About Home Funeral
Contrary to popular belief, embalming, cremation or burial is not required within 24 or even 48 hours of death under most circumstances. Families can care for their own loved one in the home after death. This is what everyone did three to four generations ago and what many people still do throughout the world. It’s called a “home funeral.” With proper care it is safe, simple, inexpensive and legal. Merilynne Rush has provided information and support to over 30 families in several states, through in-person or phone consultation. She helps families thoroughly prepare for and understand how to care for their own dead at home, whether the death was anticipated or sudden. She is available for public presentations to your group or congregation, as well as private family or individual consultations. Many end-of-life doulas offer services as a home funeral guide. Lifespan doula training includes an introduction to this field.
The benefits of home funeral and green burial include personal expression of grief in a relaxed and loving atmosphere, inclusion of the family and the community, and an easier grief journey for those involved. Both home funeral and green burial offer environmental benefits as well.
A home funeral is a loving way to honor and care for your loved one after death. It can include any of the following:
- Bringing the body home (if not already at home)
- Washing and dressing the body
- Laying the body out on a bed or sofa in the bedroom or living room
- Cooling the body with dry ice
- Inviting friends and family to a home visitation or wake
- Having a funeral service at home or in a place of worship
- Having a green burial, either on your own property or in a cemetery
Embalming is rarely required, however, most funeral homes will not allow a public visitation without it. Merilynne helps families completely understand the state-by-state laws that govern home funeral practices, as well as the common practices that are often portrayed as law. In addition, she honors, and helps others to abide by, their religious and cultural mores concerning the care of the dead, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American and Anthroposophic practices. Merilynne speaks fluent Spanish. For more information, please visit AfterDeathHomeCare.com, and the National Home Funeral Alliance.
About Green Burial
Green Burial means putting the body in the ground and allowing it to go back to nature with as little interference in the decomposition process as possible. There is no one definition of green burial, but most agree on three primary requirements:
- Burial without the use of a cement vault or grave liner
- Burial in a biodegradable container
- No embalming with toxic chemicals
In addition to these basics of natural burial, many green cemeteries also
- Restrict grave markers to wood or stone, or have a memorial wall or bench instead
- Don’t allow visitation to the actual grave site (to protect native plants)
- Minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers
- Practice natural grounds maintenance techniques, such as planting native grasses or flowers and controlled burn instead of mowing and weed whacking
- Open up the cemetery for other uses, such as creating nature paths or picnic areas
Nationally, there are over 300 cemeteries in 39 states that offer green burial (see list here). Michigan is home to 10 green cemeteries. Additionally, it is possible to create a family cemetery on one’s own property. Merilynne has consulted and advised on the creation of several green cemeteries in Michigan, and presented at the Michigan Association of Municipal Cemeteries 2016 annual conference. She formed the Ann Arbor Green Burial Network and served on the board of directors of the National Green Burial Council. She is an expert on the subject and is available for consultations and presentations. For more information, please visit AfterDeathHomeCare.com.