What is a Home Funeral?
The term “home funeral” is a bit of a misnomer because they can take place relatively anywhere such as in a church, a nursing home, out in nature or even at a receptive funeral home. The main difference with a home funeral is that the after-death body care is performed by loved ones, the service is designed and directed by loved ones–in a location of their choosing–and it can last from hours to days depending on the state they’re in. This practice is not unheard of, especially since many cultures do this today and in the United States, this was our common practice up until the Civil War. That’s why some people use the term “natural funeral” to describe home funerals. They are closely alligned with the family and community values that our society was originally based on. Back when end-of-life care and after-death care were considered sacred, deeply personal duties that weren’t to be given away to strangers.
Are Home Funerals Legal?
After-death care is regulated differently in each state. To find out what your state’s regulations are, click here. For example, in New York State, a funeral director must be hired to file the death certificate; receive the body from a hospital, institution or other place; personally supervise the funeral services; and personally supervise the internment or cremation. No matter where you live, it is legal in every state to bring or keep a loved one home for a ceremony of the family’s design and choosing.
Why have a Home Funeral?
Home funerals allow families to have closure and time with their loved one, personalized rituals can be performed, family members from out of town have ample time for travel, and they are usually less costly compared to a traditional ceremony.
What is a Home Funeral Guide?
A Home Funeral Guide, also known as a Death Midwife, empowers families to take care of their deceased loved ones at home. They are there to assist you as educators and consultants. In New York State, they cannot make funeral arrangements or perform hands-on after-death care and cannot charge for those services, however, they can volunteer those services. They can charge for consultation, education and for providing supplies.
Home Funeral 101**
Price: $0 to $100
Additions: $180 for the home funeral kit
This package is focused on preparing for a funeral at home. Home funerals can be an extremely healing and beautiful experience. It’s an opportunity for loved ones to gather together and say their goodbyes in a comfortable, intimate space and not have to worry about severe time constraints or their budget. However, the idea of a home funeral can be daunting so I can help walk you through it. This can be done virtually or in-person.
- 1 scheduled (1 hour) visit which will walk you through the process of hosting a home funeral including body care tips and ceremonial ideas.
- Post-passage visit to process the experience with loved ones
- I also make home funeral kits that you can buy which will ensure that you have everything you need on-hand. This bundle can be paired with the kit or just purely be a consultation only.
Guide to home funerals by state
Here is a quick guide to the legal requirements of having a home funeral in your state. This is your first resource in figuring out what you can and cannot do for a home funeral. Here is another great resource on the topic: State Requirements – NATIONAL HOME FUNERAL ALLIANCE
General Price Lists Demystified
Is the General Price List from your local funeral home too complicated to undersand? Well, not anymore. This resource can help you. Here is a similar article on the topic: Understanding a Funeral Home’s Price List – Funeral Consumers Alliance (funerals.org)
National Home Funeral Alliance
Here is the best resource for caring for the dead at home and community death care. The site walks you through your rights, how to cool a body, how to bathe and dress a body, health & safety concerns, etc…
Redesigning the End
Are you looking for more indepth knowledge of green burial, home funerals, estate planning and after-death care? Redesigning the End has online courses that you can take and many are free or low-cost.
New Hampshire Funeral Resources & Education
This site is not just for people living in New Hampshire. This is a great resource for everyone who is looking for information on end-of-life care, green burials, home funerals, paying for a funeral…you name it.
Body Care Demonstration Videos
There is a wealth of demonstration videos out there to help you feel confident in washing and preparing a body for a home funeral. Here are more related videos: (6) Home Funeral Body Care Basics – YouTube
Funeral Consumers Alliance
This is your go-to resource for everything having to do with your funeral and burial rights as a consumer. Visiting this site is a necessity when trying to organize and protect yourself during the funeral planning process. Your local FCA (which you can find through this site) will have an online list of funeral prices in your area so you know what to expect.
How to Pay for a Funeral
Are you not sure where you are going to get the money to have a funeral? Here is a well explained resource on all the ways you can find funds to help you when you can’t afford a funeral. Here are two other helpful resources on the topic: Funeral Payment Options — Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Finger Lakes (fingerlakesfunerals.org) and 2018-05-24-how-to-pay.pdf (squarespace.com)
Price Surveys for the Finger Lakes
Here is the most up-to-date funeral price survey for the Finger Lakes region of NY. If you live outside of this area, look on the main Funeral Consumers Alliance website for your local chapter.