunately, funerals and death aren’t something the average person has to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, that often means that people have all kinds of questions about the funeral process, and many times, they’re too embarrassed or afraid to ask them. Some of the most common of these involve how the embalmer treats the deceased body when moved to the casket.

Embalmers do not break the legs or any other body part to put deceased individuals into their caskets. However, the embalmer will massage and bend the limbs to give the deceased body a more natural look, which is especially important for open-casket funerals.

The remainder of this article will look at how the embalming and burial processes happen and other ways to lay your loved one to rest. Specifically, it will discuss embalming and casket placement and burial and cremation procedures. 

Preparation of the Deceased

Before a body can be buried or cremated, the embalmer must prepare it for the service. 

Embalming and Aesthetics

An embalmer is a licensed professional that works with deceased bodies to prepare them for burial or cremation. They inject the body with chemicals such as formaldehyde to prevent it from decaying, which is essential when the next-of-kin waits on a funeral or cremation date.

The embalmer injects the body with embalming chemicals as a first step.

He then massages, washes, and bends the limbs of the body. He does this to relieve rigor mortis, distribute the embalming chemicals, and give the body a more natural look in preparation for burial. 

The embalmer may perform two types of procedures: internal and external embalming, which temporarily prevents the decay of the internal cavities and the external surface of the body (for example, the skin). 

When this process is complete, the embalmer will then work to apply aesthetics to the deceased body, such as hair, make up and nail care. The goal is to have the individual looking as similar as possible to their living self.

Casket Placement

The deceased’s body is placed very carefully into a casket before the funeral and burial services. Sometimes, staff members work together to lift the body and put it appropriately in the casket. At other times, funeral homes use a machine for this. 

Once the body is in the casket, the embalmer will position its head, arms, and legs to give the body a peaceful look. Embalmers use blocks to elevate the head and knees. Caskets can be half or full couch, meaning the casket’s lid can open in either one or two pieces. 

Oftentimes, half-couch caskets are the most common for a few reasons: the more embalming that needs to be done, the more expensive the ceremony is, and a full-couch viewing requires much more attention to detail.

Embalmers are expected to treat the deceased body with care and dignity, as highlighted in many funeral homes and embalmer codes of conduct. This explains the gentle and safe transfer and positioning of deceased bodies in burial caskets; it also provides reassurance about the care of your loved one’s body before and during the ceremony.

Funeral flowers on a casket, funeral service

Cremation Process

Cremation involves many of the same procedures as burial does, insofar as the deceased body can be embalmed and placed into a casket for the process. 

You may wonder what the main difference between burial and cremation procedures is.

Cremation processes do not involve embalming or aesthetics (unless asked for by next-of-kin). The deceased is still washed, dressed, and laid to rest in a combustible casket. The body is cremated in a heat chamber, leaving only bone fragments, which are then ground into ashes and placed in an urn. 

The last step to a cremation service is returning the ashes to the next-of-kin. Should no one pick up the ashes, the funeral home can dispose of them once notice is given. 

However, assuming the ashes are collected after the cremation is complete, one can keep them in their home, scatter them meaningfully, or even bury the urn, similar to a casket burial.

Organ Donation

Whether a body is buried or cremated, the individual may have chosen to have their organs donated after they die. This is a life-saving possibility for those suffering from organ failure, and the procedure does not impact any funeral ceremony services, regardless of what they are. This United States-based organization has more information on how to become an organ donor and what eligibility requirements are. 

Laying Your Loved One To Rest

Embalming and aesthetics are typically only completed for burial services. Still, whether one is being cremated or buried, the funeral home cares for the deceased body until whichever service is complete. From then on, the next-of-kin is responsible for the grave site or urn of the deceased. 

During a funeral service, the funeral home staff carefully lower the casket into a grave and refill the hole with dirt. Gravesites usually have a headstone to mark the location of the individual. Over a substantial number of years, the body decomposes and leaves only a skeleton behind.

As mentioned above, the entire experience can be overwhelming and perhaps even a little intimidating; feelings of grief and sorrow can make preparing for the funeral somewhat disorienting. Having the support of family and friends can help provide comfort during the process. 

For those that require an in-depth look at what to expect before, during, and after a funeral, 4funeral.com has many tips to help you get through the mourning experience as smoothly and compassionately as possible. Additionally, the site can direct you to funeral etiquette, other FAQs and casket and headstone services.

In Conclusion

An embalmer doesn’t break the legs of a deceased body to fit into a casket. However, he will bend and massage the limbs during the preparation for a funeral. All funeral home employees have moral and ethical obligations to treat the deceased body with as much care, respect, and kindness as possible. 
So, if you have a loved one about to undergo the funeral process, you can rest assured that they will be treated with the utmost care and kindness. Anything less isn’t just unethical; it’s also illegal.

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Alex Noel

Hi there! I'm Alex Noel and live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I started this website to share my experience. My goal is to provide Americans a more fulfilling goodbye.

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