How to Hold a Home Viewing Before Cremation or Burial

In the state of Oregon, home funerals and home viewings before burial or cremation services are both legal and safe. The number of people embracing Do-It-Yourself funerals is growing. Home funerals can save money and also create bonding opportunities for people and their loved ones. The DIY’ers who have prepared their loved one’s body for a home viewing or service have reported the experience to be overwhelmingly healing.

Caitlin Dougherty, a mortician, author and blogger based in Los Angeles works with families who care for their deceased loved ones at home. She describes in her book From Here to Eternity the experience of a young woman who cared for her mother at her time of death with a small home ceremony before she was taken to be cremated.

“The next day her daughter sent us a video she shot on her cellphone,” Dougherty writes. “In the thirty-second clip, the dead woman lies in bed, dressed in her favorite sweater and scarf. Candles flicker on the dresser beside the bed, and the body is covered in flower petals. Even in the grainy cell phone footage, you could tell that Josephine looked radiant her last night on Earth. Her daughter felt genuine pride in her accomplishment. Her mother had always taken care of her, and now she was taking care of her mother.”

There is growing awareness about home death care and preparation for the deceased at home. This trend could follow in the path of the home birth movement, which has increased in recent years.

People are seeking alternative death experiences outside of cultural and societal norms.

“We are seeing a steady increase in interest of people from every socio-economic and age level searching for more environmentally, culturally, financially, and spiritually satisfying after-death experiences,” Lee Webster, President of National Home Funeral Alliance told the Philly Voice. “There is a simultaneous and systemic embracing of death and grief as normative processes in life, not as illnesses to overcome.”

Even though everyone dies, rarely do we see deathcare and preparation for the deceased. Before the 1900s, North American families would prepare their deceased loved ones at home and conduct a home ceremony before transporting them to a final resting site. It wasn’t until the start of the 20th century that it was expected funeral services require embalming and a casket burial.

“Realistically, the majority of people experiencing a loss might not be interested in a full wake at their home, but taking the time to give your loved one a sponge bath and a fresh set of clothes before they are transported to a funeral home can be very healing experience,” Solace Funeral Director Malisa Riceci said. “This is your loved one and it is a beautiful rite of passage to spend time with them after they have passed.”

Caring for the deceased doesn’t have to only happen in a home. Care can also take place at a hospital or care facility. Spending time with your loved one’s body before they are taken into care can recenter and change memories of that loved one’s death.

Solace Cremation is available to work directly with families who want to oversee services for their loved at home. By taking care of the regulated logistics like transportation, the cremation process and registering death certificates with the state, Solace has the unique ability to give precious time back to a family.

Solace’s added functionality of a modernized digital platform for online cremation service arrangements eases families by offering electronic signature for necessary paperwork and allows families the ability to stay home to personally facilitate their loved one’s final wishes. This cherished time can be spent grieving together and planning a service that is more intimate and surrounded with the love, comfort and familiarity of home.

If you’re interested in learning more about DIY funerals, read Home Funeral Alliance’s DIY Guide to Bodycare.

Photo by Alex Robert

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