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Handbook for Mortals : Questions About Funerals

How long can one wait before burial or cremation?

In some traditions, burial should be very prompt, within one day. In others, a few days is allowed for family and friends to gather. In modern America, refrigeration (and embalming, when it is chosen) help to make it reasonable to wait for a few days. In some traditions, a prolonged time of praying with the body present is considered optimal, but these practices may cause some friction with public authorities. The usual funeral and burial occurs well within a week. However, an increasingly common practice is to proceed with burial or cremation within a few days and hold a more thoughtfully planned memorial a few weeks or months later.

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