Although the common current practice in New Zealand is to routinely embalm (approximately 90% of people are embalmed), the answer is that no, embalming is often not required. Here at State of Grace we try to avoid unnecessary embalming, and offer a choice of either keeping the deceased person in their home using icepacks discreetly tucked around the body, or by keeping the person in our coolroom, for up to a week. We have found that both of these methods have been very successful.
Occasionally we do make the decision, with the family, to embalm. This is often because of any physical challenges with the body such as unpleasant emissions or odours, or because they wish to keep the deceased at home for a long period of time. We discuss the options with each family, and make these decisions together on a case by case basis.