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Home Funeral Guide

You Can Keep Them at Home

It’s how it used to be in simpler times. After our grandmother or father, brother or child, died, family and friends attended to the body at home.

It’s not for everyone, true. In our culture, we have come to rely on funeral homes to take care of our dead. So much so that we have forgotten how, or believe it is not legal. Well, it is legal, and I can help you remember what humans have done for their own since the beginning of time.

As a home funeral guide in the Seattle and Puget Sound area, I can help support you in all the details to tend with your own hands to the final needs of someone you love, in a cozy and safe place, in your own time and in your own way.

Legal, Inexpensive, and Green

In every state, it is legal to keep someone at home for after death care for up to three days. There are ten states that require some involvement by a funeral director, but in all cases, it is legal. Embalming is neither required nor necessary, and is not a green option by any account. (WA is not one of the restrictive states.)

A family-directed home funeral can cost just a few hundred dollars, whereas the average funeral costs in the U.S. are now over $8,000. You can even build a coffin yourself.

The paperwork is slightly different depending on what county and state you live in, and it is important to follow it carefully. But it’s all do-able.

In Seattle and the Puget Sound area, as your home funeral guide, I can help you sort out your surroundings, paperwork, and details.

Time, Space and Room to Say Goodbye

When someone has died, there is no urgency. No one needs to rush about. It is a time for quiet, for reflection and for sharing.

For many people, continuing to care for someone after death is healing and completing. There is plenty of time to sit with them, to say goodbye, to read or sing, cry or pray. There is no hurry and there is a great deal of privacy in a tender time.

Grieving in a private place that is familiar is an amazing experience. You watch the body slowly change in a natural way. It is not gross or frightening as we’ve come to see on TV or imagine because we aren’t exposed to it anymore. It is a slow release of aliveness. People feel that it is healing and comforting to watch this change naturally occur.

A family-directed funeral with the help of a home funeral guide can be a healing and beautiful experience.

How to Know What to Do

You have the choice to do every last thing yourself, or to do some parts and work with a funeral home on other parts. It is all your choice. I currently serve on the board of the  National Home Funeral Alliance, which is full of resources for you to know how to do it yourself.

My aim as your home funeral guide is to listen closely and help you know what would make sense in your situation. Then I can recommend resources and help clear barriers so that you are able to have the most loving ending possible. Together we will find what level of support seems best for your situation, whether I am there to guide (and legally, I am unable to be ‘hands on’ but I can be at your side, supporting you) or help you get things sorted enough that you are empowered to be on your own.

I charge $80 an hour for my planning and consulting services. Ten percent of all proceeds go to The Emerge Foundation Home Funeral Fund to help support those families who would like to keep their deceased child at home for a family-directed funeral, but cannot afford it.

Listen to a great show about home funerals. WBUR’s Sacha Pfeiffer spoke with a panel of experts about more and more Americans who are considering and choosing to have a family-directed funeral.