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THE NATION

Death in the family

With money tight, many people are holding funerals -- even burials -- at home. 'Death midwives' help with papers and other details.

December 26, 2008|Cynthia Dizikes

But the family ran into problems finding a crematorium to do the work.

"The medical examiner said that we would have to go out of the county," Grefsrud said. "He said no one was going to cooperate with us."

So the family drove his body 100 miles -- in a pine casket in the back of a pickup -- to a facility that agreed to cremate it for about $800.

Basler acknowledged "a home funeral isn't for everybody: It involves a lot of hands-on, and there are some folks who feel uncomfortable with that."

Last month, just before Thanksgiving, Elizabeth Sky Nogotona, 61, invited Lyons to her house in Santa Rosa to discuss with her children and elderly father the possibility of an at-home funeral. Nogotona knew that she would not be able to afford a standard funeral for her father or her mother, who is in a nursing home. But she was willing to do whatever they thought was right.

After a discussion, the family decided on at-home funerals followed by cremation.

"It's less expensive," said her father, Michael J. Borge, "and more personal."

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cynthia.dizikes@latimes.com

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