When a loved one passes away, there is a lot for the family to decide. You'll need to figure out what kind of funeral you want, which tangible reminders you want to keep, and where to locate the deceased person's final resting place. One of the biggest decisions is whether you'd like to bury or cremate your loved one, especially since this affects the amount of time the body can be kept at a funeral home.

If you've chosen a burial, you'll need to hold the funeral within a few weeks, since this is the maximum amount of time a body can be stored. But if your family member is cremated, you can extend the timeline if necessary. Today, we will have a closer look at how long you can expect the body to remain at the home and what other services you could benefit from.

How Long Can a Body Be Kept at a Funeral Home? 

After your loved one passes away, you can safely keep their body at your home for several days, as long as the conditions in the room are cool. If you're not sure about health and safety regulations, you could ask your funeral director about strategies to preserve the body. A few days after the death, the deceased person will need to be transported to a mortuary, where they can be kept in refrigerated conditions for around 4-6 weeks.

Of course, you and your family can visit them there. Depending on the timing of the funeral, we might recommend embalming your family member. The process involves introducing a chemical to the body so that it can remain stable for longer. Although embalming is a suitable option for open-coffin funerals, it is considered invasive, so we will always check with family members before proceeding.

Your Travel Arrangements

Although we generally recommend that you bury the deceased person around one to two weeks after their death, the timing of the funeral depends on many factors. If the funeral is especially involved and requires a lot of preparation, you might need to delay it further. Similarly, many people have relatives who live in a different state or country. To make sure they can attend the service, you might need to give them some time to prepare suitable travel arrangements.

Your Religion 

Here at Sunset Hills, we welcome people from all walks of life, which includes those with various religious backgrounds. While Christian people can be buried several weeks after the death occurred, this isn't the case for some other religions. For instance, in Islam and Judaism, the body should be laid to rest as quickly as possible. We are happy to accommodate these requirements and help you prepare a service that suits your religious needs.


Anyone hoping to say goodbye in a traditional way should choose burial over cremation. This is especially true for people who are following religious requirements or those who would like to have an open-casket funeral. In some cases, a burial can seem more respectful towards the deceased person, and it allows the family members to see them and say a proper goodbye.

What's more, once your loved one is laid to rest, you will have a beautiful gravesite to visit for many years to come. In fact, you can even choose to purchase a family plot, so you and other family members can be buried together. When properly stored and cooled, a body can be kept for up to six weeks at the funeral home, so you'll have plenty of flexibility when planning your memorial service.


Cremation has become an increasingly popular option for people around the country. In fact, more bodies are now cremated than buried. Many families choose to go this way because there is almost no limit to what you can do with the ashes of your loved one. Instead of simply burying them, you could scatter them in the deceased's favorite location, keep them close by, or create memorial jewelry out of them.

Additionally, cremation is around 50% less expensive than burial, so there is more money left over for other parts of the service. Many people are also concerned about the environmental effects of burial. Since we are struggling with overpopulation, cremation can help reduce the amount of land we use. If you choose this option, the mortuary can hold your loved one's remains for slightly longer, since there is no risk of the ashes deteriorating.

How to Organize a Funeral 

Now you understand how long your mortuary might be able to keep the body or ashes of your deceased family member, you might wonder what other services are offered. After the death of a loved one, there is a lot to think about and organize, so it's often best to speak to an experienced professional. Your funeral specialists can help you follow the deceased person's wishes, personalize the service, and make your memories permanent.

Look for Instructions by the Deceased

The first thing you should do is look for instructions by your deceased loved one. Often, people have an idea about how they would like their funeral to go, and they might have strong opinions about issues such as burial versus cremation. In fact, around 35% of Americans have either talked to their families about how they would like their memorial service to go or drawn up written plans.

Once you've held the service and buried your loved one, you could speak to your funeral professional about your own situation. Planning and paying for your memorial service can simplify matters for your loved ones and help them through the grieving process. At Sunset Hills, we are happy to help you make tough decisions and create a service that honors your life.

Speak to Professionals about Your Options

Whether you have any instructions by the deceased person or not, working with a funeral expert is almost always the best way to create a memorable service. The professional can explain your options to you and help you make a decision about which one is most suitable. They will take into account your loved one's character and preferences, so you can create a day everyone will remember.

What's more, they can help you access options for permanently honoring life and show you possibilities for final resting places. After the funeral, you'll want a place where you can go to connect with your deceased family member and remember the time you spent with them. Your funeral home can help you create and maintain this space for years to come.

Design a Personalized Experience  

Every person is an individual, and the memorial service should reflect this. While most people opted for a very traditional burial with an open casket and a religious ceremony in the past, you have many more options nowadays. Depending on your family member's personality, you could choose to uphold centuries-old traditions or break away from them and create something unique that reflects their character.

For instance, some of the families we work with ask their guests to wear light and bright colors during the service. That way, it becomes more of a celebration of life than a funeral. Similarly, some people request a theme for their memorial service, and others would like it to be held out in the open or at a very specific location. Your funeral professional will help you consider all options and decide what is most appropriate.

Think About How to Honor Life 

A good memorial service is extremely important, and it can help friends and family members overcome the shock and trauma of death. But once it's over, most families would like something tangible to remember their loved one by. For this reason, you should consider various permanent options that could help keep the memories alive.

The funeral invitation can be the first item to keep and treasure, especially if it is well written and includes some photographs or anecdotes. Additionally, you could create a book or tribute video of the most important memories, which can be shared with everyone at the funeral. Many people also opt for a website, where those who knew the deceased can share stories, videos, and photos.

If your loved one died unexpectedly, you might not know how mortuary services work or how you can organize a funeral that honors your family member. Fortunately, your local funeral home offers all the services you might need, and you can count on the experts to help you create memories that will last a lifetime. They can not only help you plan the process, but they will also take care of the remains until the funeral takes place.

Families who opted for a burial can expect the body to remain at a mortuary for around 4-6 weeks at the most, but those who have chosen cremation can benefit from more flexibility. No matter what path you're thinking of taking, you shouldn't delay speaking to your local funeral service providers. Call us now at Sunset Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary to find out how we can help you with those challenging end-of-life decisions.