Natural burial is the interment of the body of a dead person in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to be naturally recycled. It is an alternative to other contemporary Western burial methods and funerary customs.
A cadaver is a dead human body that is used by medical students, physicians and other scientists to study anatomy, identify disease sites, determine causes of death, and provide tissue to repair a defect in a living human being. Students in medical school study and dissect cadavers as a part of their education. Others who study cadavers include archaeologists and artists.
Death is the permanent cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include aging, predation, malnutrition, disease, suicide, homicide, starvation, dehydration, and accidents or major trauma resulting in terminal injury. In most cases, bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.
Soil is a mixture of organic matter, minerals, gases, liquids, and organisms that together support life. Earth's body of soil, called the pedosphere, has four important functions:
The body may be prepared without chemical preservatives or disinfectants such as embalming fluid, which might destroy the microbial decomposers that break the body down. It may be buried in a biodegradable coffin, casket, or shroud. The grave does not use a burial vault or outer burial container that would prevent the body's contact with soil. The grave should be shallow enough to allow microbial activity similar to that found in composting. Natural burials can take place both on private land (subject to regulations) and in any cemetery that will accommodate the vault-free technique.[ citation needed ]
Embalming is the art and science of preserving human or animal remains by treating them to forestall decomposition. The intention is usually to make the deceased suitable for public or private viewing as part of the funeral ceremony, or keep them preserved for medical purposes in an anatomical laboratory. The three goals of embalming are sanitization, presentation, and preservation, with restoration being an important additional factor in some instances. Performed successfully, embalming can help preserve the body for a duration of many years. Embalming has a very long and cross-cultural history, with many cultures giving the embalming processes a greater religious meaning.
Embalming chemicals are a variety of preservatives, sanitising and disinfectant agents, and additives used in modern embalming to temporarily prevent decomposition and restore a natural appearance for viewing a body after death. A mixture of these chemicals is known as embalming fluid and is used to preserve bodies of deceased persons for both funeral purposes and in medical research in anatomical laboratories. The period for which a body is embalmed is dependent on time, expertise of the embalmer and factors regarding duration of stay and purpose.
Decomposers are organisms that break down dead or decaying organisms, and in doing so, they carry out the natural process of decomposition. Like herbivores and predators, decomposers are heterotrophic, meaning that they use organic substrates to get their energy, carbon and nutrients for growth and development. While the terms decomposer and detritivore are often interchangeably used, detritivores must ingest and digest dead matter via internal processes while decomposers can directly absorb nutrients through chemical and biological processes hence breaking down matter without ingesting it. Thus, invertebrates such as earthworms, woodlice, and sea cucumbers are technically detritivores, not decomposers, since they must ingest nutrients and are unable to absorb them externally.
While all natural burials seek to prevent environmental damage done by conventional techniques, some go a step further by using burial fees to acquire land to restore native habitat and save endangered species.Such land management techniques are called "conservation burials." In addition to restoration ecology, and habitat conservation projects, others have proposed alternative natural uses of the land such as sustainable agriculture and permaculture, to maintain the burial area in perpetuity. Landscaping methods may accelerate or slow down the decomposition rate of bodies, depending on the soil system.
Restoration ecology is the scientific study supporting the practice of ecological restoration, which is the practice of renewing and restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action.
Habitat conservation is a management practice that seeks to conserve, protect and restore habitats and prevent species extinction, fragmentation or reduction in range. It is a priority of many groups that cannot be easily characterized in terms of any one ideology.
Sustainable agriculture is farming in sustainable ways, which means meeting society's food and textile present needs, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It can be based on an understanding of ecosystem services. It includes profit, environmental stewardship, fairness, health, business and familial aspects on a farm setting. There are many methods to increase the sustainability of agriculture. Sustainability focuses on the business process and practice of a farm in general, rather than a specific agricultural product.
The first official conservation burial was established in the United States, however Natural Burial Grounds have been used previously in UK and the practice matches the methods used in many ancient and indigenous cultures.
Many funeral directors encourage a viewing of a dead body at a commercial funeral home as part of a "package" that the family of the deceased pay for, without knowing that it is optional. [ citation needed ]The primary purpose of embalming is disinfection, although dead bodies are not dangerous or in need of disinfecting. The secondary purpose is to halt decomposition long enough to allow the body to be viewed.
A funeral director, also known as an undertaker or mortician, is a professional involved in the business of funeral rites. These tasks often entail the embalming and burial or cremation of the dead, as well as the arrangements for the funeral ceremony. Funeral directors may at times be asked to perform tasks such as dressing, casketing, and cossetting. A funeral director may work at a funeral home or be an independent employee.
In funeral services, a viewing is the time that the family and friends come to see the deceased after they have been prepared by a funeral home. It is generally recommended that any body to be viewed be embalmed in order to create the best possible presentation of the deceased. A viewing may take place at the funeral parlor, in a family home or at a church or chapel prior to the actual funeral service. Some cultures, such as the Māori of New Zealand, often take the body to the Marae or tribal community hall.
A funeral home, funeral parlor or mortuary, is a business that provides interment and funeral services for the dead and their families. These services may include a prepared wake and funeral, and the provision of a chapel for the funeral.
In many countries, the law requires that dead bodies be chilled with dry ice or mechanical refrigeration to prevent microbial growth, though there are no laws mandating embalming, contrary to popular belief. Many cultures around the world use no artificial cooling at all, and bodies are regularly held for several days before their final disposal.
Dry Ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide. It is used primarily as a cooling agent. Its advantages include lower temperature than that of water ice and not leaving any residue. It is useful for preserving frozen foods where mechanical cooling is unavailable.
Special circumstances, such as an extended time between death and burial, or the transportation of remains on commercial flights (which often require unembalmed bodies to travel in expensive specialized containers), may necessitate embalming.
The most common embalming fluid is composed of organic chemicals and contains 5–29% formaldehyde, ethanol and water. This solution is biodegradable in time, but it cross-links proteins found in tissue-cell membranes, slowing down bacterial decomposition and inhibiting the body's breakdown in the earth. The ability of embalming fluid to contaminate soil or water tables has not been studied thoroughly. In alkaline soils, formaldehyde would be broken down through the Cannizzaro reaction and become urotropin, but not all soils are alkaline.
Formaldehyde is highly toxic to all animals, and is "known to be a human carcinogen".It is implicated in cancer, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, disorders of the nervous system, and other ailments. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the power to require embalmers to wear respirators.
Natural coffins are made from materials that readily biodegrade. Ideally, the materials are easily renewed or recycled and require less energy for their production.
Coffins (tapered-shoulder shape) and caskets (rectangular) are made from a variety of materials, most of them not biodegradable. 80–85% of the caskets sold for burial in North America in 2006 were of stamped steel. Solid wood and particle board (chipboard) coffins with hardwood veneers account for 10–15% of sales, and fiberglass and alternative materials such as woven fiber make up the rest. In Australia 85–90% of coffins are solid wood and particle board.[ citation needed ]
Most traditional caskets in the UK are made from chipboard covered in a thin veneer. Handles are usually plastic designed to look like brass. Chipboard requires glue to stick the wood particles together. Some glues that are used, such as those that contain formaldehyde, are feared to cause pollution when they are burned during cremation or when degrading in the ground.[ citation needed ] However, not all engineered wood products are produced using formaldehyde glues.
Caskets and coffins are often manufactured using exotic and even endangered species of wood, and are designed to prevent decomposition. While there are generally no restrictions on the type of coffin used, most sites encourage the use of environmentally friendly coffins made from materials like cane, bamboo, wicker or fiberboard.A weight bearing shroud is another option.
Natural burial grounds employ a variety of methods of memorialization. Families that bury their loved ones in nature preserves can record the GPS coordinates of the location where they are buried, without using physical markers.Some natural burial sites use flat wooden plaques, or a name written on a natural rock. Many families plant trees, or other native plants near the grave to provide a living memorial.
Alternatives to ground burials include: burial in a coral reef, sky burial and burial at sea.
Cremated remains are sometimes placed inside concrete coral reef balls, and ceremoniously placed in the sea as part of a reef ecosystem. These balls are used to repair damage to coral reefs, and to provide new habitat for fish and other sea life.
In some parts of Tibet and Mongolia, a person's remains are fed to vultures in a burial known as Sky burial. This is seen as being good to the environment as well as good karma in Buddhism.
Burial at sea is seen as a natural burial if done in a way that benefits the environment, and without formaldehyde. Some organizations specialize in natural burial at sea (in a shroud), allowing the body to decompose or be consumed by animals.
Each year, 22,500 cemeteries across the United States bury approximately:
When formaldehyde is used for embalming, it breaks down, and the chemicals released into the ground after burial and ensuing decomposition are inert. The problems with the use of formaldehyde and its constituent components in natural burial are the exposure of mortuary workers to itand the destruction of the decomposer microbes necessary for breakdown of the body in the soil.
Natural burial has been practiced for thousands of years, but has been interrupted in modern times by new methods such as vaults, liners, embalming, and mausoleums that mitigate the decomposition process. In the late 19th century Sir Francis Seymour Hayden proposed "earth to earth burial" in a pamphlet of the same name, as an alternative to both cremation and the slow putrefaction of encased corpses.
The Association of Natural Burial Grounds (ANBG) was established by The Natural Death Centre charity in 1994. It aims to help people to establish sites, to provide guidance to natural burial ground operators, to represent its members, and to provide a Code of Conduct for members. The NDC also publishes The Natural Death Handbook.
The first woodland burial ground in the UK was created in 1993 at Carlisle Cemetery and is called The Woodland Burial.Nearly 300 dedicated natural burial grounds have been created in the UK.
Each province and territory within Canada has its own resources and regulations for handling deathand the disposal of the body. In British Columbia, green burials are treated the same way as traditional burials, as embalming is not legally required for interment. All burials are required to follow the regulations set forth by their respective provincial government.
With growing interest in promoting eco-friendly practices, natural burials have been making rounds in various Canadian news outlets.Some debate still lies in what makes certain funeral practices eco-friendly and how cemeteries make these claims as no government-imposed standard or definition currently exist.
Eco-friendly funeral practices in Canada can include:
Canada offers a wide range of environmentally friendly services and alternatives to conventional funerary customs and corpse disposal practices in Canada. The Green Burial Councilis an environmental certification organization for green burials practiced in North America (Canada and the US). Environmental certificates are offered to cemeteries, funeral homes, and product manufacturers involved in the funeral industry. These certificates would allow consumers to distinguish between the three different levels of green burial grounds and their appropriate standards. The Green Burial Council also offers information on the types of coffins, urns, and embalming tools that would fall under the eco-friendly category and be available for North American consumers.
The Green Burial Society of Canadawas founded in 2013 with the goal to ensure standards of certification are set for green burial practices. The society emphasizes five principles of green burial: no embalming, direct earth burial, ecological restoration and conservation, communal memorialization, and the optimization of land use.
The Natural Burial Association (NBA)is an independent, non-profit organization established in 2005 to promote natural burial in Canada and to encourage the establishment of natural burial sites. The organization lists the four current natural cemetery sites on their website located in: Victoria, British Columbia, Cobourg, Ontario, Brampton, Ontario, and Pickering, Ontario.
Located in Victoria, British Columbia, the Royal Oak Burial Parkopened the Woodlands grave site for green burial space in the cemetery since October 2008, dedicating its space to burials that allow for the natural decomposition of human remains which in turn provides nutrients for the surrounding ecosystem. The area has native-growing Coastal Douglas Fir along with a variety of ecologically similar tree species, which the cemetery claims to keep as close to the natural ecosystem as possible. In order to be interred in Royal Oak Burial Park, embalming of the body is prohibited. The body must be kept in its natural state, which is then placed in some form of biodegradable container or shroud. Traditional grave markers are not used, but rather families are given options to engrave natural boulders or plants.
Found in Cobourg, Ontario, the Cobourg Union Cemeteryis located on 20 acres of land, currently containing 3,800 burial lots. The cemetery is made up of both traditional burials with headstones and regular interment practices, as well as a green space dedicated to eco-friendly burials. Consumers are given information about biodegradable caskets and procedures for a green burial. Families are not allowed to place permanent markers on the grave sites other than native species of plants such as flowers and bushes.
The Meadowvale Cemeteryoriginally opened in 1981 in Brampton, Ontario, with the green burial section of the cemetery opening in 2012. The cemetery allows for both burial and cremation as long as embalming is done without formaldehyde or other harsh chemicals. They also ensure that remains are placed into a non-toxic, biodegradable container. Graves are not allowed to be marked with traditional headstones, but they offer a granite stone at the site's entrance for name engraving.
Duffin Meadows Cemetery is located in Pickering, Ontario, and is attached to the original traditional cemetery.The cemetery offers natural burials for individuals who have been embalmed to eco-friendly standards, then interred using biodegradable shrouds and caskets. Grave sites will be left to grow over naturally, meaning grass will not be mowed and the placement of artificial flowers and other markers will not be allowed.
There are a number of different natural burial parks across Australia, each of them slightly different in what they offer. One of the more advanced park is Lake Macquarie Memorial Park, on the Central Coast of New South Wales which contains a Natural Memorial reserve,dedicated to natural Burials.
New Zealand's Natural Burial organisation was started in 1999 by Mark Blackham.It is a not-for-profit organization that advocates for natural cemeteries, promotes the concept to the public, and certifies cemeteries, funeral directors and caskets for use in participating cemeteries.
The first natural cemetery in New Zealand was established in 2008 in the capital, Wellington,as a partnership between the Wellington City Council and Natural Burials. It is the nation's biggest natural cemetery, covering approx 2 hectares, and home to 120 burials (April 2015).
More natural cemeteries have since been set up by between Natural Burials and the council authorities in New Plymouth in 2011,Otaki in 2012. and Marlborough in 2014.
Other councils have set up small natural burial zones: Marsden Valley in 2011, Motueka in 2012,and Hamilton in 2014. Although these have all based on the approach used by Natural Burials, they have not been certified by the organisation.
The Green Burial Council (GBC) is an independent, tax-exempt, nonprofit organization that aims to encourage sustainability in the interment industry and to use burial as a means of ecological restoration and landscape conservation. Founded in 2005, the GBC has been stewarded by individuals representing the environmental/conservation community, consumer organizations, academia, the deathcare industry, and such organizations and institutions as The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, AARP, and the University of Colorado. The organization established the nation's first certifiable standards for cemeteries, funeral providers, burial product manufacturers, and cremation facilities. As of 2013, there are a total of 37 burial grounds certified by the Green Burial Council in 23 states and British Columbia. A cemetery becomes certified by demonstrating compliance with stringent established standards for a given category. Ramsey Creek Preserve mentioned below is certified by the GBC. Conventional funeral providers in thirty-nine states now offer the burial package approved by the Green Burial Council.
Most of the 32-acre (130,000 m2) Fernwood Burial Ground, adjacent to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in Mill Valley, California, is set aside for natural burial, with no tombstones or caskets.
Purissima Cemetery located in Half Moon Bay, California is a natural burial cemetery located south of Half Moon Bay California Operated by Steelmantown Cemetery. Perfect for those that want to become one with the Earth. No embalming fluid. No concrete vaults. Burial shrouds, pine and wicker caskets. Preservation and enhancement of the natural surroundings. Natural stone markers. Hand dug burial sites.
Steelmantown Cemetery is the only cemetery in the State of New Jersey certified and approved by the Green Burial Council as a Level 3 Natural Burial Ground.
Foxfield Preserve, adjacent to The Wilderness Center's headquarters near Wilmot, Ohio, was the first nature preserve cemetery in the US to be operated by a nonprofit conservation organization. Naturalists from The Wilderness Center have restored this formerly agricultural land to native prairie grasses and wildflowers. A section has also been reforested in native hardwood trees.
Cedar Brook Burial Ground in Limington, Maine, the first green cemetery in Maine is located on a 150-acre tree farm thirty miles due west of Portland. Within its borders sits the rock wall-enclosed Joshua Small Cemetery, a tiny, historic graveyard whose dozen burials date back to the early 1800s.
River View Cemetery, located in Portland, Oregon, is registered with the Green Burial Council as a "hybrid" natural burial cemetery. Rather than restricting natural burials to just one specific section, River View permits natural burial in nearly every area of the cemetery, allowing those who wish to be interred in existing family plots without an outer burial container, without embalming, or even without a casket if they choose to do so.
Penn Forest Natural Burial Park is the first Natural Burial Grounds in Pennsylvania certified by the Green Burial Council. 2-1/2 acres are laid out for burial, and the other 32-1/2 acres are available for other uses: a barn for goats that clear the property of brush, hiking trails, gardens, an aquaponic pond for fish and vegetables, a blacksmith teaching shop, beehives and other sustainable projects.
Billy Campbell, a rural doctor and a pioneer of the green burial movement in the US, opened the first modern "green cemetery"[ clarification needed ] in North America at the Ramsey Creek Preserve in South Carolina in 1998. This cemetery was opened to allow for burials where bodies are not embalmed or cremated, because of concern about the negative impacts that the chemicals and processes of these funeral preparation methods may have on the environment—which is why it is considered "green."
Countryside Memorial Park located near Marion, Texas southeast of San Antonio is a natural, green burial park. All burials occur at a depth of approximately 3 to 3½ feet and have a 2-3 foot mound of earth above them. This depth ensures that the nutrient layer is raised to a higher soil stratum where microbes and oxygen can expedite the decomposition process. Each burial is covered by approximately 60 inches of soil and is undetectable to human or animal noses (with the exception of bears, which are not an issue in Texas). Countryside was incorporated as a cemetery in 1991 but several pioneers were buried on the property previously, the latest being interred in 1869. At 1 1/2 acres, thus far 300 plots have been surveyed. It is primarily a meadow, though there are some mature oak trees on the property, with plans for additional tree planting on designated plots. Cattle graze the park in season.
Eloise Woods Community Natural Burial Park, established in 2010 located in a wooded preserve near Cedar Creek, Texas southeast of Austin, Texas includes walking trails to allow the community to enjoy the beauty of the preserve. Burials are only permitted in areas that will not degrade the land. Some areas of the preserve are “off limits” whereas other areas are suitable for cremated remains. These decisions are based on what is best for the ecological restoration of the preserve.
Circle Cemetery, located at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in southwestern Wisconsin, has offered burial of cremated remains and non-embalmed bodies since 1995. It is operated by Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church.
Jewish law forbids embalming for traditional burials, which it considers to be desecration of the body. The body is ritually washed by select members of the Jewish community, wrapped in either a linen or muslin sheet, and placed in an all-wood casket. The casket must not have any metal in it, and it often has holes in the bottom to ensure that it and the cadaver rapidly decompose and return to the earth. Burial vaults are not used unless required by the cemetery. In Israel, Jews are buried without a casket, in just the shroud.[ citation needed ]
Islamic law instructs that the deceased be washed and buried with only a wrapping of white cloth to preserve dignity. The cloth is sometimes perfumed, but as in natural burial, no chemical preservatives or embalming fluid are used, nor is there a burial vault, coffin or casket. There is no legal requirements for using a coffin in the UK and a body can be buried in a cloth if desired.
Toward the end of its final season in 2005, the HBO series Six Feet Under prominently featured natural burial.
2014 documentary A Will for the Woods explores natural burial, primarily through the lens of one terminally ill North Carolina man's decision to have one.
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Cremation is a method of final disposition of a dead body through burning (combustion).
Burial or interment is a method of final disposition wherein a dead person or animal is placed into the ground, sometimes with objects. This is usually accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing the deceased and objects in it, and covering it over. A funeral is a ceremony that accompanies the final disposition. Humans have been burying their dead since shortly after the origin of the species. Burial is often seen as indicating respect for the dead. It has been used to prevent the odor of decay, to give family members closure and prevent them from witnessing the decomposition of their loved ones, and in many cultures it has been seen as a necessary step for the deceased to enter the afterlife or to give back to the cycle of life.
A coffin is a funerary box used for viewing or keeping a corpse, either for burial or cremation.
Burial at sea is the disposal of human remains in the ocean, normally from a ship or boat. It is regularly performed by navies, and is done by private citizens in many countries.
A burial vault is a container, formerly made of wood or brick but more often today made of concrete, that encloses a coffin to help prevent a grave from sinking. Wooden coffins decompose, and often the weight of earth on top of the coffin, or the passage of heavy cemetery maintenance equipment over it, can cause the casket to collapse and the soil above it to settle.
Promession is an idea of how to dispose human remains by way of freeze drying. The concept of promession was developed by Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, who derived the name from the Italian word for "promise" (promessa). She founded Promessa Organic AB in 1997 to commercially pursue her idea. The company was liquidated 2015 without being able to produce a functioning facility. The idea of promession is questioned and not a functional method according to critics.
An urn is a vase, often with a cover, with a typically narrowed neck above a rounded body and a footed pedestal. Describing a vessel as an "urn", as opposed to a vase or other terms, generally reflects its use rather than any particular shape or origin. The term is especially often used for funerary urns, vessels used in burials, either to hold the cremated ashes or as grave goods, but is used in many other contexts; in catering large vessels for serving tea or coffee are often called "tea-urns", even when they are metal cylinders of purely functional design. Large sculpted vases are often called urns, whether placed outdoors, in gardens or as architectural ornaments on buildings, or kept inside.
Disposal of human corpses, also called final disposition, is the practice and process of dealing with the remains of a deceased human being. Like most animals, when humans die, their bodies start to decompose, emitting a foul odor and attracting scavengers and decomposers. Disposal methods may need to account for the fact that soft tissues will decompose relatively rapidly, while the skeleton will remain intact for thousands of years under certain conditions.
The term Death Care Industry refers to companies and organizations that provide services related to death: funerals, cremation or burial, and memorials. This includes for example funeral homes, coffins, crematoria, cemeteries, and headstones. The death care industry within the U.S. consists mainly of small, family-owned businesses.
Fultonville Cemetery, also known as the Old Village Cemetery or the Protestant Dutch Church Burying Ground, is a cemetery in Fultonville, New York. The cemetery was originally the burying ground for the Protestant Dutch Church of Fultonville, but was transferred to the village in 1848.
The Funeral Rule, enacted by the Federal Trade Commission on April 30, 1984 and amended it effective 1994, was designed to protect consumers by requiring that they receive adequate information concerning the goods and services they may purchase from a funeral provider.
During the Pre-Hispanic period the early Filipinos had already believed in a concept of life after death. This belief in an afterlife prompted the Filipinos to create burial customs and beliefs to somehow honor the dead through rituals. Due to different cultures from different part of the Philippines, many different burial practices have also emerged from the different tribes. For example, The Manobos had to bury their dead in trees, the Ifugaos had to seat their corpse on a chari before it was brought to a cave and buried elsewhere. The present day Filipinos had retained the belief of life after death from their ancestors. Which is why it is only customary for the present day Filipino to also honor the dead through different practices. Most prominent practice of honoring the dead is by holding a wake as way for the loved ones to properly mourn the death of one that is dear to them. Most Filipino Christians hold the wake at the funeral homes but others also hold them at their own household wherein the wake would be held for three to seven days and the family members would be required to wear either black or white during the procession. Unlike their Christian brethren, Filipino Muslims are required to bury the dead 24 hours after the time of death. This custom dates back to when the spread of disease was a prominent risk, the Muslims prompted to bury the corpse as soon as possible for sanitary reasons such as avoiding the widespread disease that could come from the rotting corpse. One thing that would be common between these two systems is that both practices believe in mourning even after the burial. In the case of Filipino Muslims, the mourning period lasts 40 days, during which they are required to wear black clothing. Filipino Christians have the "waksi", or death anniversary, and mourning on the 40th day.
The Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center is a museum situated in Batac, Ilocos Norte dedicated to former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos which also hosts the cenotaph of the former President. The museum shows memorabilia of the late president, from his stint in the armed forces down to his presidency. The large cenotaph which contains the glass-encased coffin in which the widely believed embalmed body of Marcos was on public display shortly after his remains were brought in Ilocos Norte from the United States in 1993 until his body was re-interred at the Heroes' Cemetery in Taguig on November 18, 2016. A wax replica of Marcos remains to be displayed inside the glass coffin.
A home funeral is a noncommercial, family-centered response to death that involves the family and its social community in the care and preparation of the body for burial or cremation and/or in planning and carrying out related rituals or ceremonies and/or in the burial or cremation itself. A home funeral may occur entirely within the family home or not. It is differentiated from the institutional funeral by its emphasis on minimal, noninvasive care and preparation of the body, on its reliance on the family’s own social networks for assistance and support, and on the relative or total absence of commercial funeral providers in its proceedings.
A death midwife, or death doula, is a person who assists in the dying process, much like a midwife or doula does with the birthing process. It is often a community based role, aiming to help families cope with death through recognizing it as a natural and important part of life. The role can supplement and go beyond hospice. Practitioners perform a large variety of service, including but not limited to creating death plans, and providing spiritual, psychological, and social support before and just after death. Their role can also include more logistical activities, helping with services, planning funerals and memorial services, and guiding mourners in their rights and responsibilities.