The Case for Home Funerals
Caring for our loved ones between the time of death and burial or cremation is an ancient tradition that can be traced to earliest civilizations. During the past 100 years however, this once family-directed tradition has been gradually taken over by professional funeral directors.
Having lost the comforting rituals surrounding the death of a loved-one, we are now often left feeling helpless, overwhelmed and powerless to resist the often restrictive protocols of the funeral home.
Many religious texts cite the importance of the three days following death. This is a period of time where the soul / spirit /consciousness of the individual is getting accustomed to being without the physical form.
Family members often experience the presence of a loved one close by during the days immediately following transition and sensitives often ‘see’ the luminous body hovering close to the physical body.
Whatever one’s personal beliefs, caring for a loved-one’s body after death at home for a period of one to three days allows friends and family the time, space and privacy to process feelings, honor religious customs, be supported by the community, and begin the healing process.
For more information on home funerals, please read our Frequently Asked Questions below.
The Sacred Crossings Funeral Home offers home funeral services to those in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.
Home Funeral Frequently Asked Questions
The Sacred Crossings Funeral Home guides and supports families to reclaim the lost art and healing ritual of a Home Funeral.
What is a home funeral?
A home funeral is a family or community-centered response to death and after-death care. Most state laws support the right of the family to care for their own departed. Depending on the specifics of each state’s law, families and communities may play a key role in:
- Preparing the body for burial or cremation (Bathing, dressing, anointing)
- Planning and carrying out after-death rituals or ceremonies such as laying out the deceased for visitation and holding a funeral service in the home
- Filing of death-related paperwork such as the death certificate and disposition permit.
- Transporting the deceased to the place of burial or cremation
- Facilitating the final disposition such as digging the grave in natural burial
For more information on the home funeral movement, please visit: www.homefuneralalliance.org
What is a home funeral guide?
Home funeral guides are advocates for family-centered and family-led funerals. They impart the knowledge that families may need in order to be able to exercise the innate right of caring for their own dead.
Home funeral guides believe that after-death care is most meaningful when carried out by family and friends of the deceased. They are guides and not directors. The emphasis is on encouraging and educating on minimal, non-invasive, and environmentally-friendly care of the body.
Can I take the body home from the hospital?
In almost all 50 states, families have the legal right to care for loved ones after death, this right includes taking the body home from the hospital, nursing facility or coroner providing you have the necessary permits in your possession. It is advisable let the facility know of your plans and make arrangements for transport of the body ahead of time.
When a loved one dies in a hospital, nursing home or is taken to the coroner, our funeral home, Sacred Crossings will dispatch a driver to transport the body from the location to the home. A Sacred Crossing Guide will then support the family through the home funeral process.
What states restrict a family’s right to take care of their own dead?
Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey and New York have various restrictions concerning a family’s right to after-death care, home funerals and burials.
For more information on legal rights for your state, please visit the Funeral Consumers Alliance at: www.funerals.org
How is the body preserved?
After the body is carefully washed, dressed (or shrouded), it is preserved with dry-ice to delay decomposition.
Caring for an in-tact body naturally, at home, using gentle, non-invasive techniques, poses far less potential hazards than one that is compromised and chemically treated at a funeral home.
Is a home funeral suitable for children?
Yes. Children are naturally curious about death and look toward adults for guidance in how to embrace this natural event into their lives. Having the body prepared by caring relatives in the natural setting of home is comforting for children and helps them to accept and integrate what has happened. They see that death is not frightening or macabre as often depicted by the media, but is simple, natural and often quite beautiful.
Decorating the cremation box can be profoundly therapeutic for children, providing them a creative outlet for feelings and words that may otherwise go unexpressed.
Do you provide burial and cremation services?
Yes. Sacred Crossings is a licensed funeral home. Our services include: home funerals, farewell rituals, direct cremation, witness cremation, green burial, full-body sea burial, and celebrant services for funerals and memorials. support and guidance for a 1 to 3-day vigil and funeral at home; cremation and burial services; bereavement support services.
We strongly support green and conscientious alternatives to traditional disposition. Green burials and Sea burials are two of our most popular services.
Please call 800-805-5561 for details and pricing or go to our website sacredcrossingsfuneralhome.com.
For questions and home funeral support, the Death Midwife, Rev. Olivia Bareham, can speak with you by appointment. Please visit the Death Midwife page for booking.
What is a vigil?
What are the benefits of a home funeral?
- The family remains in charge from the moment of death until burial or cremation.
- A family can take as much time as they need to personally care for their loved one according to religious or cultural beliefs and traditions and the body can be viewed without being embalmed.
- A home funeral fosters the spirit of community as friends and neighbors gather to support the family in their home.
- Family and friends have more time with the body helping them accept and integrate the death and promoting the healing process.
- Children’s fears are allayed when witnessing the rites and rituals of caring for the dead at home by family members and they are able to more easily integrate death into the cycle of life.
Do I need to hire a funeral director?
In almost all states you have the legal right to act as the funeral director on behalf of your loved one which includes the responsibility of completing and filing the necessary paperwork.
What are the steps of a home funeral?
- Your home funeral guide will educate and support you and your family through the bathing and dressing ritual.
- The body is laid in honor on a bed or table.
- The body is preserved with dry-ice during the 1 to 3-day vigil.
- The cremation casket or pine box is delivered to the home and decorated by friends and family.
- The family completes all necessary paperwork needed for the disposition and death certificate
- The funeral service is held in the home or taken to a church. chapel or other venue depending on the family’s wishes.
- The body is transported to the cemetery or crematory for final disposition
When should I call Sacred Crossings?
For those in the Los Angeles area, we can assist a family at any time however, it is advisable to make an appointment for a home consultation a few weeks or months before death is expected. A Home Funeral Guide will come to your home to discuss your wishes, answer all questions and help you make the necessary preparations for creating a personal, deeply meaningful funeral for your loved one.
For those outside Los Angeles, please make an appointment with Olivia, the Death Midwife, who can answer all of your questions on our page The Death Midwife.
What is the cost of a home funeral?
Costs vary depending on services required, the length of your vigil and the area in which you reside. Expect between $500 and $4000 depending on your needs.
Do you provide Pet Funeral services?
Sacred Crossings offers Pet Crossing Guide services to assist you during each stage of the journey. We have in-person guides in Los Angeles and phone and/or video-conferencing support worldwide.
Support includes: pet hospice counseling; veterinary referrals; euthanasia support; preparing the body for a vigil; the funeral or memorial service and burial or cremation.
Please call 800-805-5561.
For questions and consultations about home funeral needs, you may book an appointment with Olivia, the Death Midwife.
“The simplicity and beauty of bathing and dressing her body, which would be routine if done by the hands of strangers, became a ritual of deepest love for me. A deeply spiritual and emotionally joyous experience… thank you Sacred Crossings!”
– Larry Vigus
The Advance Death Care Directive
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