When it comes to funeral planning, the modern consumer has more options than ever before. From cremation and green burial to traditional interment, there is a ceremony for every type of person—and every budget.
Those hoping to reduce funeral costs even more—and to put the focus back on family—have one more option: the home funeral. Once the only way to say goodbye to those we love, a home funeral is exactly what the name suggests. Instead of having a memorial service at a funeral home and burying the deceased in a cemetery, the entire process takes place at home.
The Home Funeral Phenomenon
Home funerals might seem a little strange to those who shudder at the thought of having a loved one laying upstairs in bed as the funeral plans are made, but this was once the way of almost all funeral traditions. Although certainly not the first to adopt it, Victorians popularized the concept of the vigil, or the watching of the body in the days leading up to burial. Because there were no formal funeral homes or refrigeration methods, the bodies were laid out in the parlor for this to take place. They were then transported to a church or family cemetery, where burial could range anywhere from simple to ornate.
These days, there are countless safety and sanitation laws in place that prevent us from keeping the deceased body of a loved one where it can pose a health hazard. However, that doesn’t mean home burial isn’t an option—it just means you have to know the laws in your state and county. Some areas allow you to bury a body on your own land, provided it is a safe distance from water sources and your neighbors, and that you have a secured permit. And you may even be able to bury the deceased without a third-party funeral home participating, assuming you have all the paperwork in place and you live in a state where this is an option.
Why Home Burial?
Home burial has a number of advantages for those hoping to step away from traditional funeral plans. These include:
- Greener, more eco-friendly burial options
- Lower funeral costs
- A more personalized burial experience
- Private, family vigils
Despite these benefits, a home funeral isn’t the ideal process for everyone. Because it is still rare for individual families to take the burden of burial entirely on their own shoulders, many organizations aren’t sure how the process works. Body transport and preparation might require moving across some red tape, and obstructions in the form of permits and laws can add a strain to the process.
If this is something you’re interested in, contact your city officials and funeral homes before death occurs. Due to so many of the restrictions and regulations, home burial can typically only occur if advance arrangements have been made.