Throughout most of human history, families and religious communities have cared for their own dead. It was only after the Civil War and the advent of embalming that the modern funeral industry arose. Here in Washington State we have always had the right to care for our loved ones after death, however it has been generations since it has been commonly practiced. Many Jewish and Muslim communities have never stopped caring for their own and continue to do so to this day.
Home funeral vigils are an increasingly popular option for families – especially for those who are able to die at home on hospice. The choice of foregoing the services of a funeral home definitely requires advance planning and preparation.
Some of the benefits of a home funeral vigil:
- Family and friends can grieve their loss together in a private non-institutionalized setting. A family-directed funeral promotes healing and closure by providing a safe, loving environment where emotions can be expressed and held, and where death’s mysteries can be explored with others.
- Home funerals create the spirit of community as family and friends gather together for support, grieving and life celebration.
- A vigil lasts as long as the family wishes – from a few hours up to three days.
- Freedom of spiritual expression is available in a home funeral vigil providing the space and time to create exactly what those left behind, really need.
- Home funeral vigils create an environment where children can experience death as a natural part of life. Fears are often replaced by a healing sense of participation in a loved one’s departure.
- Home funeral vigils encourage active, creative and healing expression, such as building or decorating the casket, or creating special rituals of remembrance.
- Home funeral vigils are much more cost-effective than conventional funeral options, and can be shaped to fit a family’s lifestyle and budget.
- Home funeral vigils use dry ice and refrigeration to preserve the body, instead of embalming. Families can choose cremation, green or conventional burial for the final disposition. The opportunity to not embalm goes hand in hand with green burials, making home funeral vigils a natural and sustainable death practice.
Once the Home Funeral Vigil is completed and a death certificate has been filed, burial or cremation may take place.
For more information, we recommend the following sites: