During the Civil War, embalming came into use to delay decomposition of bodies traveling a great distance as they were returned to families for burial. Today, embalming is not necessary for funerals or memorial services held shortly after a loved one passes away. Many Americans opt for embalming the body for cosmetic reasons, enabling the deceased to be better preserved during the funeral process.
A family has the choice whether or not to have their loved one's body embalmed. As of August 2010, Minnesotans now have a more natural alternative in caring for a deceased's body for public viewing within private property, such as a home, church or funeral parlor. The new law permits dry ice to be used in preserving a deceased loved one's body for public viewing.
Due to this change, families may hold a public visitation on private property without embalming for up to four days following a death. Prior to the bill being passed, minor children were not allowed in the presence of an unembalmed body - with the passing of the Minnesota state law, minors are granted permission to attend an unembalmed body's public visitation.
Because this legislation just recently passed, home funerals in Minnesota are just now becoming recognized as a viable and more personal option. Websites such as the Minnesota Threshold Network (http://mnthresholdnetwork.wordpress.com) and the National Home Funeral Alliance (http://homefuneralalliance.org) are constantly updating information to assist individuals and families seeking more detailed information.