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We’ve Never Regretted a Private Burial

Mother Earth News
December 2011/January 2012

Have you ever looked at a special place and thought, “I’d like to be buried there”? Such a simple wish may not be so simple to fulfill.”

We had not anticipated Frederick dying. We had not expected to plan a funeral. I told the [mortician] plainly that I was galled that we couldn’t have a moment to ourselves free from advertising, and that I couldn’t bury my father-in-law without going through the funeral industry. Suddenly, I wondered aloud about burying Frederick’s remains on my property in central Colorado.

After I hung up the phone [with the mortician], the hospital staffer asked whether I had “made arrangements” with the funeral home. The staffer supported the mortician’s claims, telling me, “People just don’t go out and bury the dead anymore.”

“No,” I corrected her. “People in America don’t bury the dead anymore. But that is exactly what millions of other people all around the world do. They bury their dead on their own land, as they have since the dawn of time, without having to go through an industry to do it – and that is what I intend to do.” Thus began my quest to bury my father-in-law on my own property.

Read the full article at Mother Earth News

[Note from Josh Slocum, FCA Exec. Director—Unfortunately the family who wrote this article got a load of misinformation from their funeral director, which they unwittingly passed on:

“The funeral home wouldn’t (and couldn’t) simply remove the body from the hospital and ship it. Its own legal requirements meant the staff had to embalm, clean and dress the body and put it in  a casket (which we bought from them for convenience).”

JOSH: The funeral home lied. Illinois law does not require embalming under any circumstances. Nor does it require a casket. Again, under *no* circumstances are these things required. And there is no such thing as a funeral home’s “own legal requirements.”

” We also had them fly the remains to Colorado for us. Transporting a body by commercial carrier also triggers regulations. Commercial airlines require that bodies be embalmed, placed in leak-proof containers and be transported as freight.”

JOSH: Again, this is not true. No airline that I know of requires embalming. How do I know this? Experience at FCA and a recent article in one of the trade journals that rounded up all the airline policies. None of them included embalming.

People at potlucks look at me astonished when I tell them I work full-time combating fraud in the funeral industry. They have a hard time believing there’s that much to be done. But yet here we are, almost 30 years after the passage of federal regulations barring funeral homes from lying to customers about fake laws, and I still routinely hear it. It makes me angry, and it keeps me fighting. I hope it makes you angry too. Those of you who are funeral directors on this list—any time you can speak up against this behavior when your colleagues engage in it you’ll get a little halo from me!]

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