Intro to Home Funerals
In simple terms, a home funeral is where a family, community and/or executor of a person deceased stay involved in the arrangements and give care to their person as much or as little as possible. They choose where that person will be, who will assist them and ultimately set the direction and pace of how that journey will proceed.
Increasingly, our society is examining the contemporary methods of funeral and from that searching for a way that provides a more personal experience.
Below we've given a high level introduction to the topic. Should you have further questions, please get in touch.
What constitutes a home funeral?
There are many ways in which a home funeral can take place. A family, community and/or executor may like to:
Transport the body of their person
Organise and/or conduct any ritual or funeral ceremony
Keep their person at home with them for all or part of the time between the death taking place and the burial or cremation
Give after death care to their person including washing and dressing them
Make arrangements for the registration of death and attend to permits required
Depending on State legislations, it is possible for a family, community and/or executor to take their person from the place of death to their home and then when required to the cemetery or crematorium. This is not possible in every state and enquiries should be made if this is possible in your locality.
Home Funeral Image?
What can happen in the home?
Once at home (or indeed if you are allowed the time and space at the place of death), the family, community and/or executor are able to do what you feel is necessary to look after that person’s body. This can include washing, dressing or wrapping, encoffining a person and keeping them at home for several days. How long a person can be kept at home depends on the State. In NSW for example the deceased may stay at home for up to 5 days, in Tasmania there is no prescribed length of time. General consensus in the Home Funeral Movement suggests that depending on the climate and manner of death, 3-5 days is a reasonable time to keep a body at home without any outward signs of decomposition being present. Indeed, there have been various examples of people keeping their loved ones at home for longer periods without incident.
What are the practical concerns?
One important consideration when choosing to keep a person at home is the cooling of that person. It is necessary to maintain a cool room, free of direct sunlight where possible and to maintain a body temperature of 5 degrees Celsius or lower. This is possible and there are various options available that make this possible. The use of a cooling bed or blanket, a cuddle cot for a child, ice packs, dry ice, damp towels and/or Techniice (an Australian re-usable product) in conjunction with portable air conditioners to assist in keeping room temperature cool are all options available to Tasmanians. If this cool temperature is maintained, then you are not required to place the care of your loved one in the hands of a mortuary or into refrigeration.
Other processes and requirements
Taking time after a death in a more gentle and familiar surrounding also allows time for the organisation of the other more practical and legislative requirements and processes which are otherwise rather hurriedly done in a relatively short interview with a Funeral Director. Regardless of how you choose to handle the funeral, you will be required to:
- Register the death with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
- Complete a Burial or Cremation Permit
- Make a booking for either Burial or Cremation
- Transport the body to the Burial or Cremation location
Some of this may require the input and assistance of a third party such as a funeral home depending on jurisdictional requirements, this is likely to be the case where an independent doctor is required to sign a cremation permit.
Choosing a home funeral allows for agency and autonomy in decision making and offers people a say in setting the course and pace that is taken when someone dies. A family, community and/or executor can have as much or as little input and control over what happens with their person and this has both financial benefits and also the opportunity for significant positive impacts on the grief and bereavement experiences of all involved.