Yes, New York, it is legal to have a funeral in your home.
Trained as a home funeral guide by Jerrigrace Lyons and Olivia Bareham, our funeral director Amy Cunningham is a proud member of the National Home Funeral Alliance, a group that is reviving the old-fashioned home-based wake which helps families embrace death-–be it sudden or expected–- and gives them the freedom to grieve more deeply and authentically in the place they're most comfortable. Especially effective and simple when death occurs at home in the care of hospice and end-of-life doulas, the house or apartment can become a meaning-infused venue, the most natural of all funeral chapels, a place where liminal time and space can be experienced, even savored, by family and close friends. Home funerals can last from thirty minutes to two days with the help of dry ice to keep the body cool. Such vigils tend to be intimate, slower paced, and highly participatory--with family members bathing and dressing the deceased if they're up for that, staying on to witness, connect, play music and exchange family stories in the warmth of candle light. Grieving is endowed a natural rhythm in the setting of a residence. Most celebrants and clergy members commend the courage of families who hold services like these. At the conclusion of any home funeral, our firm is on hand to accompany the decedent to Green-Wood's crematory in Brooklyn, or a cemetery of the family's choosing.
Please take the time to watch this educational video on the heart-centered work of the National Home Funeral Alliance. You may wish to look at videos of home funerals orchestrated by death midwife Olive Bareham in Los Angeles, which include one family's explanation of why a home funeral worked well for them. Here's another video by home funeral guide Donna Belk, helpful to anyone considering participating in the care of a loved one at home after death occurs. Listen to the story of a Cape Code family's home funeral for an elderly mom by clicking here. Lastly, here's a mother's story about how a home funeral helped her grieve.
HERE'S the trailer to a documentary about home funerals called "In the Parlor," which we feel is
the best film about family-centered, alternative deathcare ever made.