Many more people are creating their own funerals at home, without the help or interference of a funeral parlor. They are even building coffins for the eventuality, that double as coffee tables, or bookcases until needed. According to a front page article in the New York Times, “Advocates say the number of home funerals, where everything from caring for the dead to the visiting hours to the building of the coffin is done at home, has soared in the last five years, putting the funerals “where home births were 30 years ago,” according to Chuck Lakin, a home funeral proponent and coffin builder in Waterville, Me.”
If you think about it, until fairly recently, this was how people buried their loved ones. It’s just been in the past hundred years or so that funeral homes came into being and the funeral industry became the $11 billion behemoth it currently is. But home burials require advance planning, and most people are loathe to bring up the subject. You also need a piece of land, as Central Park (suggested by a Times reader) won’t do, and New York is one of the few states where DIY is illegal. Now the interesting paradox is that you can bury any animal in your backyard, as I found out this week, when a friend of mine had to bury a horse.
As much as we could have a lot of fun with this, it’s not really dealing with the issue. Is there someone who knows what your wishes are or those of your family? Have you looked into alternatives; cremation (and no, you can not do that at home), donating the organs, or body to science? Here’s a link to a pretty good funeral directive, but you should check that it’s applicable in your state. And as crazy as it sounds, try writing your own obituary. It’s actually a very interesting and moving experience figuring out how you want to be remembered.