Oregon Senator Seeks At-Home Burial Regulations

According to a recent news article, a state lawmaker in Oregon wants to set some ground rules for at-home funerals. Oregon’s Mortuary and Cemetery Board is receiving more calls from people who cannot afford a traditional funeral and who are seeking a less expensive way to deal with a family death. Some families may opt for cremation, which still remains less expensive than a traditional funeral. Others, however, are asking about at-home funerals.

Democratic Senator Vicki Walker from Eugene, Oregon stated, “I did not know you could bury grandma in the backyard, which really alarmed me.” Therefore, Walker now is sponsoring a bill that would require home burials be on private property and to notify the state and whomever purchases the home in the future that someone is buried on the property.

Additionally, the bill requires that all death care consultants pass an exam and be licensed to operate. This is a portion of the bill that the Mortuary and Cemetery Board supports. Traditional funeral practitioners and embalmers must be licensed by the state, but death doulas or death midwives are not licensed in Oregon.

Oregon is home to at least five green burial companies, one undersea memorial business and definitely is silent [PDF] on the matter of private property burials. That last link also states that “State law places no specific restriction on the burial or scattering of processed cremated remains.” Despite the lax law regarding private home burials, the responsible funeral service practitioner (FSP) or “person acting as an FSP” must comply with ORS 432.307 to 432.333 pertaining to Death Certificates and Burial Permits.

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