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Home Funerals

Home Funerals – Overview

A home funeral is a noncommercial, family-centered response to death that involves the family and its social community in the care and preparation of a loved one for burial or cremation and/or in planning and carrying out related rituals or ceremonies and/or in the burial or cremation itself. A home funeral may occur entirely within the family home or not. It is differentiated from the institutional funeral by its emphasis on minimal, noninvasive care and preparation of the body, on its reliance on the family’s own social networks for assistance and support, and on the relative or total absence of commercial funeral providers in its proceedings.

The benefits of a home funeral are environmental, financial, therapeutic, and spiritual. Families who choose to care for their own report a sense of completion, a feeling of having done their best for those they love, and a stronger connection to their friends and family and community. Having something meaningful to do to help others through a crisis or sorrowful time is usually empowering for all involved. A home funeral gives family and friends more time with the departed, which may help in the often difficult, highly intimate grieving process.

Why do families choose home funerals?

Home funerals are a loving way to say goodbye. A home funeral allows more time for closure; family and friends can gather for two or more days to prepare, memorialize, celebrate, grieve, and finally transport the loved one.

Home funerals provide control over decisions. Home funerals are often more personalized than the funeral or memorial service conducted away from home by a funeral director or service provider. Arrangements for keeping the loved one and/or transporting for cremation or burial can be challenging and should be planned ahead of time whenever possible.

Home funerals save money. By circumventing the potentially costly “extras” of funeral home-arranged services, families can save thousands of dollars in what they might feel are unnecessary products and services.

Home funerals can facilitate bonding, as friends and family gather and cooperate in conducting the preparations and the event, supporting one another.

Home funerals reinforce the cycle of life. Surrounding the bereaved in the everyday life of the deceased can help to highlight this person’s true nature, their accomplishments, and their loved ones’ hopes.

Home funerals promote healing and closure. A home funeral provides a comfortable place to discuss life and death, to express grief and loss.

What is a home funeral?

During a home funeral, families take responsibility for:

  • planning and carrying out after-death rituals or ceremonies
  • preparing the deceased for burial or cremation by bathing, dressing and laying out for visitation
  • keeping the deceased cool with noninvasive techniques, such as ice
  • filing the death certificate and obtaining transport and burial permits
  • transporting the deceased to the place of burial or cremation
  • facilitating the final disposition, such as digging the grave in natural burial
  • hiring professionals for specific services

[The above is from, accessed on 9/25/18]


Legal Considerations

Step-by-Step Guide

End of Life Doulas and Home Funeral Guides