Home Funerals Grow As Americans Skip The Mortician For Do-It-Yourself After-Death Care

Each year, 2.5 million Americans die. For the majority, about 70 percent, deaths happen in a hospital, nursing home or long-term care facility. What happens afterwards is nearly always the same, with few exceptions for religious traditions: A doctor or nurse will sign a death certificate and the body will be whisked to the funeral home, where it’s washed, embalmed, dressed, and prepared for a viewing and burial. A family usually sees the dead only a few times: when they die, if there’s an open-casket viewing and in the rare case when a casket is opened during burial.

But a small and growing group of Americans are returning to a more hands-on, no-frills experience of death. In the world of “do it yourself” funerals, freezer packs are used in lieu of embalming, unvarnished wooden boxes replace ornate caskets, viewings are in living rooms and, in some cases, burials happen in backyards.

Nobody keeps track of the number of home funerals and advocacy groups, but home funeral organizations have won battles in recent years in states such as Minnesota and Utah that have attempted to ban the practice. Most states have nearly eliminated any requirements that professionals play a role in funerals. It’s now legal in all but eight states to care for one’s own after death. And the growth of community-based, nonprofit home funeral groups and burial grounds that are friendly to the cause point to an increasing demand.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

4 comments on “Home Funerals Grow As Americans Skip The Mortician For Do-It-Yourself After-Death Care

  1. Br. Michael says:

    That’s the way it used to be.

  2. Cennydd13 says:

    Morticians and cemeteries, yes, but I am a firm believer that the proper place for a Christian’s funeral is his or her parish church. No fancy funeral home services with all of the expense involved, and my wife and I have directed that this will not be the case for us when our time comes.

  3. Utah Benjamin says:

    RE Cennydd13’s comment: Even with the nicest (and most expensive) funeral home in town, I find when I officiate a funeral or memorial service at a funeral home, the environment almost seems…tacky.

  4. Cennydd13 says:

    It’s what I call a business offering quasi-religious trappings to the bereaved for their benefit in a quasi-religious setting.