State Representative Mark Tysdel
Death is a sad reality for all of us, and funeral ceremonies, including burial or cremation, are important for the memory and honor of those we lose. Whenever death comes, we all want our loved ones to be honored with decency and dignity after their death.
Funeral homes in Michigan provide important services after a person’s death. They professionally and sympathetically comfort grieving family members and friends. They help coordinate a memorial service in honor and memory of a lost loved one.
They also help to process the human body for burial or cremation. It is this part of the job that requires the most technical training, and careful procedures are needed to ensure proper respect for the deceased.
Last fall, I joined State MP Kevin Hertel, a colleague from the Democratic Party of St. Clair Shores, to introduce bipartisan legislation to give extra peace of mind that the body of a loved one is cared for with the utmost respect. Our plan requires that funeral homes in Michigan within 24 hours of receiving the body of the deceased either embalm or place the body in a refrigerator with a temperature of at least 40 degrees. Crematoria will also be required to store the body in the refrigerator if not cremated within 24 hours of arrival.
In general, our plan requires that funeral homes and crematoria maintain a refrigeration unit in a room with sufficient space to accommodate any bodies arriving at the site. To ensure that the changes do not overwhelm local businesses, funeral homes without a refrigeration unit would also be able to contract with a refrigeration facility within 25 miles.
Cold temperatures of refrigeration equipment delay decomposition, helping to preserve bodies before they can be put to rest or cremated. Of course, embalming is a popular method of preservation, but the refrigerator can perform this role for those who choose cremation or simply refuse embalming. The refrigerator can also serve as a preservative if the funeral home is unable to embalm all the bodies it receives promptly. This scenario occurred in communities that experienced rapid tragic jumps in deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
No one wants to think that the remains of a close relative or dear friend can break down in a room for days or weeks pending burial or cremation. Preservation in the refrigerator preserves the dignity of our loved ones who have died, while protecting the health of the population, helping to prevent the spread of pathogens and bacteria in the environment of the dead body.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan residents believe a refrigerator is already required at funeral homes. After all, many funeral homes voluntarily follow the practice of refrigeration equipment in which the deceased are, and most hospitals use refrigerators for deceased patients. And our bipartisan proposal repeats the demands of many other states. If our plan goes into law, Michigan will join more than half the country with cooling requirements for human bodies if they are not embalmed within 48 hours, including neighboring Ohio. This bipartisan plan will provide more clarity for hard-working funeral home directors as to what is expected of them when they take care of bodies.
Our state owes those who have passed away, and those who mourn the loss, to pass these smart, bipartisan bills to preserve human dignity even after death.
State attorney Mark Tysdel, R-Rochester Hills, represents the 45th county house, which includes the cities of Rochester and Rochester Hills and part of Auckland.