Home Funerals

Home births, home schooling, home hospice care, now there is growing interest in home funerals. Of course this is not a new idea. In the past, people cared for the dead in their own homes. With the move from rural to urban settings the country undertaker/coffin maker evolved into the modern mortician. With industrialization people looked to the professional specialist in many areas of life, from physicians attending mothers in childbirth in the hospital to funeral directors attending the dead in the funeral parlor. There is now a trend for families to become involved in the funeral process.

Quite simply, a home funeral is one that is held in a private home. Family and friends bathe, dress, and drape the body. For a home funeral vigil, rather than embalming, dry ice can be used to allow the body to lie at home for several days.  An informal gathering or service in the home or a more formal funeral service in a church can conclude a home funeral vigil, followed by cremation or burial.

The advocates of home funerals find several advantages to caring for the dead at home. It places the family in charge of the funeral at a time when they would otherwise feel powerless. It allows time for family and friends to say goodbye. It is comforting for the family to know their loved one’s body is being cared for lovingly, and not in the hands of strangers. It promotes the beginning of closure and the healing process. It gives families the freedom to create their own rituals. It involves the deceased’s family and friends in the many tasks at hand. Most people are grateful for the opportunity to show their love by helping. Many families say this experience leaves indelible connections between generations.  The cost savings can be substantial.

Since most of us have not had the experience of planning or participating in a home funeral, knowing how to proceed may be daunting.  You may need a funeral director or an attorney to help you with filing the death notice and other papers. Just as there are midwives who assist with home births, in many areas there are Guides who can assist with planning, preparation of the body, home vigils, transportation, and other aspects of the home funeral.  There is a nationwide directory of Home Funeral Guides at http://homefuneraldirectory.com/ . At this time, there is only one listed for Ohio – Pickaway Home Funeral Services in Circleville. This is a growing movement and it is likely that there will be more in the future as the movement for home funerals is growing.

Further Information:
Slocum, Joshua, and Lisa Carlson, Final Rights, available at http://www.funerals.org/.
http://homefuneral.info/  and http://www.crossings.net/.

“Passing Through Our Hands” is a home funeral training video which walks people through the process of caring for a loved one after death. It is available for $15 from http://passingthroughourhands.com/

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