Bringing funerals back home is remembering our capacity to care for our own.
Up until the 1850s in North America, death and after-death care occurred almost exclusively at home. Family and community members took an active role in caring for and burying their loved ones. During the Civil War, soldiers who died often were far away from home and unable to be returned. Embalming was a way to stall the decomposition process and make it possible for soldiers to return home. The funeral industry was born — and for the most part, funeral directors continue to be hired to do the work we once did together.
As we continue to raise our awareness to life, it seems only natural that we would raise our awareness towards death. A home funeral is one of the ways we can say goodbye with loving awareness.
A home funeral occurs when the body of a loved one stays or is brought home after death, cared for by family, friends, and others who offer their support. Oftentimes it involves washing, dressing and laying the body out for viewing before final disposition or a service at another location. With proper cooling methods, home funerals can last hours to up to three days. It’s up to the loved ones to set the pace, allowing themselves the time to absorb the loss.
By participating in a home funeral, we co-create a space that is a reflection of the life and loss through our own voices, hands and hearts.