D-I-Y Funerals

May 15, 2009 Hull & Hull LLP Estate Planning Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

I recently came across an article which suggests that Do-It-Yourself (D-I-Y) funerals are an emerging trend in the United States. The article charts the growth of the home funeral movement in the last two decades.

A D-I-Y home funeral can mean many things. A family member may want to build the casket, hold a visitation at home, and they may even want to prepare the body for viewing. The D-I-Y movement provides information on the different state laws and guides family members in the completion of the related forms.

Fuelled by economic concerns, an increased desire to personalized funerals, and the ecology movement which discourages the use of embalming chemicals, some families are investigating this option. 

Comparing the D-I-Y home funeral movement to the home birth movement, some advocates suggest that professional services disassociate family members from the grieving process and a return to a home funeral results in a more meaningful experience.

Not sold on the merits of preparing your loved one’s body for viewing and burial? Max Alexander has written a touching piece on his experience with a home funeral and a regular funeral. Alexander’s father and father–in-law died in the same month. While his father had a traditional funeral, his father-in-law had a home funeral. Despite all the paperwork involved, Alexander favours the home funeral approach.

In Ontario, funerals are heavily regulated but it is not illegal to prepare a family member for burial and cremation without the assistance of a funeral home as long as you are in compliance with all relevant regulations. However, in order to comply with all regulations and obtain the proper paperwork, funeral directors are an invaluable source. Further, funeral homes are adapting to the requests of families by accepting homemade caskets and preparing bodies for viewings held at a private home.

And remember that the D-I-Y funeral movement does not include D-I-Y burials and cremations; some things have to be left to the professionals.

Enjoy your (long) weekend!

Diane Vieira

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