Home Funerals: An Old Tradition Returns

"These are people who want to take charge and be responsible for their own family members, and to lend themselves to more privacy and intimacy," she said. "Many religious and spiritual backgrounds call for this type of home wake."

According to Lyons, the home funeral greatly helps survivors with the grieving process. "There's coherence and continuity for the family. It allows more time to visit and view the body, to say prayers, and to visit in the middle of the night," she said. "It brings death back into the cycle of life."

John Wilkerson, who buried his parents on their farm in north Florida, credits active participation in the funeral with helping him after his father died.

"Going through the physical participation in that event clears little pieces of guilt," he said. "Everyone has something that they wish they had done or didn't do. Being physically involved helps undo these things and helps clear them up. Therefore, your grieving process goes much quicker."

Wilkerson has now devoted himself to other burials on a section of the family farm called Glendale Memorial Gardens. "It has become a passion for me. It's very rewarding," he said. "There's not a lot we can do anymore that's a service to humanity, but this is one."

And Love has no regrets about having a funeral at home for her friend Odom. "Some people can't deal with death," she said. "I think it's a privilege. I count myself blessed."

This article is the third of a three-part series.

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