Name: Coleen G.
I am not a teacher, but in my search for an answer I was
lead to this web site. We recently had a death in our family and the
question came up about body decomposition. I would like to know what
really happens and hope you can help us. What exactly does happen to the
human body after it has been buried. Eg. how exactly does it decompose
and how long does it take to decompose, does embalming delay the
procedure, does the type of dirt or casket it is buried in affect the
rate of decomposition, etc.
I have been told that maggots eat the flesh
away, is this true? I thought the body eventually went to dust, is this
true? I would appreciate some answers and any web sites is possible,
I am so sorry for your loss. Yes, embalming does delay the decomposition
process. Some parts decompose more quickly, the eyes, etc. Also remember
that the coffin is sealed, and most of the time the coffin is put into a
cement vault. When the person is buried, however, they are not sterile, even
though embalmed and the bacteria and fungi will eventually multiply and start
the decay process. I do not know for sure, but I am sure the soil type is a
factor as is the soil temperature. When the Bible says, dust to dust, I
believe they are really referring to soil. When we buried our dead in the
ground, I am sure they decayed much more quickly. I hope this answers your
I am sorry to hear of your recent loss.
I don't have a web site or a date for the info., but I
recall seeing one of the investigational shows like
20/20 which looked into supposed fraud by funeral
homes in encouraging costly caskets to grief-stricken
customers. The only information I recall (this show
was prior to 1997) was information we used in making a
selection for my grandmother's funeral. In this case
they mentioned that a wooden casket allowed for
natural dry decomposition of the body and that the
extra expense incurred in the purchase of seal tite
metal caskets did not really provide any special value
over the cheaper wooden variety. naturally some woods
might be more expensive than some cheaper metals.
You might be able to search on-line on the topic which
might on the surface seem gory, but eventually one is
faced with a substantial financial dilemma so it may
be worthwhile investigating this.
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Update: June 2012