Creativity Offered to Families in Funeral Planning

Aug 7th, 2009 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

A relatively new twist on an inevitable practice has recently emerged.  For some, there would likely be little to no consideration of switching from the tried and true (and quite expensive) practice involving a mortuary and all the trimmings upon death of a family member. A new practice is touted as the Home Funeral.  To be sure it isn’t for everybody, but it does have some upsides which are worth considering.

In the traditional funeral, typically people pay for a funeral plan in advance (pre-need, it is called).  The plan is to cover all the expenses of the funeral, unless the family chooses add ons at the time of the funeral.  Of course, some families simply take money from the estate to pay for the funeral costs upon the occasion of death. Others, because of financial necessity, find themselves dividing the expense among the family.

Usually, all of this is negotiated upon the occasion of death.  Many persons choose not to address this occasion until shortly after the deceased has been picked up by a local mortuary and the family gathers to determine the style, cost, location, extras, etc that will be included in the service.  Typically, the only thing not included in the mortuary’s itemized bill is an honorarium for the officiant at the service.  Some clergy have a fee scale, some leave it up to the family. 

Home Funerals offer quite a contrast.  The largest expense in any funeral is, of course, the casket, which usually has other related expenses folded into its cost, a kind of package deal.  With the Home Funeral, someone or a group of persons, friends or family, choose to build the casket.  There are plans available which convert a set of 2 bookcases into a casket, quite nicely.  The casket then serves two purposes, one during life and the other at death.  The other consideration is that it allows the persons who build the unit, perhaps even including the one who will later occupy it, to be a part of the project.  Further, this means pre-thought has been given to eventual need.

Home funerals may also be conducted in the home, assuming they are commodious enough to accomodate the expected attendees.  At least, the customary visit before the funeral can be had in the home over a period of a few hours, if desired.  Churches, almost without exception, though there are some, would likely accomodate the request for a service to be held on their premises.  It is usually customary to invite the host clergy to participate in some way in the service proper. There will be other location options, depending upon availabilty in the community and involvement on the part of the family for requesting them.

Depending upon where the burial will take place, either on private land or in a cemetery, where some rules and requirements will need to be met and perhaps a fee paid, all of those details can be worked out well in advance.  A monument can be placed at the site of burial.  If it is on private land, that can be done in advance, with only the date of death to be added at a subsequent time.

Home Funerals, as in the case of  a mortuary funeral, would require pall bearers.  These might be, in the case of a home funeral, those who participated in fashioning the casket.

Participants may include an invited clergy, special friends or family, depending upon the desires of the family.  In planning the service proper, someone should be designated to guide the process, usually it is the presiding clergy, but could be a sibling or some other person fitted to the task.  At all costs, keep conflict and disagreement at an absolute minimum. 

Following a Home Funeral a reception is always desirable.  Location and other accomodation needs will need to be taken into consideration.  Most of the time friends, church members and others will want to have a part in making that happen. Costs for a Home Funeral can be kept at a very reasonable minimum.  Persons who wish to make contributions can be provided a list of charitable causes, important to the deceased, which  can be given in honor of the deceased.

The third most commonly practiced service today is a Memorial Service, in which the body of the deceased is not present.  This often follows when the deceased has donated his/her body for medical research or has been cremated.  There are few costs related to this process and can adopt several dimensions of the Home Funeral, e.g. scattering of the ashes at a predetermined location. 

In all of this there are certain legal requirements which will need to be determined and met. These need to be known and someone designated to make sure they are appropriately addressed.  

Death, like life, offers a wide variety of options for recognizing and celebrating the life of the deceased.  Custom works for some.  Innovation is appropriate for others.  Finding the expression which means the most to the family and intimate friends involved is the recommended and desired goal.



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  1. I really like your blog and i respect your work. I’ll be a frequent visitor.

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