For in-home funerals, a 21st-century revival

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 30, 2011 - 11:23 PM

In a throwback to the 1800s, a growing number of families are turning to do-it-yourself vigils.

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UMD1983Dec. 1, 11 7:48 AM

We've been too removed from the experience of death for a long time. As hard as it is, having someone pass away at home can help everyone get through the process. My dad died at home with in-home hospice care, and my sister and I traded off nights for the last week of his life so that he and my mom would always have someone with them. It was peaceful, and we were able to comfort him until the very end. It's not always possible to do it this way, but it's just a much more comforting setting for everyone involved.

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fish60Dec. 1, 11 8:11 AM

The funeral homes we've dealth with in the past few years have gouged us as deeply as possible. $5,000 for a cremation. $12,000 for a basic funeral with friends providing the music. When I go put me in the middle of a cord of good dry oak and send me off. Then spread the ashes out in the woods where I belong.

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uofm1987Dec. 1, 11 8:27 AM

This may seem like a nice idea, but there is a reason we changed to funeral homes. You never know what your loved ones body is going to do when it dies. It is not true that he/she will not smell. Depending on the medication they received when alive, they start to decompose instantly. This may work in the best of cases, but most people are not the best case. There are car accidents, suicides, murders, and natural causes. Natural causes can mean that you have been sick for a long time. Meaning that your body is shutting down before it dies, creating more damage and odor. There are so many disease that you can catch from a body. Tuberculous, for example. Funeral directors are tested regularly for Tb, to be certain that they have not contracted it. Now, we have MRSA, we do not even know what damage that could do to people around a body. There are too many un-known's, that is why funeral director gown up in protective gear, when handling a deceased person. It is simple, we have funeral homes for a reason. There are many traditions we use to do, but we have realized that they are not sanitary or safe. For 99% of the population, at-home funerals are not reasonable. You chose a funeral home that you trust. The news, may portray funeral homes as crooks, but they are members of your community.

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mwallekDec. 1, 11 9:35 AM

For any living person who has dealt with the "business" of death this is a wonderful alternative. The professional grief shared by the funeral industry is often insulting, especially as one is being sold to.

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horsesetcDec. 1, 1110:02 AM

I lost my husband on July 4t of this year to cancer. While I never had given any thought to something such as an at-home viewing and services. After going through all we did in his last days, I would have found this a very comforting 'finish' and 'going away' process.

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mplssellDec. 1, 1110:55 AM

Excellent story - makes you think of the care given to loved ones by families, before mortuaries became very profitable businesses.

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nemotodesDec. 1, 1111:36 AM

Call me when we can start planting our loved ones in the backyard.

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lars2437Dec. 1, 11 3:22 PM

The writer, Mr. Jeff Strickler failed to do his homework on this topic and interview a more varied range of people who deal with death everyday. Too many inaccurate statements are made in this article. Caring for a dead human remains is not as simple as you portray it in this article.

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fish62Dec. 4, 11 9:57 AM

Great article. I have been researching my own end of life options on preparingtodie.com and was pleased to see this as an option. As Baby Boomers become the next generation to face death and dying, this industry will change just like many of the other industries that we have impacted. This fits in with the concept of the environmental movement and green burials.

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thelainesDec. 8, 11 3:19 PM

I want to first acknowledge appreciation for our community funeral directors. They provide a real and valuable service. That said, the "American way of death" needs to be reconsidered. For eons, families dealt with their own dead. Now, after just a few generations of giving the job to others, we are afraid of the dead body. However, in almost all cases, our deceased loved ones are totally safe to be around. In making the legislative changes, I reviewed the scientific research and called in expert epidemiologist testimony. Rest assured, we can safely and rightfully consider a more personal alternative to the care of our deceased loved ones.

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