by Dennis Shuman
In our Gainesville community, we are fortunate to have Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery which provides a natural or “green” burial choice. This type of burial uses biodegradable containers and avoids embalming fluids and vaults. The minimal fees are used to pay for land acquisition, protection, restoration and management of the area.
Just as we have the option of a “home birth” for entering this world, we have the option of having a “home funeral” prior to the “final disposition” of the body.
A home funeral is when a family and/or friends take possession of and care for the body of a loved one from the time of death until burial or cremation. It is legal in the State of Florida and minimally involves filing proper paperwork, transporting and chilling (after 24 hours) the body. Embalming is unnecessary.
Any other activities incorporated into a home funeral reflect the previously expressed wishes of the deceased and the preferences of family and/or friends. This may involve having the body at home for some time, preparing the body, rituals, visitations and vigils, religious services, etc.
Throughout all of human history, and until the mid-1800s here in America, there was no funeral industry and families naturally took care of their own deceased. Death and having home funerals were simply part of the fabric of life.
Many people in today’s culture are uneasy with the thought of being with or touching a corpse, even if it is someone they love. We hide from death and shield our children from it. However, once most people have had their first experience with the body of someone they know, that discomfort diminishes, allowing them to be lovingly present during this profound time with the deceased. Home funerals bring people together in a final act of compassionate service for the deceased, promoting healing in the grieving process.
A home funeral is virtually free, saving families thousands of dollars. Its popularity is growing nationally and it is your legal right as guaranteed by the State of Florida statutes and regulations.
Home funerals do require adequate knowledge and planning in order to fulfill legal requirements and other appropriate activities. However, in the Gainesville area, this can easily be accomplished with the support and guidance of Final Friends volunteers.
To learn more about after death options and home funerals, or to become a Final Friends volunteer, please visit www.finalfriends.org or call 352-374-4478.