Can You Be Buried Without a Casket?

planning a funeral

If you’ve ever wondered if you could be buried without a casket, the answer is both ‘yes!’ and ‘no!’ Being buried without a casket is called a natural burial. While there are no existing federal regulations on natural burials, you do have to consider state and local regulations, and if the funeral home you’ve selected offers natural burials. 

State & Federal Regulations

As previously mentioned, there are no federal regulations that prevent natural or green burials, but each state has its own rules and legislation regarding burials and the handling of human remains. Each state will dictate how cemeteries and funeral homes may perform natural burials, which may involve a burial vault, a natural casket, and specific embalming rules.

In Michigan, there is a Green Burial Council that ensures natural burials have a minimum environmental impact and are done with respect for the deceased. The mission of this council is to conserve and protect natural resources, protect the health of the public, and preserve natural habitats.

In most states, like Massachusetts and Michigan, a burial vault or a casket is not legally mandatory. The only limitation to a natural burial in most states is having access to:

  • A funeral home that offers natural burials.
  • A service provider that has the appropriate experience.
  • Access to the land or grounds for green burials.

Cemetery Restrictions

There are no set cemetery restrictions—each cemetery will have its own rules and regulations surrounding natural burials. If you desire a natural burial, always check with the funeral home about their burial options. Some questions to ask include:

  1. Is embalming included?
  2. What material is the body enclosed in?
  3. Where is the natural burial plot located?
  4. What are your restrictions?
  5. Can the body be buried on private land?

Do You Need to Be Embalmed?

No. You would be surprised at how many people think the embalming process is a legal requirement, but it is not. Embalming has no natural benefits and only prevents body decomposition for a few weeks. Any natural material buried in an airtight and moisture-tight container in a cool, dark place will decay much slower.

A natural burial will also have its own embalming methods to temporarily slow down the decomposition of human tissue, which may include surrounding the body in ice. Embalming bodies is common only in America and Canada, and it is only required here when the body must be transported across state or provincial borders.

Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons Offers Green Burials

Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons provides custom funeral services, including green burials. We are a family-owned and -operated business with locations in Sterling Heights and Shelby Township, MI. Our family realizes the sacred trust you’ve placed in our hands and is committed to providing the best end-of-life services for you and your family.

Please contact us today to learn more about our green burial services—we offer free consultations 24 hours, seven days a week.

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