Removing Outmoded Restrictions on Home Funerals

At the October 26th meeting of the Minnesota Threshold Network, we spent most of our time strategizing on how to improve Minnesota state laws governing home funerals.

Our major concern is that Minnesota is the only state in the nation that requires  embalming for public viewing [149A.91 Subd. 3]. This means that families cannot legally hold a vigil for a deceased loved one (without embalming) in their own home with anyone other than immediate family members present. There is no scientific basis for such a requirement, and this statue should be removed to give families more choices at the end of life.

 Other concerns:

 1. SF 802 puts new limits on who may care for the dead, hampering a family’s choices. Now, only the person with the right to control disposition may transport a body, for example, not another family member, church committee, or unpaid designee. [149A.01 Subd. 3 (c)]

 2. MN law maintains a provision for hospitals and other institutions to refuse to release a body directly to a family that might wish to care for their own dead, requiring the use of a funeral director instead. [149A.01 Subd. 3 (e)]

 3. MN law now bans family members from the preparation room in a funeral home. [149A.91 Subd. 2]

The home funeral/green burial movement is gaining momentum nationally, as evidenced by feature stories in the March 2009 issue of Smithsonian magazine and in the October 2009 AAPR Bulletin. A July 2009 front page story in the New York Times (and in the Star Tribune) on home funerals quotes Minnesota Threshold Network member Nancy Manahan and mentions Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully.  She also was featured in a WCCO TV News story on green burials last fall.  There is no reason for a state as progressive as Minnesota to be so far behind the curve and have such outdated and unnecessary regulations.

The group drew up preliminary plans to identify friendly legislators and to set up meetings with them.

We did not set a date for the next meeting. When we do so, it will be posted here as well as sent out to all members via email.

We welcome anyone who has the time and energy to help change these unnecessarily strict laws!

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