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Return of the Home Funeral

Offer traditional home funeral guidance in place of modern funeral director/funeral home services

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

This reduces costs of death care for anyone. Many funeral tasks can be done by those caring for the deceased, under helpful supervision, instead of by a funeral home. Much can be done or planned in advance to make it less stressful.

This changes end-of-life because it allows for keeping a deceased person's body at home, which eases the letting go process. Washing and dressing a loved one's body and spending time with the body after death is profoundly beautiful, especially when shared.

Home Funeral Guides already exist throughout the U.S., and have a long history, but are not well known to the general public.  The basic premise is that a guide helps a family before and after a person's death to ensure that all necessary steps are taken and all choices offered, without having to make use of expensive funeral home services.  A funeral home could offer these services as an alternative.  

Home Funerals are just that.  Funerals held at home, usually with the body present.  The full version of this would include a person dying at home (or being brought home immediately after death), being washed and dressed by loved ones, being laid out ceremonially for viewing, being kept at home for typically 3-5 days while friends and family visit, a memorial or funeral service, transporting the body to a cemetery or crematorium, and burying or witnessing a cremation.  

Along with the above, another difference from a conventional funeral is using simple coffins, such as cardboard cremation boxes, that can be custom decorated by friends and family, or shrouds, baskets, etc that are lower cost than the conventional formal casket.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

This is already being done in my community, spearheaded by Final Passages in Sebastopol, which offers nationwide training. The National Home Funeral Alliance supports work in Home Funerals around the country. Feedback from families who experience this is steeped in gratitude and fosters transformation of beliefs about death.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

We need to make sure this type of home funeral is protected legally, and to spread the word that it is legal, affordable and beautiful.

Tell us about your work experience:

I work in energy efficiency consulting, but plan to work in home funeral guidance and end of life planning in the near future.

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Hi Laura, interesting post! Any chance you could find an image to go along with it? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO.