What is Advance Care Planning?”

Advance Care Planning means completing your Advance Directive and having the conversation with your healthcare advocate. Advance Directive documents alone don’t really work!. It is necessary to share your values and wishes through facilitated discussion with those who will be making decisions for you if you can’t speak for yourself. The process involves a number of interactions over time that increase the likelihood that your end-of-life care wishes will be followed.

What is a “home funeral?”

A home funeral is a loving way to honor and care for your loved one in the hours or days after death.  It can include any of the following:  Bringing the body home (if not already at home), caring for the body yourself, including washing, dressing and cooling with dry ice, inviting friends and family to a home visitation or wake, having a funeral service and/or having a green burial.


Is it Legal?

It is legal in all fifty states for the family to care for their own dead in the home for a few days immediately following death.  Laws vary from state, however, and in some states a funeral director must be hired to sign the death certificate or transport the body.  Some crematories or cemeteries will not accept the body directly from the family.  This is not a law, it is an individual institution requirement.  See below.


Do I have to hire a funeral director?

In Michigan the answer is Yes.  Most other states do not require this.  Current Michigan law states that a funeral director must sign the death certificate and supervise transport of the body to final disposition (crematory or cemetery).  Other than those two things, you can do everything else yourself.


Is embalming required?

Very rarely and only under very unusual circumstances.  However, most funeral homes will not allow public viewing without it.  Again, this is not a law; this is an individual funeral home requirement.  If you know you do not want embalming but want family and friends to be able to see the body and say good-bye, having a ‘home funeral’ will allow for as many visitors as you wish.


How does one care for the body?

The body is washed and dressed and laid on a bed or couch.  It is cooled with dry ice.  For step by step information, please see the Threshold Care Circle website.  It is helpful to have a care team that has discussed this ahead of time.  I offer consultations to families on the phone or in person, to help you learn how to care for your loved one at home.  If you would like more information or guidance, please contact me.


Can I bury someone in my backyard?

Yes, but in most states you must first go through the legal channels to establish a family cemetery.  Then you can bury anyone related to you.  You usually can not do this in a city.  Check with your state’s cemetery board, or contact me for more info.  Please plan ahead!  It is nearly impossible to do this without setting it up in advance.

Back to top of page