Minnesota - 2009, Caring for Your Own Dead

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1/12/2009 - A misguided bill in 2007 significantly restricted the rights of families and religious groups to care for their own dead without the involvement of a commercial funeral home. Green burial activist Theresa Purcell, founder of the Natural Burial Project in Minnesota, is bringing together concerned people who want to return those rights to ordinary citizens. If you want to help with the effort, email her at theresakay [at] gmail.com. She's getting ready for a meeting with sympathetic lawmakers, so now's the time to contact her. You can also email us at FCA at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.

Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Funeral Ethics Organization wrote a joint letter to Minnesota lawmakers asking for revisions to the law. Here's what we're asking for:

1. Return families' rights to work together to prepare, transport, and dispose of the bodies of their dead.

2. Require hospitals to release deceased bodies promptly to family members with the legal right under state law to control disposition.

3. Eliminate the ridiculous requirement that bodies on public display be embalmed. Minnesota is the only state in the nation with this requirement.

4. Eliminate the irrational requirement that all vehicles used to transport bodies keep the casket in the same cab as the driver. This is a backdoor way of ensuring that only hearses - not the family truck, for example - can be used to transport bodies. This is inappropriate and unenforceable.

5. Reverse the prohibition on family members being present in the embalming room. While few families want to be there, the next of kin should have the right to supervise the preparation of their dead. For some, it may be an emotionally necessary final act.




Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 January 2009 23:49 )  
Comments (5)
1 Friday, 30 January 2009 18:47
Donavon Dilworth
While I am in concert with writer on most points, I cannot agree with number 5.

As a funeral director and embalmer for many years what has happened to funeral service is that it has become highly regulated by various agencies. For example you do not only have to comply with your various State regulations, but also OHSA the
Bloodborne Pathogen Rules, etc.

Unfortuntley, none of these are codified and many are at variance with each other and with liability exposure a concern - most, if not all, have decided to exercise caution to limit risk. Your insurance carrier will "encourage" you to practice risk
management whenever and where ever possible in your operation.

Just as an example - OSHA requires fitted personal protection equipment and education in the hazards of the preparation room and the various and sundry chemicals employed therein.

Whenever family members can safely be involved in the care of the deceased,
dressing, hair styling, cosmetic application and encasing of the remains, they should not be discouraged.

I think most funeral professionals will strive for a balance in service and exposure and hopefully as the public becomes more educated there will be greater understanding of the whys, hows and wherefores of what we do. In like manner
we as funeral service professionals will and are becoming more intune with what
our clients need, want and expect of us.
2 Monday, 08 June 2009 11:26
Eric Marquardt
Hi, my name is Eric Marquardt, I work with a company called The Green Casket Company. We offer caskets that are green friendly and would be used in
cemetaries like yours. If you have any questions please email me or call me at 608 219 0380.


Eric Marquardt
3 Monday, 15 February 2010 15:24
David Gansen
Funeral services have become outrageously expensive. There should no reason a body cannot be taken to a burial place in the back of a pickup truck and just dumped into a hole located in a commentary.
GREED is the only reason this cannot be done.
4 Monday, 12 September 2011 20:17
Larry Spears
Is there an existing analysis of what is permitted and not in Minnesota law? For example, is there a prohibition against a family transporting a body to family land and burying it? Is there a green cemetery in northern Minnesota? could yo send me a copy of the statutory analysis?

Thanks for good work,

Larry at spears1@aol.com
5 Monday, 05 December 2011 16:23
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