Home Funerals Without the Funeral Home

Jan 31, 2016 | 2 comments

Gail Rubin and Caitlin Doughty

Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, and Caitlin Doughty, co-founder of Undertaking LA.

In the Business Section of today’s New York Times, there’s a big article about the small but growing movement to return funerals to the care of family members. “Start-Ups Take Rites From the Funeral Home to the Family Home” looks at the particulars of helping families care for their own dead until disposition by burial or cremation.

Not only can home funerals make the events after a family death more meaningful and emotionally-satisfying for the family, home funerals can also save a great deal of money.

The story focuses on Caitlin Doughty and Amber Carvaly’s new Los Angeles area funeral home, Undertaking LA. It’s a different kind of after-death venture, one that focuses on teaching families what they need to know to do it themselves. As it says at their web site:

We are not your typical funeral parlor. Our funeral directors empower families to have a closer relationship with death and the dying process. Facing a death can be a traumatic, confusing time, and we want you to feel fully involved in your deathcare decisions.

Whether you’re looking for the chance to help prepare your loved one’s body, be present at the cremation, or bury them in a natural, green cemetery, Undertaking LA will work with you to provide these simple but deeply meaningful options.

Other familiar folks quoted in the story include Josh Slocum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance and a co-author of “Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death,” funeral celebrant Kateyanne Unullisi, a board member of the National Home Funeral Alliance, a nonprofit educational group, and funeral director Amy Cunningham, who just opened her own business in Brooklyn, Fitting Tribute Funeral Services. Recognition was also extended to the pioneering home funeral funeral home, A Sacred Moment Funeral Services in Seattle.

Congratulations to all for your coverage in this fine story!

Caitlin Doughty was also featured in the November 30, 2015 issue of The New Yorker magazine. Read “Our Bodies, Our Selves: A funeral director wants to bring death back home.”

You can read about the steps to take in New Mexico if you want to conduct a family member’s funeral yourself in this earlier Family Plot Blog post from 2012, Green Burials and Home Funerals.

And you can learn a bit more about home funerals in this 2015 talk I gave, “We Can Do That? New Trends in Death Care.”

New Trends in Death Care
A Good Goodbye