My dad had never thought about home burial until his mother died of cancer. She had requested that she not be embalmed and that family members dress her body and conduct her funeral. My dad helped his siblings make her coffin--no hermetically sealed affair, but a simple wooden box to hold her remains. My grandfather was so touched by the beauty and simplicity of a home burial that he requested the same for himself. My dad is an ardent supporter of home funerals and green burials, after participating in both his parents'. He started making handmade wood coffins as a side hobby and has sold a few to friends and acquaintances. I'm not sure what the one in our garage is for, since it's been there for a few years now.
The New York Times recently published an article about home funerals and green burials: Home Burials Offer an Intimate Alternative.
Baby boomers who are handling arrangements for the first time are particularly looking for a more intimate experience. “It’s organic and informal, and it’s on our terms,” said Nancy Manahan of Minneapolis, who helped care for her sister-in-law, Diane Manahan, after she died of cancer in 2001, and was a co-author of a book, “Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully,” about the experience. “It’s not having strangers intruding into the privacy of the family. It’s not outsourcing the dying process to professionals.”I couldn't help but notice the parallels between home burials and home births: a desire for more intimacy, for birth/death to happen on your own terms, and for the process to be one mediated by family members rather than by professionals. In fact, the article compared the upsurge in home burials to the home birth renaissance three decades ago:
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.So, if anyone needs to buy a coffin, I know of a beautiful handmade one ready to go. And my mom will thank you for decluttering her garage!