9 Advantages of Offering Home Funerals

Home Funerals


I just finished reading a horribly boring article regarding home funerals published by Ms. Holly Stevens (a self-proclaimed funeral consumer advocate).

The article rehashed the negative feelings concerning  funeral undertakers, like Lisa Carlson has done for years (and has seemingly made a living doing so).

One new twist Ms. Steven’s took was referring to us funeral undertakers as “commercial morticians.”

I haven’t heard that one before.  Snappy title though…“Commercial Mortician.”

I immediately imagined this scene in my head:

“What do you do for a living, Todd?” 

“Why I am a commercial mortician. I make commerce from death, and do mortician commercials on TV, or something.” 

While I disagree with most of the points Ms. Stevenson made, I do value her advocacy in home funerals.

So much so, I wanted to write about the advantages of home funerals, for those funeral professionals considering them.

Here are some of the advantages that I gleaned from working on home funerals:

  1. Families can easily see all of the hard work you put into serving their family, because you’re doing it right smack dab in the middle of their home.
  2. Even if it’s crowded, it’s comfortable. Everyone feels like they’re actually at home, because – well, they are.
  3. Family and friends know where things are. They can cook, eat, take a nap, and just be themselves.
  4. It gives funeral undertakers an invaluable opportunity to bond with our clients, much different than the formal funeral home environment.
  5. The family can be surrounded by their warm memories… pictures, home movies, clothes, smells, their favorite chair, etc.  It’s all there during their celebration of life.
  6. People visiting the family can actually stay and visit because it’s much more informal than at a funeral home.
  7. Funeral undertakers are able to provide extra little things that families value so much. I remember one home funeral during the winter. My boss made my shovel the snow from the sidewalks around the family’s home; the family was so thankful.
  8. There are no hours at home funerals. People can easily sit up all night with the deceased, offering many more opportunities for private thoughts and meditation than at a formal mortuary which closes at 9 p.m.
  9. In a very real sense, all of the funeral undertakers are much more intertwined with the neighborhood and community than at the formal mortuary.  I remember being sent to an outstanding Italian restaurant while working on a home funeral.  My, oh my was that good food. And, if I wasn’t working at the family’s home I would have never found that community’s culinary treasure!


Certainly the movement back to home funerals will probably not become a national fad. However, there are rumblings about it. And these days, any rumblings concerning funerals ought to capture everyone’s attention.

How about offering an additional type of unique service – the old fashioned home funerals package – that could be put on the GPL and offered to the community?

Crazy, right?  Too far out-of-the-box, right? No, I am serious.  I think we ought to explore the possibilities.

That way, we can beat the “Ms. Stevens” of the world who clearly dislike “Commercial Morticians” to the punch.

Anyway, that’s just one old undertaker’s opinion.


Does your funeral home offer home funerals? What do you think about them? Share your thoughts!



Todd Van Beck Home FuneralsABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Todd Van Beck lives in Decatur, GA with his wife, Georgia. He received an honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service, Houston, TX, Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Ministry from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary, Cincinnati, OH, Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Mount Mercy College, Cedar Rapids, IA and Mortuary Arts and Sciences Diploma from New England Institute of Anatomy, Sanitary Science, Embalming and Funeral Directing, Boston, MA. He formerly owned the T. W. Van Beck Funeral Home & Ambulance Service, served as general manager of John B. Turner & Son Mortuary, Cedar Rapids, IA. Todd was an educator at Cincinnati College of Mortuary College of Mortuary Science, Hudson Valley College, New England Institute and Commonwealth Institute. He was the Dean of the College of Funeral Management and the College of Embalming and Restorative Art at the University of Memphis. He is a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner and a member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice, a Certified Embalmer, The British Institute of Embalmers, on the Board of Trustees, the President Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation,the author of 4 books, 400 professional articles. Todd is also a member of the Dr. Albert Schweitzer Memorial Fellowship, and the American Guild of Organists.


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  5. Cassandra Yonder

    Great article, thanks! As a home funeral guide myself I’m eager to explore the potential for collaborative overlap between our work and yours.