No fridge?

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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 rate at 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.

Last Updated ( Monday, 03 October 2011 22:19 )  
Comments (6)
1 Wednesday, 07 September 2011 16:06
Janet Brunsvold, RN owner Caskets And More A Discount Store
I had a customer who bought a casket and a monument from me. They asked about vaults. I asked which cemetery. I called and that cemetery did not require any vaults. The consumer did now want one either. The FH told her I was wrong and they sold her a costly vault. I double checked again with the cemetery. " NO VAULTS " I told the consumer she should get her money back on the vault. Billings, MT
2 Thursday, 08 September 2011 10:40
Shirley
Are we to all assume that people do not have minds of their own? Especially when a family is going through a loss, do you really think they are going to be bullied into doing something to their loved ones remains that they do not want? Alot of families still want to view their loved one and have friends and family alike say goodbye. Seriously, sites like this should be governed just like funeral homes and cemeteries.
3 Thursday, 08 September 2011 11:09
Josh Slocum, exec. director FCA
Goodness, Shirley, it's remarkable that you find it surprising that families could be "bullied" into paying for services they don't want or need at a funeral home. It's quite common, which is the reason why the Federal Trade Commission has specific rules compelling funeral homes to offer families free choice. Of course some families want a viewing. But what does that have to do with a case where the family doesn't want a viewing, doesn't want embalming, but is forced to pay for it because there's no refrigeration? You're not saying you think that's a good thing, are you Shirley?
4 Thursday, 15 September 2011 13:31
Hank
I do not believe the news story for a minute. Let me bring a decaying human body into your home or office and lets see how long everyone living/working in that building can take it. I seriously doubt the body was smelling, or was in the condition, the brothers claim.

It's also unreasonable to think a refrigeration unit alone would have prevented this. The lady was dead for 3-days, but it does not describe the condition of the body prior to arriving at the funeral home. Was it an unattended death where the body may have laid unnoticed for several hours/days? Was the deceased on any medication that could have sped up decomposition? There are a lot of variables that dictate how long a body will "last" before decomposition become noticeable to the naked eye. Weight, fat content, air temperature, humidity, diet, medications, if the body died upright/sitting or laying down, etc...... Even with refrigeration it is not guaranteed that this lady would have been satisfactory for viewing.

If the body was going to be cremated with no embalming, but the family still wanted the opportunity for viewing, they should have made it to the funeral home much sooner than what they did.

Should a funeral home have a refrigeration unit on site? I say NO. It may not be a bad thing to have, but I do not see why a funeral home should be required to have on-site refrigeration. Funeral homes are not a morgue. Hospitals have refrigeration and as long as a funeral home can have access to that refrigeration for a reasonable amount of time I see no foul.
5 Thursday, 15 September 2011 23:07
Josh Slocum, Executive Director

Should a funeral home have a refrigeration unit on site? I say NO. It may not be a bad thing to have, but I do not see why a funeral home should be required to have on-site refrigeration. Funeral homes are not a morgue. Hospitals have refrigeration and as long as a funeral home can have access to that refrigeration for a reasonable amount of time I see no foul.



Do you think funeral homes should be required to have embalming rooms? Not all hospitals have sufficient refrigeration. Nursing homes don't have it at all. Combine this with the fact that some states require embalming or refrigeration with 48 hours, and you have a situation where the consumer is forced to consent to and pay for embalming if the disposition can't be done in that time frame. As a funeral director, I know that you know this, so why didn't you acknowledge it? Embalming should always be a choice, never the forced or default option. This is so uncontroversial it's hard to fathom how anyone could see it otherwise. Funeral homes without refrigerators have no business being in the business of dealing with dead bodies.

6 Sunday, 18 August 2013 20:25
patrick huey
Refrigeration units are not cheap and lots of smaller, independantly owned firms just cannot afford it.

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