How Will States Handle DIY Funerals?

According to the New York Times , there's a hip new thing all the kids are trying these days: home funerals. Apparently, a growing number ...
by | July 21, 2009

Pine-coffin According to the New York Times , there's a hip new thing all the kids are trying these days: home funerals. Apparently, a growing number of people are bypassing funeral homes and handling the funeral -- and burial -- of a loved one at home.

From the Times:

Advocates say the number of home funerals, where everything from caring for the dead to the visiting hours to the building of the coffin is done at home, has soared in the last five years, putting the funerals "where home births were 30 years ago," according to Chuck Lakin, a home funeral proponent and coffin builder in Waterville, Me.

What's behind the new popularity? Well, mostly, money. The average American funeral costs $6,000, not including the costs of cremation or burial. Doing it yourself at home can cost as little as $250. In addition to the cost savings, some people say they like the more private, more personal tone of a home burial.

But this doesn't mean you can just bury Aunt Myrtle out by the tool shed.

According to the Times, "In Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska and New York, laws require that a funeral director handle human remains at some point in the process. In the 44 other states and the District of Columbia, loved ones can be responsible for the body themselves."

Even in the states that don't require a funeral director to be involved, you'll probably have to get a permit in order to bury someone in your back yard.

And some states are considering tightening control over home funerals, the Times says:

Recently, some states, with the backing of the funeral industry, have considered restricting the practice of home funerals. Oregon legislators last month passed a bill that would require death midwives to be licensed, something no state currently does.

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