Home Funerals

Tending to our deceased loved ones at home has been a traditional practice and responsibility in cultures around the world since the beginning. In the United States, it has been only since the Civil War, when the staggering number of deaths grew to be overwhelming, that this practice moved out of the home—and the American mortuary industry stepped in to establish itself as first-line caretaker of the deceased. Unfortunately, as a result, we have lost touch with this important and basic ritual. In recent years, though, there has been renewed and growing interest in home funerals. Caring for our dead with dignity and respect in the final phase of the life process can give a family a sense of closure with the passing of their loved one. As with modern movements in home birthing and home schooling, we can choose to embrace home funerals again to make them an accepted part of our lives.

Participating in the process of a home funeral is like a prayer. The body is laid out in honor by loved ones, usually on a bed or table. The body is cleansed, annointed with essential oils (e.g., lavender, rose), dressed and adorned with any sacred or cherished objects that held meaning for the person. Dry ice is placed under and on top of the torso to delay any decomposition.

When the preparation process is completed, visitors are invited to come and pay their respects. A home funeral can last for one to five days, allowing time for family and friends to say good-bye. This is often a transformative experience for those who attend.

Karen has assisted several families with their home funerals as an intern with Final Passages. She demonstrates confidence, ease and a compassionate heart in her work as a death midwife. With her experience in hospice work, leading grief support groups and as an instructor for Final Passages, Karen instills trust and is a calm presence in the midst of intensity, attributes highly valued and necessary in this field.
~Jerrigrace Lyons, Executive Director Final Passages

Final Passages is an organization that provides community education about personal and legal rights to conduct home funerals as an alternative to current mortuary-controlled funeral practices. Check their site for more information and a schedule of classes.

Karen Cappa entered into our mother’s passing like an angelic spirit both graceful and extremely resourceful. She picked up the cremation casket and drove it to our house and helped our whole family express our love though writings, flowers and pictures. The casket looked beautiful when we were done and it now is a cherished joyful memory of our mother’s passing. Karen helped us navigate with confidence and beauty. Eternal Thanks.
~The Hillgrove Family

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