▪ Body Donation / Organ & Tissue Donation
▪ Caskets & Urns
▪ County Funeral/Burial Assistance
▪ Death Care Industry Trade Associations
▪ Funeral Consumer Complaints
▪ Funeral Consumer Resources
▪ Green / Natural Burial
▪ Green Cemeteries
▪ Green Cremation (Alkaline Hydrolysis)
▪ Health Care Directives
▪ Home Funerals
▪ Legal Rights
▪ Veterans Assistance
PLEASE NOTE: All links open in a new window. There are a host of organizations and businesses - non-profit and for-profit - that promote and/or sell various after-death services and merchandise. Our list of resources is far from exhaustive. We reserve the right to include or not include a particular organization or business. A listing does not necessarily represent an endorsement of an organization or business by Funeral Consumers Alliance of Minnesota. If you know of an organization or business you think would add value to our list, please contact us.
Body Donation / Organ & Tissue Donation
LifeSource Organ and Tissue Donation of St. Paul is the federally-designated organization that manages organ and tissue donation in our region (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin).
You may register online to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor at Donate Life Minnesota, a website managed by LifeSource.
The Mayo Clinic anatomical bequest program in Rochester MN accepts whole-body donations. You may request an information packet using the online form at their website.
The U of M Anatomy Bequest Program accepts whole-body donations. At their website you'll find extensive information about requirements for donation and donor suitability, as well as an Anatomy Bequest Program Donation Form.
Caskets & Urns
NOTE: A funeral home may not refuse, or charge a handling fee for, a casket or urn purchased elsewhere.
A Simple Pine Box in New York Mills MN offers hand-crafted caskets in pine, oak and ash, as well as cremation containers. Prices are not posted on the website. A Simple Pine Box also sells a do-it-yourself Pine casket kit for $699. The kit in Western Red Cedar sells for $899.
Final Footprint Since 1994, Jane Hillhouse has been passionately working to "green" the funeral industry. She is a distributor of an English company's line of natural caskets hand-crafted out of bamboo, seagrass, rattan, and banana leaf. In 2010, Jane developed her own line of environmentally-friendly caskets, coffins and cremation urns. Contact Jane via her website for price information.
Natural Burial Company Imports, markets and distributes natural burial products such as biodegradable caskets and ash burial urns, and promotes natural burial as a viable alternative for environmentally minded folks.
Nature's Casket in Colorado offers simple yet elegant eco-caskets made from lodgepole pine tress killed in the pine beetle epidemic. Prices start at $610 for a small (5'8" length) rectangular casket. Urns start at $75. Their most affordable casket is a 6-piece unassembled pine casket starting at $425. They ship throughout the lower 48 states.
Northwoods Casket Company in Wisconsin sells a "Simple Pine Box" for $999 assembled; $399 unassembled.
They also craft a Natural Burial Trundle & Shroud which sells for $899.
Trappist Caskets The Trappist monks of New Melleray Abbey near Dubuque, Iowa sell handmade wood caskets and urns directly to individuals and families at wholesale prices. They use wood (Pine, Oak, Walnut) harvested from their 1,100 acre forest. Casket prices start at $1,000 for their Simple Rectangular Casket in Pine. Urn prices start at $225. Trappist Caskets frequently donates or discounts child caskets to families. See their website for more information.
Quiet Waters Casket Company in Garfield MN near Alexandria offers a Simple Pine Box for $325. A hand-crafted "cremation box" (for cremated remains) sells for $160. They will soon offer a Build-It-Yourself Kit for people who would like to build a casket themselves.
County Funeral/Burial Assistance
NOTE: All Minnesota counties provide some form of funeral and/or burial assistance. To find out more, contact your county health department and ask for information about county burial or funeral financial assistance.
Hennepin County Burial Assistance Program can assist with final expenses when families don't have the resources to do so themselves. Hennepin County workers will help you assess your eligibility for burial and other expenses. There are requirements and limitations:
Applications must be submitted within 14 days of the date of death; the county will not reimburse payments already made.
All assets must be applied to the county maximum payment of $2,600. Additional upgrades to services and purchases can be made as long as they total $1,400 or less. Total costs of burial or cremation must not exceed $4,000.
Click HERE to access:
▪ Release of Information Form
▪ Burial Assistance Application
▪ Burial Assistance Policy
Ramsey County Burial Assistance can help with burial or cremation expenses. Applications must be submitted within 14 days of the date of death. The county will not reimburse payments already made.
Ramsey County workers will help you assess your eligibility for burial and other expenses.
No web access to policy or application form.
Burial Assistance Program: 651-706-2946
Burial funds for veterans: 651-255-2545
Death Care Industry Trade Associations
Cremation Assn. of North America (CANA) is an International trade organization of over 1,500 members, composed of cremationists, funeral directors, funeral home owners, cemeterians, industry suppliers and consultants. "CANA members believe that cremation is preparation for memorialization."
Minnesota Funeral Directors Assn. (MFDA) is the state resource dedicated to supporting members' growth professionally, ethically and operationally. The MFDA mission is to enhance and support funeral service excellence through programs, legislative representation and service to Minnesotans.
National Funeral Directors Assn. (NFDA) is the world's leading funeral service association, serving 19,000 individual members who represent more than 10,200 funeral homes in the U.S. and internationally. NFDA’s enforceable Code of Professional Conduct outlines various ethical and professional practices to which NFDA member funeral homes must adhere. The self-driven set of standards raises the bar for funeral directors by ensuring the highest quality professional practices of NFDA members and allows the public the ability to file a complaint. Consumers can call NFDA at any time with questions about the Code of Professional Conduct at 1-800-228-6332.
National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association (NFDMA) is the world's largest and oldest national association of African American funeral directors, morticians and embalmers dedicated to promoting the common professional and business interests of its members.
Funeral Consumer Complaints
Complaints about funeral homes, funeral directors, and crematories, contact:
Minnesota Department of Health
Mortuary Science Section
P.O. Box 64882
St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0882
(855) 663-3078 Toll Free
The Mortuary Science Complaints Forms are HERE.
Complaints about Cemeteries, contact:
The Office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson
To file a cemetery complaint with the Attorney General's office, you have two options:
1. Call the Attorney General's Office
(800) 657-3787 Toll Free
and describe your complaint. You will probably be asked to fill out a Consumer Assistance Request Form.
2. Skip the phone call, and fill out a Consumer Assistance Request Form HERE.
You can fill out the form online, but you must print it out, sign it, and mail it to the Attorney General's Office. The instructions give you all the info you need to complete the form. Someone from the AG's office will contact you.
Funeral Consumer Resources
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) See Rights, Rules, Laws page.
Funeral Consumers Alliance, FCA of Minnesota's "mother ship," was begun in 1963 to give grieving families a voice in a transaction we’ll all face, but that few of us want to plan for. FCA helped the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enact the first federal regulations protecting funeral consumers (the “Funeral Rule”). The FCA federation of 80 local nonprofits helps Americans find reasonably priced funerals, burials and cremations, as well as by helping resolve consumer complaints.
Minnesota Dept. of Health - Mortuary Science Section is responsible for licensing funeral homes, crematories, morticians, and funeral directors. Its mission is to protect the overall health, safety, and welfare of the general public and those involved in the care and disposition of the dead through licensing, regulation, education, and enforcement. The Mortuary Section regulations are set forth in Minnesota Statutes 149A. Choices: on the regulations and requirements of the final disposition of a dead human body in Minnesota is a free downloadable manual (pdf) made available to the public by the Mortuary Science Section.
The Order of the Good Death is a group of funeral industry professionals, academics, and artists exploring ways to prepare a death phobic culture for inevitable mortality. Founded in 2011 by Caitlin Doughty, a Los Angeles mortician, the Order advocates accepting that “death itself is natural, but the death anxiety and terror of modern culture are not.” The Order's website showcases people and ideas at the forefront of the revolution in the way we handle death.
Health Care Directives
The Conversation Project, founded by journalist and former columnist Ellen Goodman, is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end of life care. A free downloadable "Starter Kit" is designed to help you get your thoughts together before starting one of the most important conversations you can have with your loved ones.
Honoring Choices Minnesota is an effort of the Twin Cities Medical Society to encourage families and communities to have discussions regarding end-of-life care choices. Twin Cities Public Television is supporting Honoring Choices Minnesota with efforts to reach and engage Minnesota citizens in this effort.
OK To Die is a website by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD and Kristian Murphy, tied to their book of the same title. The mission of It's Okay to Die is "to create conditions in which people: plan ahead, make their peace, understand that it is OK to die naturally, and make educated choices which allow them to die peacefully and comfortably surrounded by those who love them most." A number of valuable tools are available for free on the website.
Beyond Hospice is an 88-hour online course that leads to a certificate as a Midwife to the Dying (or Death Midwife), and Home Funeral Guide.
Choices: on the regulations and requirements of the final disposition of a dead human body in Minnesota is a free downloadable manual (pdf) made available to the public by the Mortuary Science Section of the Minnesota Department of Health. The manual covers legal and practical information on the final disposition of a body and is a valuable resource for anyone wishing to direct a home funeral.
Crossings: Caring for Our Own at Death is the website of Beth Knox, a home funeral guide. Crossings is a home funeral and green burial resource center offering workshops which provide an in depth education on all issues pertaining to home funerals and green burials — letting families know that they are THE decision-makers in after-death care and can exercise choices.
Final Passages is dedicated to a compassionate and dignified alternative to current funeral practices. Under the direction of Jerrigrace Lyons, founder, Final Passages offers educational materials, consultations, presentations, referrals and seminars that prepare and support individuals and the community to carry out a home or family-directed funeral.
Home Funeral Directory is an online resource maintained by Donna Belk and Sandy Booth of Austin TX. Rather than being a voice of only one organization, this site seeks to include information from many organizations into one easy-to-visit source.
Jewish Funerals, Burial and Mourning (in Hebrew, Kavod v'Nichum) encourages and assists the organization of bereavement committees and Chevra Kadisha groups in synagogues and communities so they can perform Jewish funeral, burial, and mourning mitzvot; protect and shield bereaved families from exploitation; and provide information, education and technical assistance.
Minnesota Threshold Network is "A Meeting Place For All Who Are Interested in Death, Home Funerals, and Green Burials." The collective wisdom of participants makes the Network the premier resource in Minnesota for family-directed after-death care and natural burial. Volunteer members of Minnesota Threshold Network are available to provide education or support before a natural death or at the time of death.
National Home Funeral Association (NHFA) acts as a clearinghouse of all things home funeral, providing connections and resource information to all who are looking for guidance. A resource-rich website.
Natural Transitions provides education on conscious, holistic, and green approaches to end of life, including family-directed home-based after-death care also known as “home funerals.” Natural Transitions Magazine is the only magazine on conscious, holistic approaches to end of life, for end-of-life caregiver, or anyone seeking greater understanding of the journey to end-of-life. Most issues are available free online.
Passing Through Our Own Hands is a 66.5 minute documentary style video you can watch on Vimeo showing how families can care for their own loved ones when they die at home.
Undertaken With Love offers a free pdf download of their 40-page home funeral guide, Undertaken with Love: A Home Funeral Guide for Congregations and Communities. An excellent free resource.
Willwerscheid's Natural Burial & Cremation is the only funeral firm in the Twin Cities area offering natural burial services, including a package which offers the assistance of a licensed funeral director for a family wishing a service and viewing at home. Their list of Green Burial Packages can be found here. Willwerscheid's also sells a number of green burial/cremation products such as biodegradable caskets.
Green / Natural Burial
A Greener Funeral is a website created in 2010 to educate the general public about leaving a lighter footprint on this earth by selecting a greener funeral. Their brochure, A Greener Funeral: A guide to creating a farewell that’s more meaningful for you, those you love and the planet, provides an excellent overview of green after death issues as well as background information that places these issues in a cultural perspective.
Green Burial Council (GBC) is an independent, tax-exempt, nonprofit organization working to encourage environmentally sustainable death care and the use of burial as a means of protecting natural areas. Through a mix of evangelism, economic incentives, and solid science, GBC's mostly volunteer organization has become the standard-bearer of the green burial movement.
Green Cemeteries - Green / Natural Burial
Mound Cemetery is Minnesota’s first hybrid green burial ground certified by the Green Burial Council. Located in Brooklyn Center MN. 952-935-0954.
Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Gardens is Minnesota’s first natural burial ground located in Inver Grove Heights. Prairie Oaks is featured in the February 2014 Natural Awakenings Magazine with a graphic illustrating the main differences between a conventional burial and a green burial. 651-300-9549.
Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville MN "allows" natural burial. The only website information about natural burial is on the FAQs page under the question:
Q. With a traditional casket burial, do I have to use a burial vault? Is it required by law?
A. Minnesota state law does not require a vault or outer burial container. A vault is used to prevent the ground from collapsing around a grave. Recently Roselawn Cemetery has decided to allow natural burials on new and existing lots without a concrete vault, however no embalming fluid will be allowed and caskets must be of bio-degradable material. An additional fee will be added to the interment fee to cover future maintenance costs.
Green Cremation (Alkaline Hydrolysis)
Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services is the only funeral firm in Minnesota offering Green Cremation at their Celebration of Life Center in Stillwater.
Choices: on the regulations and requirements of the final disposition of a dead human body in Minnesota is a free downloadable manual (pdf) made available to the public by the Mortuary Science Section of the Minnesota Department of Health.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC), established in 1914 as a government agency to investigate and eliminate unfair and deceptive business practices, the FTC enacted the Funeral Rule in 1984 and amended it in 1994. The Funeral Rule was designed to protect consumers by requiring that they receive accurate information concerning the goods and services they may purchase from a funeral provider. All funeral providers must comply with the Funeral Rule, which specifies various consumer rights, as well as specific parameters within which funeral industry providers must conduct their business. See Rights, Rules, Laws page.
Minnesota Statutes 149A: Mortuary Science; Disposition of Dead Bodies regulates the removal, preparation, transportation, arrangements for disposition, and final disposition of dead human bodies for purposes of public health and protection of the public.
National Cemetery Administration. VA burial and memorial benefits. Burial benefits available include a gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
Burial benefits are available for spouses and dependents as well.