FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Home Bodies

Home funerals -- which honor the deceased in his or her own home rather than in a funeral home -- may be making a comeback.

Up until the 20th century, wakes and viewings in one's home were the rule rather than the exception. Now, though home funerals remain a minority trend (a few hundred out of the 2.4 million deaths in the US annually), some are comparing the movement to the embracing of hospices that began in the 1960s. Proponents of home funerals believe that, like hospices, they humanize death and assist in the grieving process. Cost is also a factor, as home funerals are substantially less costly than those held at funeral homes.

Lisa Carlson, executive director of the Funeral Ethics Organization, says that baby boomers represent the driving force behind home funerals as they enter their later years. "It's the other end of the spectrum from natural childbirth. The baby-boom generation took control of critical life events, wrote their own wedding vows, had home births. . . . They're fueling the interest in taking control."

Keeping the deceased at home is legal in 45 states. The funeral home industry is taking note of the trend, and some funeral homes are responding by offering services to assist those planning a home funeral. Others, however, are petitioning state legislatures to place restrictions on home funerals.

Source: Washington Post