Home burials were commonplace until the 1860’s, according to the home funeral alliance. Death and grieving are often a highly personalized experience and before the 1860s the common practice was for a family to prepare the deceased body of their loved one and to bury the body in a church or farmyard.
The service itself was held in the family home.
Home Burials Can Help Families Grieve
In 2013, Elizabeth Knox the founder of Crossings, a Maryland based home funeral company, told the Huffington Post that home funerals can, “be the first step to healing and acceptance of death.” It forces people to become intimate with the process as the family handles the body’s care, the casket, and saying goodbye to the deceased.
In 2009, The New York Times reported that home funerals were becoming increasingly more popular. One woman who buried her father at his family home in New Jersey told the New York Times that a home buried seemed like the dignified, “natural, loving way to do things.”
By having the body buried at home the family has a way to visit the site of their loved one. And hold their own memorial.
Home Burials Can Save Families Money
Home burials and funerals are also significantly less expensive than handling the body at a funeral home. The average cost of a traditional funeral is $7,360 according to a Choice Mutual report on funeral services.
Among those fees are memorial services, embalming and body preparation, a hearse, and casket. For a funeral plot and headstone, the price goes up to $2,000. Home burial, even devoid of a home funeral, becomes a practical way for families to lessen the financial burdens associated with death.
Does My State Allow Home Burial?
Most states allow you to bury your loved one on your property but there are zoning regulations and certifications to consider. All but 13 states have no laws forbidding home burials – 8 states allow home burials but require the use of a licensed funeral director for at least part of the burial process, and 5 states require that bodies be buried in an established cemetery. See below to see the 3 states requiring a licensed funeral director and a cemetery burial.
No matter your state, check with the local zoning laws of your municipality before burying someone at home or holding a home funeral.
- New Jersey
- New York
Cemetery Burial Only
How To Apply For A Special Permit For A Home Burial
If you live in a state that requires burials to be done at established cemeteries, you may still be able to bury your loved one on your property by establishing a family cemetery. You may do this by checking the zoning laws of your municipality, contacting your health department and registering with the graveyard with your local family clerk before burial.
For more information about specific burial regulations in your state go to Nolo.com, a legal encyclopedia.
What Happens If My Family Moves?
A home burial site may not be ideal if you’re still on your starter home. Depending on your geographic location and the age of your estate it may make selling your property difficult. A New York Times article from 2010 interviewed various real estate agents in the North East about their experiences selling homes with burial grounds. Some home buyers appreciated the link to the estate’s history while others were creeped out.
Then what happens when the property you buried Grandma on no longer belongs to you? Generally speaking, the land that your loved one was buried on still belongs to you after you move. According to the same New York Times article, to zone for a burial ground, the deed of your property will make the burial grounds existence known and will restrict the burial ground itself from new ownership.
It is, however, possible for new owners to move the burial plot with permission from the family or through a lengthy legal process.
It is also possible to move your loved one to a different site, however, all of the deceased heirs must be in agreement about the move and you’ll want to consider the state of the casket and grave liner before the move. For more information check out this article by wikihow on how to move a gravesite.