What is a HOME FUNERAL?

A home funeral is a viewing and/or funeral service that takes place in the home – just like it used to be 100 years ago or so. It is legal to have a home funeral in Ontario. Legal next of kin are able to claim the body of their dead loved one, and are able to register to death and obtain a burial permit on their own as well, though it is not yet common – in fact, is extremely rare – in Ontario at this time.

Families and loved ones may find the thought of a do-it-yourself funeral daunting in the midst of their grief, so they may find it helpful to seek the support of a Home Funeral Guide or Thanadoula to assist them. These deathcare professionals can assist the family in securing the paperwork needed to claim the body of their dead loved one from a hospital, nursing home or hospice, or to keep them home in the case of death in the home. They are also often trained Celebrants, or can help locate one, who can then help to create a ceremony or ritual to honour the deceased in a way that most truly reflects their spirit and personality, which can either take place in the home, or at another location.

A home funeral allows the immediate family to participate in the care of their loved one – washing and dressing - and to spend time without the restrictions placed by a funeral home. Friends can spend as much or a little time as they wish, again without having to fit into the restrictive schedule of a funeral home – depending on the family’s wishes, desires and comfort level. A dead human body, that does not have a communicable disease, is not considered a health hazard, and it is perfectly safe and legal to keep a deceased person in the home, provided a few precautions are taken. The Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education Alternatives has a great deal of information on home funerals, death midwives and thanadoulas on their website: www.cindea.ca A list of local home funeral guides and death midwives is included on the Resource Page.

Part of the keynote presentation at the Natural Death Expo will feature a Home Funeral Guide and there will be an information table on this type of service in the exhibit area.