COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus woman is helping families who care for a dying person, and may be thinking about claiming the body to take home, wash, shroud, and bury in a simple casket.
“The pandemic has forced us all to think about death,” said Donna Baker, founder of Columbus Community Deathcare, which helps people to plan death and burial.
Death isn’t just a medical event, Baker said. It’s physical, spiritual and social.
“We try to minimize all of the machines and equipment. That’s not to say that pain relief isn’t incredibly important. But the room that you’re in at the end can really be much more like the rooms that you’re in when you’re alive,” she said.
Baker said the average viewing and funeral is $9,000, without the cost of a headstone and even the burial plot. But there are other options, for instance, woven willow coffins that are made in Ohio.
“You can have a person buried by shrouding them in a linen shroud, a sheet. You can bury them in the ground in a cardboard box that you can purchase for a hundred dollars. You can make your own casket out of pine for a few hundred dollars, and you can bring the focus back on the person, bring the meaning back to dying instead of spending our time trying to generate funds to do things in a conventional way that really no longer serves us, or the planet.”
A few months ago, one of Baker’s clients opted for a home burial in Athens. This is legal in Ohio under certain conditions, Baker said. For example, the grave should be 50 feet away from a water source, the person cannot have died with a bacterial infection, and the burial must be outside of Franklin County. Paperwork needs to be filed with the state.
Families can even bring the body home themselves.
“The forms that you need to be able to do that legally are essentially the death certificate and a set of forms that the State of Ohio provides for free online.”
The forms are available on Columbus Community Deathcare website.