While a motivated family can independently acquire the legal knowledge and practical skills to arrange a home funeral, the process is eased considerably when a group assists. There are two kinds of Community Care Groups who come to help during a home funeral.
The first may be a group that you or your family are a part of, in preparation for supporting each other through a home funeral. The group might be a faith-based community group, a secular group of close friends, neighbors, LGBTQ or a hospice support group. Or, families can come together to learn and help each other with their funerals.
The other type of Community Care Group is made up of people who work together to provide information, training and assistance to people who want to learn about home funerals. They are called by the client and come to assist.
Ask an Expert
Q: How would I find or start a Community Care Group in my community?
A: You can check our directory on NHFA to see if a group exists around you. Check with local churches in your area. Or, start your own! (See Undertaken with Love, below)
Q: Do you have training for a Community Care Group?
A: Undertaken With Love was created to help families and community care groups learn ways to continue caring for their loved ones all the way to the cemetery or crematory. This manual will teach you how to research state laws and identify your legal rights and responsibilities; how to handle, bathe and transport the body; and how to create and sustain an effective community care group. Buy on Amazon today for $12.95
Q: How can I help bring more awareness of home funerals into my community?
A: Even though the word is spreading, home funeral information can still feel like a pioneering effort. But you are not alone! We’ve gathered lots of ways for you to help reach out and spread the word – check it out.
The Rise of Back-to-the-Basics Funerals Progressive funeral director Amy Cunningham shows why Baby Boomers Are Drawn to Green and Eco-Friendly Funerals. By Susan Chumsky, The New York Times 3-12-14
The Greenest Things to Do With Your Body After You Die Every year cemeteries across the U.S. bury over 100,000 tons of steel and 1,500,000 tons of concrete from coffins and re-enforced vaults. Green burials are all about reconnecting death and nature, reducing exorbitant costs, and sparking an environmental paradigm shift. By Amelia Martyn-Hemphill, The The Atlantic 12-13-13
What’s a Death Midwife? Inside the Alternative Death Care Movement For the majority of human history, families handled arrangements for the deceased, from the time immediately after death, to burial or cremation. Until the advent of modern hospitals and health care at the turn of the last century, it was the norm for the old and sick to die at home surrounded by loved ones. By Jennifer Luxton, yes! Magazine 9-3-15
Natural Burial: Bringing Death Back Down to Earth The Good Earth seeks to bring families into closer engagement with both the dead and the natural cycle of life. The idea of green burial—that is, the vaultless burial of an unembalmed body, wrapped in nothing but a shroud or laid into a biodegradable container—is hardly new, of course. By Mark Harris, The Progressive 8-3-16
Undertaken With Love: A home funeral guide for Congregations and Communities by Holly Stevens and Donna Belk. Practical home funeral and body care guidebook that helps spiritual and helping communities form Community Care Groups for the purpose of caring for their own members at death.
Planning Guide and Workbook for Home Funeral Families by Lee Webster and Donna Belk. This home funeral-specific, all-in-one planning guide and workbook ensures that your family will have all the information needed to follow through with your final wishes for a home funeral or vigil. Task lists give everyone something to do and direction on how to do it. Leave a meaningful legacy of trust by writing it all down – and then have the conversation with friends and loved ones.
A Christian Ending: A handbook for burial in the ancient Christian tradition by J. Mark and Elizabeth J. Barna. Detailed practical how-to guide for a home or community funeral from start to finish, with specific reference to Orthodox Christianity.
Building Bridges Along the Death Care Continuum: Advocating for home funerals to hospices, hospitals, and care facilities by Lee Webster, Lucy Basler, and Su Jin Kim. This blueprint for change in your local agencies and institutions is based on expanded research we’ve added to our materials on hospice advocacy. It includes an in-service presentation developed for you to take to hospitals to help educate personnel, plus handouts/flyers to send or leave with professionals.
Grandma Lucille’s Movie An Asian American woman describes the home funeral for her mother. “Death be something not to be feared. It’s a lovely way for Mama to be, to have fun and gaity as well as the somber, serious part. A beautiful piece of love.” 10-29-11 (3 min.)
Introduction to Home Funerals A short introduction to Home Funerals and how families have a choice in how they care for their loved ones after death. 6-13-07 (4 min.)
Death DIY Nancy Ward and Holly Pruett are ‘Death Midwives’ in Portland, Oregon that help families reclaim a healthy relationship with dying. They provide education and services that can circumvent the death industry status quo, and help families make informed and purposeful choices. 2o14 (4 min.)
Gabriel’s Home Funeral Gabriel Gelbart and his husband, Mitch Metzer were in the process of creating a hospice in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles, when Gabe died suddenly at 52. Sacred Crossing Guides and over 200 people from the community came together to honor Gabe with a home vigil and funeral on his beloved Anam Cara land. 2014. (5 min.)
Listen | In this compelling interview, Lee Webster, NHFA President, shares how NHFA supports families with Dr. Karen Wyatt, End of Life University. 9-3-15 (1 hour)
Listen | Members of the Minnesota Threshold Network have been educating and advocating for Home Funerals for over seven years. They discussed how to bring a strong community of home funeral support into your own community. They talked about how they started, how they keep it going, and lessons learned. Facilitated by Anne Murphy, NHFA board member. 11-8-15 (1 hour)
Listen | Talking about death isn’t easy, but mortician Caitlin Doughty is trying to reform how we think about the deaths of loved ones — and prepare for our own. My philosophy is honesty,” Doughty tells NPR’s Terry Gross. “I think that we’ve been so hidden from death in this culture for such a long time that it’s very refreshing and liberating to talk about death in an open, honest manner.” 10-8-14 (30 min.)
Listen | Over the last century death has been outsourced to mortuary professionals. Now multinational chains are buying up mom-and-pop operations, offering package deals on funerals. However, the corporatization of death is being challenged: home funeral guides are returning care of the dead to families by helping us face death and aiding families in arranging intimate home funerals. 5-7-14 (1 hour)
Listen | Lee Webster, President of the National Home Funeral Alliance, answer every question that comes to mind about the practice of home funerals. It is new but it is not. There is a growing movement of people wanting to take it back. 7-22-15 (45 min.)
Your Regional Network
Take a look at our Regional Network groups, and find folks near to your location who can help to support you.
Take a look at these other organizations
Funeral Consumers Alliance protecting a consumer’s right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral
Funeral Ethics Organization promoting ethical dealings in all death-related transactions, and general consumer information
Green Burial Council encouraging environmentally sustainable deathcare and the use of burial as a new means of protecting natural areas