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Home Funerals & Green Burial

Home Funerals & Green Burial

Home Funerals

Throughout most of human history, families and religious communities have cared for their own dead. It's only been since the Civil War that funeral customs have changed so dramatically. In fact, 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.

Some of the benefits of a home funeral vigil:

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 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:

Directory of Home Funeral Resources

National Home Funeral Alliance

Undertaken With Love

A Sacred Moment

Green Burial 

Green Burial is considered to be the most environmentally-friendly choice of final disposition. However, even green burial has some environmental impacts – the natural decay of the body produces methane gas, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon. Nonetheless, Green Burial remains the most earth-friendly way to leave this world.

Green burial involves no chemical preservation of the body. The deceased is simply placed into a biodegradable casket or natural fiber shroud and directly into the soil with no concrete grave liner. There is no manicured lawn or sea of monuments in a green cemetery. Instead, the grave may be marked by a native tree or shrub. On the surface grows vegetation that is native to the ecosystem. Ultimately, a natural burial ground becomes a green space which is preserved for future generations to enjoy. A true natural burial ground also has a conservation easement to prevent future development of the land.

The Green Burial Council (GBC) certifies three categories of cemeteries offering natural or “green burial”:

Hybrid, Natural, and Conservation Burial Grounds. 

Washington has all three kinds of burial grounds, with committed people working to create more in the future. Additionally, it is often possible to have a “green burial” without a cement vault in some rural cemeteries in the state of Washington. These cemeteries are not GBC certified, but they are open to people who want a simpler, more natural burial.

People's Memorial partners with two green cemeteries and two funeral homes. For more information, visit our Green Options page.

For more information on green burial and certified service providers visit the Green Burial Council website. If green burial is your wish, you may wish to complete the Planning Guide produced by the Green Burial Council.