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What You Need to Know About Autopsies

If death is not sudden, it may seem like an autopsy is entirely unnecessary. After all, this is something that is require by law in cases where the death is suspect or there are questions that remain unanswered. While this is usually the case, autopsies are not limited to legal proceedings and may be desirable for a grieving family for various reasons; in the end, an autopsy is a final means of getting the complete truth about the deceased—what was the cause of death? Were the health care services being provided effective? Is there any reason to fear a genetic condition? All valid questions and all highly meaningful to the family and friends of someone who has passed. Here is what you need to know about autopsies.

1. They Can Be Requested by Next-of-Kin

It is not only law officials who may ask for an autopsy to be conducted. If you or another family member are the next-of-kin to the deceased you are entirely within your rights to request the procedure. A consent form is typically required to finalize the autopsy.

2. Funeral Arrangements Need Not Be Postponed

Here at Phaneuf, much like most other funeral homes, autopsies need not delay the process of a funeral. We work closely with GSPA staff to complete all arrangements and make sure that you or your family need not worry about timing. In fact, it is important to note that autopsies can be performed even if the body has been embalmed—in many cases, embalming actually helps by preserving tissue for the most accurate autopsy results. However, if there is need for toxicology to be conducted, there may be some interference from embalming fluids.

3. Religious Authorities May Need to Be Consulted

Because this is a deeply personal matter, we cannot advise if an autopsy will be in opposition to any religious tenets or beliefs. If this is something that is concerning, it is highly recommended that you reach out to a local religious authority or advisor to discuss your options. This is also a matter that should be discussed with the entire family of the deceased to avoid any misunderstandings or difficulties.

4. Autopsies Tell a Story

You may not have had the opportunity to speak to your loved one before their death, you may not have been able to be their voice in life—an autopsy may be your way of getting this chance. In some cases, autopsies can provide detailed information on the state and progression of a person’s health, it can also alleviate or bring to light concerns about the success or failure of medical treatments; in some cases, autopsies can alert family members to genetic disorders and in such a way save future lives.

Whether you want to know more about your loved one or have lingering questions that need to be answered, consider whether conducting an autopsy may help resolve your worries.

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