Burying loved ones

  1. I ask this question in all seriousness.

    A nursing friend in Alabama told me that they recently had a hospital inservice about berevement. They said that the speaker said she had checked with everyone of importance and law in the state and that it's true... when a person dies, the family has the option of burying them at home in their backyard. The family is told to place a heavy piece of concrete or big rocks on top of the grave so animals won't dig up the dirt, etc.

    I was very surprised to hear this as was my buddy. I thought there were rules about burial vaults for coffins to fit into. I know that in low lying areas where major floods have occurred that old coffins not in vaults have come to the surface and floated away. I even thought about well water and the water table with contamination of certain body fluids.

    If anyone knows more about this I'd love to hear what you know. Do you have a relative who is buried on your property or do you know people who have done this? I suppose it's true and completely safe if the Alabama State Government agrees. After all, each state can make it's own rules on many issues. It's just the first I've heard of it and it's all very new to me... I'm just trying to wrap my brain around it.

    Again, I'm asking this question in all seriousness and in no way intend to ruffle any feathers.

    Warmly,
    Tiki
    •  
  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   elkpark
    The laws regarding burial vary from state to state. I have always heard that, despite what funeral homes want you to believe, embalming is not required by law except in the case of a few specific communicable diseases. And I talked with a friend recently who said that, when his father died, they contacted the actual crematory directly and avoided dealing with a funeral home at all. And where did the idea about "burial vaults for coffins" come from? Every burial I've ever attended, the coffin was just put in the ground (in the dirt) and the hole filled in. I believe it is the case that some low-lying or flood prone areas have special rules or laws (New Orleans and the FL Keys spring to mind immediately).

    I live in a rural part of the country and it is v. common around here to see (old) family burial plots on the family property -- just a few headstones all by themselves. I don't know if people are still being buried in those plots, but it wouldn't surprise me.
  4. by   Kyriaka
    I think it may depend on if there is a cemetary already on the property. My father's family home had a cemetery with relatives since the 1800's. If he were to die he could still be buried there since it is a family cemetary on family land.
    No one has the right to tell him he cant be buried there. In this case the "backyard" is acres.
  5. by   mrdoc2005
    I thought you had to have a cement vault to but the coffin in. There are family cemeteries around here but just as stated above the back yards are acres of land.

    I have a older friend who when his father past they did not enbalming him. Said it was a religious thing, but I do know that he was in a vault and the vaults have a seal I think.
  6. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from Tiki_Torch
    I was very surprised to hear this as was my buddy. I thought there were rules about burial vaults for coffins to fit into. I know that in low lying areas where major floods have occurred that old coffins not in vaults have come to the surface and floated away. I even thought about well water and the water table with contamination of certain body fluids.
    Tiki
    The laws vary from state to state, and community to community.

    However, in most places embalming is not required, a vault is not required and use of a funeral home is not required. And as use these things are inappropriate to several major religions, there would be some fur flying if they were required by law.

    Judaic law/tradition prohibits embalming, and unless required by law for court case prohibits autopsy. If autopsy is required, a rabbi oversees the procedure and ensures that at the completion, all body parts and blood are returned so that all parts are buried and as little desecration of the body is done as is necessary. The body is buried before the sun sets on it a second time, preferably in a plain white shroud, no jewelry - no open casket viewing, no vault and sometimes no casket (if required, all parts must be biodegradable, contain metal and have no fancy adornment). There is no headstone for the first year. Most rituals are performed by the synagogue funeral group, not a secular funeral business.

    Many of these laws are also true of Moslems.

    A few years go, near Atlanta, a group of locals were protesting the possible placement of an Islamic burial ground near them...a major point of contention was the lack of vaults/coffins and worry about groudwater contamination. The findings though, pointed out that the contamination from embalmed bodies (with Formaldehyde, embalming chemicals, varnishes from fancy coffins, etc.) was much greater than the traditional burying of a non- embalmed body buried in a plain white cloth. The pathogens from a dead body are more compatible with the soil that all the chemicals. Will a dead body's pathogens (which are normal to human systems) harm you more than toxic poisons and chemicals used in embalming?

    As far as bodies washing up, with an "all natural" burial, the body will biodegrade rapidly and there will be little to wash up except a few bones. However, mother nature can wreak havoc with coffins/vaults and have some partially decomposed chemical laden rotting body arise after a flood, earthquake or hurricane.

    A recent expose' on funeral practices demonstrate that even embalmed bodies frequently deteriorate to chemical slime in coffins/vaults and seep out into the soil within a short period of time. So why go to the expense?

    And many funeral groups have shoddy practices. Just use the phrase "Tristate" in North GA, Southern Tennessee or western North Carolina.
  7. by   bluesky
    [QUOTE=caroladybelle] Will a dead body's pathogens (which are normal to human systems) harm you more than toxic poisons and chemicals used in embalming?

    QUOTE]

    Well if the person died of some horrible infectious disease, then heck yeah!
  8. by   elkpark
    [QUOTE]
    Quote from caroladybelle
    Will a dead body's pathogens (which are normal to human systems) harm you more than toxic poisons and chemicals used in embalming?

    QUOTE]

    Well if the person died of some horrible infectious disease, then heck yeah!
    This is why state laws DO require embalming in the case of a few specific infectious diseases ...
  9. by   caroladybelle
    [QUOTE=bluesky]
    Quote from caroladybelle
    Will a dead body's pathogens (which are normal to human systems) harm you more than toxic poisons and chemicals used in embalming?

    QUOTE]

    Well if the person died of some horrible infectious disease, then heck yeah!
    And what makes you think that embalming will get rid of those pathogens???

    As they do not "sterilize" the body when they embalm, many pathogens remain. As proof, all one has to do is see the forensics office disinter a body that has been buried for a few weeks, and note how extensive the decomposition is. And if there is decomposition, there are going to be pathogens.

    In many cases, embalming just provides toxic chemicals and pathogens, instead of just pathogens.
  10. by   traumaRUs
    Yikes - don't tell my husband or he'll be digging the hole now. Seriously - in Illinois they do not require embalming if burial takes place in 24 hours. Also - it is not a law that there is a cement vault either in Illinois. In fact, both of my parents, in 1986 and 2002 were actually buried in extremely cheap $148 each cloth covered cardboard boxes which was per their request.
  11. by   Tiki_Torch
    Thank you all for your responses! I have sooo much to learn about this subject. I love learning things and this web site keeps me on my toes!

    Thank you all again!!!
  12. by   Katnip
    I plan to just be cremated. Saves space, time, and money. My ashes can be scattered then back to the seas or the earth. Totally biodegradable.
  13. by   barefootlady
    Many funeral practices we see today have only been in existance since the civil war. I do not think most states require embalming if burial is done within 24 hours and there is no infectious disease. Many states only require only an acre of land to be set aside for a family cemetary. It is not a requirement that it be fenced but only marked as such. Vaults are not required. Coffins are required but can be a box of any type. It is probably just a matter of common sense that people be reminded to cover a grave with heavy stone or concrete. Wild animals do exist close to towns .
  14. by   suzanne4
    Michigan requires the cement vaults that the caskets have to be put into, even for Jewish funerals.

close