Death and DIY-filter! My dad, who is older but is not quite elderly or in dire straits with regards to his health, has always expressed a wish to be buried in as natural a way as possible. Think '1920s home burial with family dug grave' instead of 'put me in a biodegradable box made from reclaimed, waste wood fiber next to fifi the cat in a manicured cemetery' and you'll have the gist of what he's thinking. What are the ins and outs of making this happen? Look inside for specifics regarding our family situation/location/skillset...
The recent post
on the front page got me to thinking about this and I figured I'd go ahead and make an askme that I'd been kinda dreading.
It's sad that some of the best information I could find during a casual search came from a realestate value article
on MSN. I also found a copy of the 2010 Alabama Public Health laws
that seem to be useful. Statues that look relevant:
Title 22, Chapter 19, Section 1: Transportation, which refers to the State Board of Health Rules/Vital Statistics
420-7-1-.13 which refers to ALA CODE § 22-9A-16
(which I don't understand at all).
I'll do more looking of course, and I've been down this research road before but don't remember my dad/family making any definite arrangements, so here we are again.
Of course, I've read through the various and amazing askme responses by mefi's own coldchef on the issue and still have some questions on this, sadly way too enigmatic, situation. His previous responses regarding DIY casket building
, body abandonment
*shiver*, body (or parts) donation
, and skull retainment
are all great, but not quite what I'm looking for.
It also bears mentioning that I appreciate coldchef and do not in any way view him as one of the predatory funeral directors mentioned in the front page post. He's one of the reasons I feel good asking this sort of oddly private, very delicate thing here actually, so I hope this isn't too 'paging coldchef'-ish but, well it kinda is. Anyway, he has said before
that he is not affiliated with SCI, so I'll end the coldchef-fest here and hopefully all that wasn't too stalkery... now to my details.
Location: Alabama, rural, plenty of suitable acreage, there is a waterway near some of it but getting up to a 1/4 mile away or more shouldn't pose a problem.
Skillsets: Personal access to medium-heavy farm equipment up to and including large tractors, roll back trucks, and a small backhoe is possible. We are also no strangers to shovels, mattocks, or posthole diggers. Building a simple casket, of the oft mentioned 'rough pine box' model, is well within our means as well. No cabinetry skills per se but plenty of tool/carpentry experience as well as clean-dry-place storage in a barn. I'd actually love to help out with this and spend some time ruminating with dad as we built the damn thing. Long discussions ya'know?
Finances: Not bottomless, despite the things mentioned above most of that equipment is older, family owned/maintained, and mom and dad aren't great with their finances and... well... I'll leave it at that. Let's just say a massive legal battle isn't in the cards, nor is chartering any jets to transport remains rush to the homeplace.
Squick-factor: Low to Medium personally, with no idea about the rest of the family. While I'm sure emotions will run high, from what I've heard from dad regarding previous home burials that he remembers, the process of digging the grave and preparing the body was cathartic. However his will, if it works out, be the exception to the norm of a funeral home/cemetery burial in his generation. More on this below.
Known complications: 1) Dad now lives about 250 miles from the family farm where the interment would, ideally, occur. Zero state lines to be crossed however. 2) Time limits from moment of death to interment are exacerbated by 1) above.
Unknown complications: Unknown, *insert legalese here*.
So, I guess what I'm asking about is two part, with most of the emphasis on the first item (for now at least)...
Question 1: What do we need to do on the legal end of things before, during, and after death? Or how can we find these things out and become confident enough to stand up and be heard when *insert doctor, administrator, official here* comes up and says "You can't do what the law says you can do because I've never dealt with it before". Time and nerves will be short and dealing with something like that, at that time and place will be far from ideal. If the answer is lawyer, that's fine I suppose as long as we aren't diving deep into the rabbit hole of never-ending expenses/retainers. We'll need to do a lawyer trip anyway if just to do a casual end of life document/wishes check.
Question 2: What concerns will we have to watch out for on the practical side of things? This ranges from squick factor things like icing the body to legal concerns regarding the grave location. I don't really know what I don't know here but if there's a guide/book out there that covers this topic well I'll gladly pick it up.
Thanks, heading out for a walk now, will respond to questions for clarifications as needed. Please, and I doubt this will be an issue, but no lectures on how the funeral industry really is great/not great or how the "old way of doing things leads to plague" or whatever, I'm really not interested in that as I'm going to assume it's not an issue when the state regs are followed, which is what I want to do to avoid an extra grief when the time comes.