Home Funeral FAQ
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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 vigil?
A vigil or ‘wake’ is a period of time, usually 1 -3 days, when the body is laying in honor while family and friends visit to pay their respects and say goodbye. The funeral service most often takes place in the home on the 3rd day of the vigil before the body is taken to the crematory or cemetery.
Many religions 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, lovingly caring for a body and holding it in a sacred space allows family and friends time to accept the loss, say goodbye and begin to face their own lives with a deepened sense of gratitude and peace.
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 do not seek to conduct the after-death care themselves. Home funeral guides believe that after-death care is most meaningful when carried out by family and friends of the deceased. Home funeral guides, therefore, seek to minimize the involvement of anyone other than family and friends in after-death care. They are GUIDES and not directors. The emphasis is on encouraging and educating on minimal, non-invasive, and environmentally-friendly care of the body.
Fees levied in exchange for the education and empowerment of families or for ministerial services are in keeping with the fair business practice of fair compensation for services rendered.
What are the benefits of a home funeral?
During 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.
The cost of a home funeral is considerably less than traditional funeral homes. When hiring a Home Funeral Guide you pay consultation fees for education and guidance and save the cost of refrigeration, embalming, mortician fees and parlor and chapel rentals.
Can I take the body home from a hospital?
Yes. 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 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.
Which states restrict a family’s right to care for 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
What is a death midwife?
A death midwife is one who assists an individual and their family through the transition of death, just as a birth midwife assists the baby and the mother through the transition of birth. A Sacred Crossings death midwife incorporates the roles of: spiritual counsellor, death doula, home funeral guide, funeral planner and celebrant.
Our definition is as follows:
“A Death Midwife shepherds individuals toward a conscious dying experience; guides loved ones in after-death care of the body and empowers families to create personal and deeply meaningful funerals at home.”
How is the body preserved?
The body is carefully washed, dressed (or shrouded) and preserved with dry ice to prevent 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.
What are the steps of a home funeral?
- A home funeral guide conducts in-home consultation to asses a family’s needs and help them make preparations
- Upon notification of death the Home Funeral Guide arrives at the home – usually within 3 hours
- The Home Funeral Guide educates and supports the family with bathing and dressing the body
- The body is laid ‘in honor’ in the home 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
For a complete list of services, please see ‘home funerals’ .
Do I need to hire a funeral director?
You do not have 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. A Sacred Crossing Guide can support you through the entire process. Please call: 310-968-2763
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.
When should I call Sacred Crossings?
Although we can assist a family at any time, 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.
Do you provide cremation and burial services?
Yes. Sacred Crossings is a licensed funeral home. We now assist individuals and their families through the end-of-this-life experience. Services include: death midwifery home visits pre-death; 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 310-968-2763 for details and pricing. Our website is coming soon.
What is the cost of a home funeral?
Do you provide Pet Funeral services?
Sacred Crossings offers Pet Crossing Guide services to assist you during each stage of the journey.
Support includes: pet hospice counseling; veterinary referrals; euthanasia support; preparing the body for a vigil; the funeral or memorial service and burial or cremation.