Home Funeral Information

What is a home funeral?

Home funerals occur when a loved one is cared for at home after death, giving family time to gather and participate in:

  • planning and carrying out after-death rituals or ceremonies
  • preparing the body for burial or cremation by bathing, dressing and laying out for visitation
  • keeping the body cool with noninvasive techniques, such as ice
  • filing the death certificate and obtaining transport and burial permits
  • transporting the deceased to the place of burial or cremation
  • facilitating the final disposition, such as digging the grave in natural burial
  • hiring professionals for specific services

Four people shrouding the bodyAre home funerals safe and legal?

Yes, home funerals are legal. In every state and province it is legal for families to bring or keep their loved one home until time of disposition. In nine states, a funeral director may need to be involved in some capacity, but this does not necessarily hinder the ability to have a home funeral. Read more here to learn the details about the legality of home funerals. Read more …

Yes, home funerals are safe. Under normal circumstances, dead bodies are safe and offer no reasonable danger to the public health. Learn more about the safety of handling the deceased here. Read more …

Sometimes hospitals and care facilities don’t know the law and don’t want to release the body to the family. Find out what you can do – and get the help you need – when your families’ rights to a home funeral are challenged. Read more…

Six people lowering the shrouded body into a grave with ropesReviving a family tradition

Until the 19th century, funerals were family, church, and community affairs. The family washed and laid out the body, dressed or draped it, and ordered the coffin from the local carpenter or made it themselves. It was the family who carried the coffin from home to the graveyard, often digging the grave as well. Despite the rise in professional death care, it is and has always been legal in every state and province for families to care for loved ones at home from death until final disposition.

Family places the lid on coffinThe value of home funerals

Home funerals invite family, friends, and community into an authentic and healing after-death care experience in a safe and familiar place, with care performed by loving hands. Families choosing home funerals express gratitude for the intimacy, connection, and sense of purpose that results from this organic and timeless practice.

Shroud burial, photo courtesy of Ellen Mcdonald, Austin, TxResources

The following pages on our website are rich in resources, including articles, interviews, blogs, newsletters, how-to manuals, member education, and information gathered just for you. We welcome the opportunity to answer questions, present programs, and teach workshops and trainings.