NOTE FROM CALEB: this picture is of a home funeral set-up. Our business, the Wilde Funeral Home, has been around for over 160 years and we still have the same kind of stands that are seen holding the casket in this picture. James Wilde (my great, grand grandfather) purchased the present Wilde Funeral Home in 1928 and began to offer “his” home for funerals thus “relieving families of sad associations during the funeral ceremonies.” He advertised “Homelike Surroundings – No Charge for Use of Home”.


It’s strange how professional practices can reverse themselves.

Traditionally, in America, funerals have been held in the “parlour” of the deceased’s home.  During the beginning decades of the twentieth century, the funeral business became more industrialized and funerals were moved to what we now call “Funeral Homes”, or “Funeral parlours.”  Recently, however, there seems to be an interesting trending back toward “home funerals.”

This could be related to an evolution in understanding what the funeral is meant to accomplish for the grieving family.  Having a funeral at a funeral home allows the director to take care of things for the family, but it also, by default, creates a disconnect between the funeral arrangements and their naturally occurring emotions.

In actuality, it causes a temporary shut-down of the grieving process for the length of time between the initial meeting with the funeral director and the post-reception gathering.  This is not a bad thing—just the way it works.

On the other hand, with “home funerals,” the grieving process is allowed to progress uninterrupted.  There is no unfamiliar setting for the funeral, no feeling that one has to put on a brave face in public.  The family and friends are in their loved one’s home (or that of a close relative or friend), surrounded by familiar objects and memories.  This fosters a feeling of security, so that it is safe to cry because everyone else understands, okay to laugh at funny memories, all right just to sit and take your time dealing with the loss.  All this happens while the funeral director patiently talks the family through their tough decisions in the comfort of their own family room or at the kitchen table.  The funeral director may even share meals and quiet time with the family. The developing familiarity and friendship prepares them to feel more comfortable during the funeral service itself.

Another benefit of home funerals is that schedules are much more relaxed for everyone.  Home funerals are actually a two or three day experience, because many of the preparatory tasks ordinarily handled at the funeral home are done at the family’s home; the funeral director simply drops by the house when matters need to be tended to.  Grieving cannot be rushed, so this new type of funeral offers a more personalized approach. Unlike funeral parlors which close at a set hour, with “home funerals,” people can sit with the deceased all night if they want or need to.  No one will tell them that they have to leave.

Home funerals meet the needs of a growing percentage of grieving families.  They are obviously not practical for large gatherings, so they will probably never become the norm—but it is comforting to know that they are an option.

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Today’s guest post comes the hard working, creative entrepreneur, Matthew White.  Matthew graduated from Cambridge in 2002 majoring in English after which he traveled Central America, Australia and South East Asia.  While abroad he gained an abundance of cultural experience and also taught English in various places. He worked for Life Trends Magazine as the creative director from 2008-2009.

Since then, he has been working on developing resources to help grieving families, which resulted in opening the website funeralparlour.com which currently specializes in obituary templates and their complete customizations. He plans on broadening the scope of this website in the near future.  Give him your “like” on his Facebook page.  

 

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