It's a growing trend in the funeral industry, but many don't know having a funeral at home is an option. It's legal to have a home funeral, without involving a funeral home. Many traditions, like embalming, and burying a loved one in a casket, aren't necessary.
"Returning Home" is a new non-profit organization in Colorado Springs that is working to educate the public about other funeral options. The organization's founder, Lauren Carroll, was a funeral director in Colorado Springs for years.
"Offering either burial or cremation wasn't enough for some people," she said. "I knew people wanted something different, something unique to them and their loved one that passed away."
So she explored the law, finding what she believes to be a better way: having a wake at home. Home funerals are cheaper than traditional ones, but the biggest benefit, Carroll says, is healing and closure for the living.
"When you get to sit and be with the person and watch their body change, and know that their soul or spirit, or whatever you believe in is gone, there's a healing for the person that's with them," she says.
She even believes it can help speed up the grieving process. "It can be a much more intense pain," she said. "But the time that it takes afterwards to actually heal and know that they're dead, and you know that they're in a better place."
Carroll taught the class how to prepare a body for a funeral at home, blessing each part of the deceased's body.
"With the prayer process, that that added a sacredness to it," said class participant Brandi Woolf. "That brings in a whole different kind of closure."
You don't have to die at home to have a home funeral. It could happen in a nursing home, hospital or even in an accident.
"The coroner's office legally can have the body given to the family once they've finished their investigation," Carroll said. "At the hospital, the family would sign the release, the same as a funeral home would, and the family would take the body home from the hospital."
After a home funeral, the body can be buried or cremated. The family is responsible for filing a death certificate and getting a burial permit from the county.
"With that permit, they'll go to either the cemetery or the crematory they've made arrangements with, and they'll take the body there," she said.
Depending where you live in Colorado, a body can be buried on private property with the correct permits and some restrictions. It's not very common because the state and city will always know there's a burial ground on that property, which could make it hard to sell.