Besides being a less expensive option, handling a loved one's funeral at home can be an intimate, therapeutic way to say good-bye. Here are the basics.
Step 1: Decide if it's right for you Decide if a home funeral is for you. Consider whether you want to be so closely involved with preparing the funeral of a loved one. Then, gauge whether you have the support of friends and family; a home funeral is a group effort.
Step 2: Research laws before the death Know the laws. Most states require a death certificate, a permit to transport the body, and that the body be buried, cremated, or donated to science. Contact local authorities to learn about the laws in your area.
Tip Enlist a death midwife to coach you through the process of a home funeral.
Step 3: Make arrangements Arrange for the casket and final resting place of the deceased. Order a casket, or build it by hand. Contact a cemetery about a burial plot or cremation services. Then, arrange for transport.
Tip If you want to bury your loved one on family property, check with local authorities to see if it's legal.
Step 4: Wash and dress the body Have between two and six people wash and dress the body within a few hours of death, before rigor mortis sets in. Close the eyes and lay an eye pillow on them for a few hours to keep the eyelids shut. If the mouth drops open, wrap a cotton bandana under the chin and tie it at the top of the head.
Step 5: Keep the body cool Keep the body cool with pieces of a 20- to 30-pound block of dry ice placed in bags under the torso. Replace the dry ice as needed. The body can be kept at home for two to three days at a temperature of 60 to 75 degrees with little or no decomposition.
Step 6: Organize a wake Organize a viewing, wake, or funeral at the home according to the family's wishes. Have a religious figure, friend, or family member officiate the ceremony.
Tip Personalize the ceremony by setting up pictures and other mementos that will celebrate the life of the departed.
Step 7: Transport the body Transfer the body along with any personal items to the casket, and transport the body to the burial site.
Step 8: Bury the body Bury the deceased or inter the ashes after cremation. Now you can come to terms with a loved one's death, knowing they were taken to their final resting place by those they loved.
Did You Know? The average mortuary funeral service costs $6,000, while a home funeral costs between $1,000 and $2,000.