About Home Funerals

A home funeral, or family-directed funeral, is family-led after-death care.


A home funeral leaves it to the family to decide how best to honor their loved one. A home funeral does not have to be spiritually or religiously-centered and a home funeral doesn’t have to be held at home. It is, simply, the after-death care undertaken by family members, which can include ceremony, bathing, dressing, preservation, lying-in-honor, paperwork, and transport to a cemetery or crematorium. A home funeral is often an extension of hospice, where individuals are cared for, after death, by those who cared for them in life.

If you are considering cremation or a green burial, you might also consider an eco-friendly cardboard coffin. They are simple, affordable, and biodegradable. These coffins can be left plain, or they can be decorated with paint, glitter, stencils, meaningful art, dried flowers, photographs, words of love or other items that honor the deceased. This is often a wonderful project for kids and adults of all ages, and a beautiful ritual that invites mourners to grieve and process emotions. 

A home funeral guide can educate and guide the family in how to plan and carry out a home funeral.

Read more about the role of a home funeral guide

Find out about our home funeral guide certification program

Did you know…?

  • family_ndcp5Creating and carrying out your own funeral arrangements is completely legal in most states and is an innate right practiced for thousands of years around the world.
  • In most states, a family member or legally assigned Proxy can (1) act in lieu of the funeral director to orchestrate any or all funeral plans, and (2) transport the deceased to a place of ceremony, a cemetery, or a crematory
  • It is possible for the deceased to lie-in honor in a home (1 to 3 days is customary) and for the family to file the death certificate.
  • Dry ice can be used to preserve the body during an extended wake. Embalming is toxic, invasive, and is almost never required.
  • Friends and family can create an intimate atmosphere that reflects cultural and personal beliefs, including casket building and/or decoration, ritual, and sharing memories.
  • Currently, the average cost of a conventional funeral (burial) in the United States can easily run $10,000. An average cremation, $2,000.
  • Loving and meaningful arrangements to honor someone’s life can be financially tailored to individual needs and desires.

Definition of a home funeral

Excerpted from the National Home Funeral Alliance’s Code of Ethics and Initial Standards of Practice for the Vocation of Home Funeral Guide:

This is a family or community-centered response to death and after-death care. Through the millennia, this was the way we used to care for our dead; within the context of the family or the community. Most state laws support the right of the family to care for their own departed. Depending on the specifics of each state’s law, families and communities may play a key role in:

  • Planning and carrying out after-death rituals or ceremonies (such as laying out the deceased and home visitation of the body)
  • Preparing the body for burial and cremation
  • Filing of death-related paperwork such as the death certificate
  • Transporting the deceased to the place of burial or cremation
  • Facilitating the final disposition such as digging the grave at a natural burial

Home Funerals may occur within the family home or not. (Some nursing homes, for example, may allow the family to care for the deceased after death.) The emphasis is on encouraging and educating on minimal, non-invasive, and environmentally-friendly care of the body.

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