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Home funerals: Tending to their own

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Uploaded on Oct 29, 2008

HER LAUGH AND HER PASSION FOR LEARNINGTHESE ARE JUST A FEW THINGS LEE PETERSON LOVED ABOUT HIS WIFE, LYN.

SOT LEE PETERSON, WIDOWER: She just, ya know, was one of those people that didnt know a stranger.

BUT LYN WAS NO STRANGER TO SUFFERING. SHE BATTLED WITH ENDOMETRIAL CANCER FOR NEARLY EIGHT YEARS.

HER STRUGGLE ENDED IN THIS ROOM AT THE COUPLES FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA HOME.

THREE DAYS LATER, LYNS BODY WAS STILL HERERESTING AS PART OF THE HOME FUNERAL PETERSON HELD FOR HER.

LEE PETERSON SOT: I was able to have time with the body, really, just kind of just having it sink in, it was really somewhat comforting when it was just me and Lyns body.

PETERSON IS ONE OF A SMALL GROUP OF AMERICANS TAKING AFTER-DEATH CARE OUT OF FUNERAL HOMES AND INTO THEIR OWN HOMES.

INSTEAD OF ENLISTING THE ASSISTANCE OF A FUNERAL DIRECTOR, HE CARED FOR HIS DEPARTED WIFE WITH THE HELP OF FRIENDS AND FAMILY, WASHING AND DRESSING HER BODY AND HOLDING A SMALL SERVICE FOR HERALL INSIDE THE HOME.

HE SAYS ITS ALL ABOUT HAVING A CHOICE.

LEE PETERSON SOT: This isnt necessarily the way I did it would be the way other people would want to do it. But I think its more of a reassurance of ya know were all gonna go through this and I think its an honoring of that process, of that phase of life.

IN 45 STATES ITS LEGAL TO HONOR THAT PROCESS AT HOMEAND IN THE OTHER FIVE STATESCONNECTICUT, LOUISIANA, INDIANA, NEBRASKA AND NEW YORK

SOT ELIZABETH KNOX, FOUNDER, CROSSINGS: its still possible, just with the support of a compassionate, understanding funeral director.

BETH KNOX IS THE FOUNDER OF A MARYLAND-BASED EDUCATIONAL NON-PROFIT CALLED CROSSINGS: CARING FOR OUR OWN AT DEATH.

SHE STARTED THE ORGANIZATION MORE THAN TEN YEARS AGO AFTER SHE PROVIDED A HOME FUNERAL TO HER SEVEN-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, ALISON, WHO DIED IN A CAR ACCIDENT.

SINCE THEN, SHES HELPED HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE, INCLUDING LEE PETERSON, PROVIDE AFTER-DEATH CARE TO THEIR LOVED ONES.

BETH KNOX SOT: Because weve handed it over to a profession and to strangers, were no longer involved.

MELISSE HINKLE, REPORTER STAND UP: WE CALLED 25 FUNERAL HOMES IN THE WASHINGTON, D.C. METROPOLITAN AREA. REACTION FROM MORTICIANS WAS MIXED. SOME SAY THEYVE NEVER HEARD OF HOME FUNERALS, OTHERS SAY THEYD SUPPORT A FAMILY WHO WANTED ONE. A FEW ARE AGAINST THE PRACTICE.

SOT RONALD TAYLOR II, FUNERAL DIRECTOR: Im more opposed to it because theres a lot that can go wrong.

RONALD TAYLOR IS A FUNERAL DIRECTOR HERE AT HIS FAMILYS FUNERAL HOME IN WASHINGTON, D.C. HE SAYS HIS EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND MAKES HIM UNIQUELY QUALIFIED TO CARE FOR THE DEAD THE WAY A FAMILY MEMBER CANT.

SOT RONALD TAYLOR II: They teach us all about how we should take care of the bodies - how a body should be taken care of.

BETH KNOX SOT: The true funeral director who is serving a family will be the one who says to the family and by the way, you can also do this yourself and you dont have to hire me.

KEEPING FUNERAL CARE IN THE HOME CAN ALSO KEEP COSTS DOWN. THE PRICE OF AN AVERAGE FUNERAL IS ABOUT $6,500 ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL FUNERAL DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION. A HOME FUNERAL IS A FRACTION OF THAT PRICE.

BETH KNOX SOT: Its basically a few hundred dollars versus a few thousand dollars.

HOME FUNERAL ADVOCATES ATTRIBUTE THE MOVEMENTS GROWTH TO BABY BOOMERS LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES TO CONVENTIONAL FUNERALS.

LEE PETERSON FEELS HIS WIFES FUNERAL RESURRECTED A SENSE OF TOGETHERNESS IN HIS COMMUNITY.

LEE PETERSON SOT: You just dont see that in a neighborhood enough, like we would have seen it ya know decades ago. And I think people really miss that.

FOR UPI.COM, IM MELISSE HINKLE.

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