Can a person be buried in a shroud?

If a person were so inclined could he be buried in either the USA or UK in a shroud (basically a sheet if memory serves). what about embalming is it possible to be buried like the next day (or same day) without being embalmed?

In the US, there are some pretty strict laws about what a person can or cannot be buried in, but my impression is that those limitations vary state-by-state. I know of one family in my parent’s church that wanted to have the ashes of a loved one spread on the grave plot they had purchased rather than bury them, but was told they couldn’t because the remains HAD to be in a container.

I don’t know if a shroud would be considered a container. But I have no doubt that with the amount of money they charge for caskets/urns, someone is or has lobbied to make a law that says it isn’t.

As far as embalming and quick burial go, I believe that you can opt to have that not done, as it is a mitzvah in judaism to not embalm the dead and to bury them as quickly as possible (one or two days tops, unless something prevents it).

Only if that person is dead.

Seriously, my guess is yes. Every few years ago someone published a magazine article or book about the difference between what funeral homes suggest and what is legally required. Check the laws in your area.

I would say you can be buried in whatever you wish. Why would the state care? As long as the laws about preparing the body were followed.

It’s popular in Turin.

Just a point of info.

In my locality, a Muslim group has been working to get permission to add a Muslim section to a local cemetary. No embalming, just a shroud. After a bunch of petty (and probably anti-Islamic) squabbling, they were allowed to bury in part of the cemetary, based on ground water considerations. (Fairly inane.)

So, in at least one US county, the local elected clowns believe they can legislate where such burials can occur.

(I assume that if they blocked all such requests, there would have been a judicial appeal that would have overruled them completely.)

Jews are supposed to be buried in only a shroud–no casket. I don’t know if it actually happens here. I have to assume it must.


That may have been just cemetary regulations, not necessarily a law. Read up on what your state laws actually permit, and don’t take a funeral home or cemetary’s word for it. Jessica Mitford in * The American Way Of Death * claims that some funeral homes outright lie to families about what is required in order to sell them expensive services. She suggests when told that you can or cannot do something that you ask the funeral home or cemetary to put it in writing that it is a state law that you must do such-and-such. If they refuse, you know they’re not being entirely honest.

Find out how indigents in your state are buried. That will give you an idea of what the minimum state requirements are.

Mitford says they’ve tried, but haven’t really had all that much success. In reality, it doesn’t matter, because an unscrupulous funeral director can find it easy to push a grieving family into higher-expense funerals by using subtle, manipulative “tricks,” or by implying that something is required by law when it is not. For example, they may claim that embalming is required for health code reasons. Mitford claims that not one state (at the time she wrote) requires embalming of the dead.

Of course, most funeral directors are honest. It’s that nasty few who color the perception of the death-care industry in the public mind.

When I went to the funeral home after my father died last year, there were signs saying that embalming was encouraged, but not required by law.

The funeral directors handed out lots of sheets of disclaimers and disclosures.

Why not? My dad was buried in his pajamas.

In some cultures, you don’t get “buried” in a shroud. You don’t get buried at all, but are laid on a ledge or “sacred” rock. The shroud is used to cover you and possibly keep in some of the smell of your rotting corpse, at least until the buzzards and other animals get to your body and start munching away at you. Sounds sick, but think how much more you’re survivors will get by avoiding burial costs. Not only that, but they can use your skull for soccer practice next season. :smiley:

The statutes of California, the most populous state, require emblaming only in this instance:

Common carriers meaning airplanes, trains, buses, etc., selling passenger and/or cargo space to multiple customers.

This article specifically mentions the use of shrouds in the UK, I was (pleasantly) surprised at the lack of specific laws allowing or prohibiting certain types of burial.

BBC News "It’s Your Funeral