"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."
~ Native American Proverb ~
What is a Home Funeral or Natural Burial exactly?
Home funerals are simply funerals held in a home setting; either the deceased’s home or the home of a family member or friend, instead of one at a funeral home or church. The body is typically not embalmed, instead, dry ice might be used to keep the body cold until burial or cremation takes place. Many religious and spiritual backgrounds call for this type of home visitation and funeral. There’s coherence and continuity for the family, and it allows more time to visit and view the body, to say prayers, and to visit at all hours of the day and night. It brings death back into the cycle of life. What could be more personal? It signifies the family’s desire to be actively involved in celebrating the life of a family member who has died.
A Natural Burial is one where the body is placed into a grave, often without an outside covering like a casket or a vault. Natural or "Green" Burials ensure the burial site remains as natural as possible in all respects. Burial of the body may also be done in a bio-degradable casket, shroud, or a favorite blanket. No embalming chemicals are used, neither are concrete vaults or outer burial containers.
Home Funerals and Natural or "Green" Burials are not actually a 'new' trend as many in the news media have been referring to them as. In reality, they are a return to the fundamental basics of family involvement in the necessary care provided for a deceased family member. In some areas, the availability of natural burial assistance may be limited for now; however, progress is slowly being made as there is gradually more acceptance of this method of care.
Here at the Cournoyer Funeral Home and Cremation Center, we are continuously striving to improve our ability to assist families with any request. From formaldehyde-free embalming to Green Burial Council approved caskets and urns, we remain the leaders in providing you with more environmentally sound choices. Please feel free to visit us and see all of the options available to you.
Why Families may choose a Home Funeral and/or Natural Burial?
The family remains completely in charge: Family members can be directly involved in every aspect of the remembrance, visitations, and ceremonies for the individual who has died.
They allow more flexible times: A home funeral provides more flexible times for visiting, ceremonies, and closure.
They foster the spirit of community: When a funeral is held at home, it honors relationships in a comfortable, private and de-institutionalized setting.
They honor a rite of passage: A home funeral acknowledges and encourages participation in the natural birth and death cycle; children especially benefit from this open acceptance of death as part of life
They help promotes healing and closure: A home funeral provides a safe, loving and appropriate place where one can express grief and loss; the body lying in-honor allows family members to let go of the deceased in a gentler and less fragmented way.
They may be financially tailored to individual needs: In some cases, cost is a factor for those involved in a home funeral as it is certainly less expensive than a funeral at a funeral home or church. However, much like what has been learned about cremation over the last few decades, this is not usually a choice based on cost. There are, instead, psychological and sociological reasons for these choices. There’s a tremendous increase in healing and acceptance of death for the family to touch and see and be with the deceased. It’s very empowering at a time when people often feel like everything else is out of their control.
Are you considering a Home Funeral or Natural Burial?
We strongly recommend thoroughly researching your options and learning about the process long before the actual time of need.
A wonderful source of guidance is 'Crossings: Caring for our own at death'.
Beth Knox shares her incredibly moving personal experience though the assistance she provides families across the United States who desire the simplicity a home funeral offers.
While having a funeral director refer someone away from their funeral home may be something quite unexpected to some, it goes along strongly with our belief and faith in what Beth is teaching. We will always encourage each and every family to participate in a funeral in whatever manner or level they are comfortable with. We are more than willing to share with you the experience we have gained through the years of assisting families at their time of need, in order to make a home funeral all that you want it to be. Whether it be with guidance, assistance with New Hampshires electronic filing of death certificates, or just simple suggestions of how to do something a little easier, we will be here to help you.
In New Hampshire
If you are seriously considering a Home Funeral or Natural Burial, here are a few of the most pertinent laws in New Hampshire which involve death, burial, and cremation.
290:1 Death Records. – Whenever a person shall die, the physician attending at the last sickness shall complete and deliver to the funeral director, next-of-kin as defined in RSA 290:16, IV, or designated agent under RSA 290:17 or shall complete electronically and forward immediately to the division of vital records administration, a death record, duly signed, setting forth, as far as may be, the facts required by the department of state, division of vital records administration pursuant to RSA 5-C:63. The cause or causes of death shall be printed or typed on all records required to be furnished under this section. The funeral director, next-of-kin, or designated agent shall transmit electronically the record of death to the division of vital records administration.
290:3 Burial Permits, Obtaining. – It shall be the duty of the funeral director, next-of-kin as defined in RSA 290:16, IV, or designated agent under RSA 290:17 to add to the death record the date and place of burial, and having certified the same by hand or other approved electronic process, to forward it to the division of vital records administration or as otherwise directed by the registrar of vital records, and to obtain a permit for burial from the division of vital records administration in accordance with RSA 5-C:67. In case of a contagious or infectious disease the record shall be completed and transmitted immediately.
290:5 Burial Permit Required. – No interment of the dead body of a human being, nor disposition of the body in a tomb or vault, shall be made without a permit, and only in accordance with it.
290:11 Release; Transfer of Body; Liability Limited. –
I. No dead body of a human being may be released or transferred from any residence, hospital, or other facility to any person other than a funeral director or designee, or to the next-of-kin as defined in RSA 290:16, IV, or designated agent under RSA 290:17 who shall be responsible for the completion of forms as required by RSA 290:12.
II. The body of any deceased person may be transferred to another town for preparation or for burial or cremation only under the direction of a funeral director, next-of-kin, or designated agent; provided that death was not sudden, or the result of violence, and provided that such body shall be returned to the town in which death occurred within 36 hours, or a permit for permanent removal, as required by this chapter, has been secured within that time.
III. Any person or institution releasing a body pursuant to this chapter shall be held harmless against and shall not be liable for, any harm, loss, cost, injury, damage, or claim of any kind whatsoever incurred by any party in connection with the release of the body.
290:12 By Whom. – Such transfer shall be made under the direction of a funeral director, next-of-kin as defined in RSA 290:16, IV, or designated agent under RSA 290:17, and the funeral director, funeral director's representative, next-of-kin, or designated agent shall leave with the institution from which or the person from whom such body is received, on forms supplied by the department of health and human services, the name of the funeral director, next-of-kin, or designated agent, the name of the person making the transfer, such person's address, the funeral director's license number or the address of the next-of-kin, or designated agent, and the date and hour such body was delivered.
290:14 Penalty. – Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of RSA 290 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
290:16 Definitions. – In this subdivision:
I. "At-need funeral arrangements" means funeral arrangements made after death.
II. "Custody and control" means the right to make all decisions, consistent with applicable laws, regarding the handling of a dead body, including but not limited to possession, at-need funeral arrangements, final disposition, and disinterment.
III. "Estranged" means living in separate residences and having a relationship characterized by hostility or indifference.
IV. "Next-of-kin" means a person having the following relationship to the subject, in the following order of priority:
(a) The spouse.
(b) An adult son or daughter.
(c) A parent.
(d) An adult brother or sister.
(e) An adult grandchild.
(f) An adult niece or nephew who is the child of a brother or sister.
(g) A maternal grandparent.
(h) A paternal grandparent.
(i) An adult aunt or uncle.
(j) An adult first cousin.
(k) Any other adult relative in descending order of blood relationship.
V. "Subject" means the person whose remains are placed in the custody and control of another person pursuant to this section.
290:17 Custody and Control Generally. – The custody and control of the remains of deceased residents of this state are governed by the following provisions:
I. If the subject has designated a person to have custody and control in a written and signed document, custody and control belong to that person. The person designated by the subject shall be entitled to no compensation or reimbursement of expenses related to the custody and control of the subject's body.
I-a. If the subject has designated a person on a United States Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data (DD Form 93), custody and control belong to that person if the decedent died while serving in the United States armed forces and executed the DD Form 93, or its successor form.
II. If the subject has not left a written signed document designating a person to have custody and control, or if the person designated by the subject refuses custody and control, custody and control belong to the next of kin.
III. If the next of kin is 2 or more persons with the same relationship to the subject, the majority of the next of kin have custody and control. If the next of kin cannot, by majority vote, make a decision regarding the subject's remains, the court shall make the decision upon petition under RSA 290:19, IV.
IV. If the next of kin or person designated by the subject under paragraph I is missing and cannot be located using reasonable efforts, the missing person shall lose custody and control and custody and control shall pass to the next in order of priority.
V. If the next of kin holding custody and control will not cooperate with the funeral director in making arrangements, the next of kin shall lose custody and control after 3 days of noncooperation and custody and control shall pass to the next in order of priority.
VI. If the individual holding custody and control of the subject is arrested for criminally causing the death of the subject, custody and control shall pass to the next in order of priority.
VII. If no person is designated by the subject to have custody and control and no next of kin can be located using reasonable efforts, the funeral director holding custody of the body shall retain custody and control of the body for purposes of carrying out the disposition of the body.
VIII. A funeral director acting in good faith may rely upon representations made by individuals claiming to have custody and control of the subject.
325-A:3 Cremations. – The body of any deceased person may be disposed of by incineration or cremation in this state or may be removed from the state for such purpose. Any person, firm or corporation within the state, with the approval of the commissioner of the department of health and human services, may establish and maintain suitable buildings and appliances for the cremation of dead human bodies and, subject to the regulations of the said department, may cremate such bodies and dispose of the ashes of the same, provided that they do not interfere with public health laws and regulations. If death occurred in this state, the certificate of death required by law shall be filed with the town clerk or the city clerk of the town or city in which such person died. The body of a deceased person shall not be cremated within 48 hours after his decease unless he died of a contagious or infectious disease, and, if the death occurred within the state, the body shall not be received or cremated by any person or firm authorized to cremate the bodies of the dead until such person or firm has received the certificate of burial permit required by law before burial, and a certificate from a medical examiner or deputy medical examiner that he has viewed the body and made personal inquiry into the cause and manner of death, and is of the opinion that no further examination or judicial inquiry concerning the same is necessary. For said certificate, the medical examiner shall receive a fee of $60, payable by the person requesting the same. If the death occurs without the state, the reception and cremation of the body of a deceased person shall be governed by regulations made or approved by the commissioner of the department of health and human services.
325-A:4 Containers. – No dead body shall be removed, transported or shipped to any crematory unless encased in a suitable solid container made for such purpose. Such container shall be incinerated with the dead human body.
325:40-a Deceased Human Bodies Exposed. – No dead human body shall be exposed to the public for a period in excess of 24 hours unless said body is properly embalmed.
289:3 Location. – All cemeteries and burial grounds shall be laid out in accordance with the following requirements:
I. No cemetery shall be laid out within 100 feet of any dwelling house, schoolhouse or school lot, store or other place of business without the consent of the owner of the same, nor within 50 feet of a known source of water or the right of way of any classification of state highway. Existing cemeteries which are not in compliance with the above set-back requirements may be enlarged, provided that no portion of the enlargement is located any closer to the above-listed buildings, water sources or highways than the existing cemetery, and provided further that no such enlargement shall be located within 50 feet of any classification of state highway.
II. Burials on private property, not in an established burial ground, shall comply with local zoning regulations. In the absence of such regulations, such burial sites shall comply with the requirements in paragraph I. The location of the burial site shall be recorded in the deed to the property upon transfer of the property to another person.
III. New construction, excavation, or building in the area of a known burial site or within the boundaries of an established burial ground or cemetery shall comply with local zoning regulations concerning burial sites, burial grounds or cemeteries, whether or not such burial site or burial ground was properly recorded in the deed to the property. In the absence of such regulations, no new construction, excavation, or building shall be conducted within 25 feet of a known burial site or within 25 feet of the boundaries of an established burial ground or cemetery, whether or not such burial site or burial ground was properly recorded in the deed to the property, except when such construction, excavation, or building is necessary for the construction of an essential service, as approved by the governing body of a municipality in concurrence with the cemetery trustees, or in the case of a state highway, by the commissioner of the department of transportation in concurrence with the cemetery trustees.
Please call us at our office at 603-532-6484 to discuss your specific arrangement needs or to have your questions answered today.
We can only hope that the small extra steps we make now, will make all the difference in the world in the future. Consider Batesville’s Living Memorial tree planting program...a simple concept that has grown from its inception in 1976 to become a major contributor to reforestation with more than 11 million trees planted as a lasting memorial to loved ones.
With every Batesville casket, urn or cremation container purchased here, we complete memorial paperwork in order for Batesville and the various government agencies to arrange for a tree seedling to be planted in selected woodlands throughout the world. This program is more than just a fitting tribute, this program provides for trees that shelter our wildlife, reduce water and wind erosion, and contribute to the purity of the air we breathe. It’s a way to honor your loved one with a lasting memorial while also trying to help the environment.
It is our hope that the Living Memorial program helps ensure that future generations will know the beauty of a green planet. In keeping with your personal values and beliefs, home funerals and green burials may be appropriate for you, your family, and even your pets.