Home Funerals and Green Burials

| January 30, 2013

Home Funerals and Green Burials

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was no such thing as a funeral home or an undertaker who was (generally very highly) paid to come and remove the body of a deceased loved one soon after they passed away and prepare it for interment, entombment or cremation.

For thousands of years, and in many places around the world still today, the body of a departed person would remain where they died, which was usually in the home, for some time after their passing.

As a result, for a few days after the death, friends, relatives and loved ones would have a chance to spend some time in the presence of the deceased. This would give them the opportunity to hold vigil, to share and support one another in their grieving process, to pay their last respects, to celebrate the life of the person who had passed, to pray, meditate or keen, to perhaps conduct some sort of ceremony or ritual, and to say their final goodbyes in peace, with sanctity, dignity and privacy.

There is such a tremendous taboo surrounding death and dying in our culture these days. Because of this the majority of us would never even consider the possibility that there’s another way to deal with the death of a loved one besides having their body removed promptly after their demise to a funeral home, only to be handled and prepared by strangers, albeit professional ones.

However there is a small, grass roots resurgence occurring in our culture today, which is a return to a more traditional approach of dealing with our deceased family and friends.

Having what’s called a home funeral or memorial is a time honored way of experiencing the death process, and for many who are open to this seemingly unconventional approach, it is a much more personal, loving, peaceful, and even economical alternative to the mainstream path chosen by most.

In many areas it’s completely legal to transfer a body to one’s home, or to keep it there for a time if the death has occurred at home. And the use of things like dry ice, herbs and essential oils can help to preserve a body long enough for it to be kept in the home, so as to give surviving family and friends time to say goodby on their own terms. Many people who experience this way of dealing with the death of a loved one report that they are able to find a level of peace and closure around the passing of the deceased that is not possible through the more conventional practices that normally surround death.

Tying in with this is another non-conventional approach, which is called a ‘green’ or ‘natural’ burial. This is a practice which eschews embalming with toxic chemicals or burial in expensive sealed caskets or concrete vaults. Its focus instead is on a burial that’s designed to allow the body to readily decompose beneath the surface of the earth so that it may break down and be subsumed and reabsorbed naturally into the soil, providing nourishment for new life – just as all that has died on this planet is ultimately meant to.

If any of this sounds like something about which you’d like to learn more, I’ve compiled a list of online resources below where you can explore and gather more information.

While not for everyone, my sense is that these options of home funerals and green burials will surely appeal to some who are open to the kind of seemingly innovative ideas that are really just ancient and very traditional practices that have been lost in antiquity as we find ourselves here today in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our modern, ‘civilized’ world.

Home Funeral Directory

A Sacred Moment

A Family Undertaking – Film

A Movement to Bring Grief Back Home

Green Burial Council

Green Burials

How to Green Your Funeral

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Category: Compassion, Dying With Dignity | Death, Earth, Elements, Emotional Expression, Empathy, Soil-Food-Web

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