Family-Led Home Funerals & Vigils
Up until as recently as 90 years ago, when a death occurred it was not uncommon for the family and community at large to personally care for their dead at home. My grandmother referred to it as “laying out the dead”. In recent times, funeral homes have come to be the professional caregiver of the deceased and the mourners. While their services are valuable, others are now asking the question, “Do we need to use a funeral home when there has been a death?” The simple answer to that question is, “No”.
There is no one right or wrong way to say goodbye, mourn, celebrate, and remember someone who has died. We can help you find your way.
In B.C., as in many other jurisdictions, families do have the option to look after all or some of the arrangements so that a cremation or burial and the service can occur. These are some of the requirements:
- The person who has the right to control the disposition must be identified so that the final disposition can occur (burial, entombment or cremation);
- When a private individual transfers the deceased from the place of death to a home and then to a cemetery or crematorium a government issued permit is required;
- Permission from the cemetery or crematorium for burial or cremation must be obtained prior to the transfer;
- All required cemetery or crematorium paperwork and forms must be filled out prior to burial or cremation;
- Registration of the death must be completed prior to the burial or cremation through Vital Statistics BC;
- A burial or cremation permit must be obtained before the final disposition;
- A suitable burial casket or cremation casket/container must be supplied;
- See also, the Consumer Protection of British Columbia (CPBC) site for more information on privately led death-care:
- Before the death occurs, choose the crematorium or cemetery you wish to use and try to go there ahead of time to familiarize yourself with the location;
- If the death is to take place at home, ensure you have all of the information from your doctor and palliative care team (ie: a Notice of Expected Death form);
- Locate and prepare as much of the legal paperwork that will be required once the death occurs (ie: the Will, birth certificate, financial documents, etc.);
- Gather vital statistic information, such as, occupation, parents names and their birthplaces, all of which is needed for the registration of death;
- Determine the area you would like to use for washing and dressing the body and then gather the supplies needed to complete this task;
- Prepare a casket/coffin or shroud and urn;
- Begin writing an obituary notice;
- Start planning the ceremony.