Important facts about home death care and vigils

The reasons for caring for our own after they have passed:

We can be in charge, and make the decisions that are right for our family (within legal limits). It allows more time for close family and friends to have a safe and known environment to say goodbye.. This promotes closure, and can shift the grief process. It allows for both planned and spontaneous rituals and ceremony, which also aid in closure.

. It honors this very special time of crossing without the wrenching disconnection.

Major Principles:

  1. In Minnesota the family can have the body of their beloved for up to 72 hours after death without embalming. The family can choose to have the body in their home during this time if they wish.
  2. In order to do this, the family will need to connect with one of the institutions that is working with families in this manner. One organization is the Cremation Society, located on Nicollet Ave. in Mpls. That institution will take care of transport, paperwork, cremation or burial.
  3. Different possibilities according to where the person passes on. :
  4. Hospital, Hospital Hospice, or Nursing Home: Families can take time with their beloved after death. Institutions are allowing the time the family wishes before the body is transported from the care facility. The family may care to sit with the one who has passed, wash and dress the body, have special ceremony of goodbye, can ask to accompany the body to the home or funeral home.
  5. Home: Family can choose to take time, as above, and care for body, and then accompany body to funeral home. Family can choose to have the body at home. Home Vigil If family chooses a home vigil without embalming, this is a private event with notication by word of mouth. Any publicly announced event requires embalming.
  6. Cremation: Families can choose to be with their beloved for this final step of the journey. They can request this of their chosen institution

(Taken from the Brochure of Portages group – see resources)
* It is legal in Minnesota (and most states) to care for your own loved ones at the time of death
* Embalming is not required for up to three days (72 hrs.) after death
* During those three days, a loved one may lie in honor at your home or your place of worship
* Simple measures, easily performed by a family member, can preserve the appearance and sanitary condition of the body.
* A vigil can be held in the home if it is not a public event, and is attended by family and friends by word of mouth. If viewing is a public event, the body must be embalmed. A memorial service can be held publicly afterwards.
* Families can construct, or have constructed, their own coffins, or, in case of cremation, use a cardboard cremation container.
* A family member (or legally assigned agent) can act in lieu of a funeral director and perform any of the following functions: filing paperwork, transportation, preparing body for a vigil, purchasing a coffin, arranging for cremation or burial.