What’s old is new – Home Funeral Q & A

Posted on April 18, 2019 by under Uncategorized
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This year, Mary Poppins returned, mason jars are everywhere, even acid-washed jeans made an unexpected resurgence. Many “new” ideas and practices are really old stand-bys making a come-back.

It turns out funerals are no exception – the old is new again. Let me explain…

When most of us picture an “old-fashioned” or “traditional” funeral, we picture an embalmed person in a casket, surrounded by flower arrangements, perhaps in a church or at the cemetery. But this is a fairly recent practice when viewed in historical perspective. Let’s go back a little further…

A snapshot from history might show a family by the bedside after the death of a loved one. They would carefully wash, dress, and position the person there in the home, where they died, perhaps in their bed, on the sofa in the living room, or they may even place the person in a casket.

People came to visit over a day, or two, or three. There was food, maybe a service of some sort, stories and tears shared amongst friends and family. Then, together, they would transport the person to the burial.

Although still not the cultural norm, the home funeral described above is entering back into the conversation when families approach death. Many people want to care for their loved ones in death, just as they have in life.

Here are a few things you may want to know about home funerals:

Is it legal to keep a person’s body at home?
Absolutely. In the state of Colorado, a person’s body must be embalmed, buried, or refrigerated within 24 hours. Refrigeration can be achieved in the home using cold gel packs or even ice packs. (Note: dry ice is not recommended as it can be unsafe in an enclosed space) A few hours or up to a day or two at home is perfectly acceptable, prior to burial or cremation.

Do we have to notify anyone?
Yes. A medical professional must pronounce the death. This will be either hospice, the coroner, or a physician. It is also advisable to involve a mortuary to assist with the death certificate and the final disposition of the person’s body.

Final disposition?
After spending time at home, the person’s body may be either buried or a cremation may take place. The family may choose to transport their loved one either to the cemetery or to the mortuary for cremation. Or the funeral home can transport.

What if my loved one dies at the hospital or nursing home?
It would be wise to check with the facility to see what their rules are regarding the release of a person’s body to family. Often, they will only release the body to a mortuary. In that case, the mortuary could transport from the facility to the home.

The home funeral may not be right for every person or every situation. However, many people don’t even know it is an option, one that is gaining traction every day.

Read more about home funerals here. Or contact us to learn more.

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