What is a home funeral?
Also known as a family or community led death care,) home funerals are when a deceased persons circle chooses to care for (bathe, dress, etc.) and spend time with a deceased person in the comfort and privacy of their home or space, rather than doing a viewing at a funeral home. By cooling the body with dry-ice or gel ice packs, a decedent can be preserved for an extended period of time (up to several days,) while folks gather to vigil the person who has died.
Are home funerals legal?
Yes! Unfortunately, it is possible that coroners, hospital/hospice staff, first responders, and/or funeral homes may try to tell you otherwise. Even professionals are misinformed about the legality surrounding home funerals. We can help properly inform anyone you may be getting push-back from. If someone says you “can’t” have a home funeral ask them to show you the law or statute to back-up their claim (there isn’t one.)
The Colorado Revised Statutes under Title 12 Article 135 for mortuaries and crematories do not apply to citizens. Just as restaurant statutes don’t dictate what you do in your own kitchen, and barber statutes don’t dictate your right to cut your own hair, at home, mortuary statues don’t regulate citizens.
What are the benefits of home funerals?
Intimacy, Privacy, & Comfort: Home funerals allow family and/or friends to be in the presence of the body, while they gather and mourn in the privacy and comfort of their own home/space. Eat, drink, cry, laugh, sing, swear, keen.
Time & Flexibility: Rather than being limited to a two-hour viewing (for example) at a funeral home, home funerals can allow for up to several days of being in the presence of the body. This provides everyone the ability to have meaningful time with the departed, rather than just taking a quick peek into a casket. Home funerals are accommodating to a variety of schedules, in order to allow as many people as possible to spend time with the departed, without restrictive time constraints.
Cost-Savings: Not having to use a funeral home cuts down on a number of costs, including charges for things like embalming, cosmetizing, the viewing itself, and more. Home funerals can be as lavish as one wishes (custom floral, catering, a designer casket, etc.) However, many home funeral families are thrilled to not have to spend money on much more than the disposition (burial, cremation, etc.)
Reclamation: Home funerals are a reclamation in trusting in our abilities to care for our own and that we don’t need a “professional” or “expert” to tend to our dead.
Environmental Impact: Embalming (chemical preservation) is not required by law, and is not needed to have a home funeral. Also, choosing to forego caskets and other products can help minimize the environmental impacts of dying.
Are home funerals safe?
Yes. A dead body poses no more risk than a living body. Even in the case of infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis, you would take the same precautions interacting with the decedent as you did when they were alive.
Additionally, cooling a body slows the decomposition process.
What form of preservation is used in a home funeral ?
Dry ice, or gel-type ice packs.
Is home funeral possible after a death outside of the home?
Yes. While the most logistically convenient type of home funeral occurs after an expected home death, home funeral is possible in the event of deaths that occur outside of the home. Depending on the circumstances of the death, the departed may have to go to a coroner’s office, where they may or may not be autopsied. Once the departed is ready to be released from the hospital or coroner, they can be transported wherever need be. There are options for addressing trauma to the body in the case of accidents, autopsied decedents, etc. In extreme cases, a body may be wrapped in a shroud and/or we can connect families to a trustworthy, licensed reconstructionist if reconstruction is desired.
Is home funeral possible after an autopsy?
Yes. Coroner/Medical Examiner offices do not always do a great job of closing autopsy incisions, because most of the time the decedent will be going to a funeral home, who “cleans them up.” It is best to tell the coroner’s office that a home funeral will be taking place, and that you would like them to take care and close the incision(s) well. That being said, it is important to be aware of the potential need for additional clean up, bandaging, etc.
You can also ask that the Coroner/Medical Examiner consider starting with only a chest autopsy to see if they find the answers they need before also doing a cranial autopsy. They may or may not be able to honor this request.
Is home funeral possible after organ/tissue/bone donation?
Yes. Donor Alliance (in Colorado) when informed that a family is opting for home funeral, takes that into consideration when recovering organ/tissue/bone in terms of how much they recover, and the condition they release the decedent back to the family/personal representative in.
Please let the donor organization you are working with know that you are planning on having a home funeral, that there will be no Funeral Director involved if that is the case, and that you ask that they return the decedent to you in a condition that is manageable for the survivors. This may include something like them wrapping recovery sites well, placing the decedent in a plastic unionall suit, etc.
Do we have to hire a Funeral Director in Colorado?
No. Some states require the use of a Funeral Director to complete death certificate paperwork, and/or to transport a decedent. Colorado is not one of those states. Families can file the death certificate on their own, on a paper form, though in most cases the provider you hire for final disposition (burial, cremation, water cremation, etc.) will file the death certificate.
How is a Celebrant different from other officiants?
Celebrants differ from other officiants in that they craft fully personalized funerals and living funerals, true to who the person being remembered is/was. Many officiants have a go-to script that they use for all of their funerals and they just change out a few things (like the name) whereas Celebrants, as story tellers, take time to gather as much unique information as they can in order to create a personalized ceremony. They provide the full script to the family for review, approval, and edits if time allows.
What are the benefits of having a Death Doula?
Doulas work as an added layer of care, independent of, but alongside hospice staff. Doulas offer emotional support, as well as non-medical care in the form of respite, care giving, legacy projects, meaning making, vigil planning, funeral planning, and more.
Are Death Doulas covered by insurance?
No. At this time, all charges incurred are paid out-of-pocket. Ability-to-pay/sliding scale options may be available. Please contact us for more information.
Can I use my FSA or HSA to pay for a Death Doula?
No. At this time, Death Doula services are not eligible FSA/HSA expenses.
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