What are the gifts and benefits of home funerals?

Family and friends can grieve their loss together in a private non-institutionalized setting. A family-directed funeral promotes healing and closure by providing a safe, loving container where emotions can be expressed and held, and where death’s mysteries can be explored with others.

Home funerals create the spirit of community as family and friends gather together for support, grieving and life celebration.

A vigil lasts as long as the family wishes – from a few hours up to three days. This allows those grieving more time to come to terms with the death, find a sense of closure and create personal and meaningful rituals of farewell with others.

Freedom of spiritual expression is available in a home funeral vigil. Whether it is a Christian family singing Amazing Grace over their mother’s body, or a Buddhist community chanting prayers to accompany their friend’s consciousness after death, vigils provide the space and time to create exactly what the departed person, and those left behind, really need.

Home funeral vigils create an environment where children can experience death as a natural part of life. Often children lead the way in this endeavor, especially if parents are comfortable with the process themselves. Fears are often replaced by a healing sense of participation in a loved one’s departure.

Home funeral vigils encourage active, creative and healing expression, such as building or decorating the casket, or creating special rituals of remembrance. Such direct physical and spiritual connection to the reality of death can deeply aid a person’s journey through the stages of grief. Those who participate in home funeral vigils often go on to prepare their own end of life arrangements, knowing how helpful this is to those left behind.

Home funeral vigils are much more cost-effective than conventional funeral options, and can be shaped to fit a family’s lifestyle and budget.

Home funeral vigils use dry ice and refrigeration to preserve the body, instead of embalming. Families can choose cremation, green or conventional burial as disposition. The opportunity to not embalm goes hand in hand with green burials (see below), making home funeral vigils a natural and sustainable death practice very needed today.

From   “A Sacred Moment –  Home Funeral Vigils, Green Burials and Life Celebrations”  article by Lucinda Herring for Natural Choice Magazine Seattle