Undertaking LA

Undertaking LA is an alternative funeral service in Los Angeles.

“It is when the shallow life doesn’t work that it is questioned and that there occurs a call to fundamentals.”

-Abraham Maslow

The principle behind Undertaking LA is placing the dying person and their family back in control of the dying process, the death itself, and the subsequent care of the dead body. It attempts realize the ideas of deathcare self-reliance promoted by The Order of the Good Death and its members.

Why would you want to learn to take care of your own dead? Aren’t there professionals for that?

Body laid out and waked in the parlor of the home. America, 19th century.

Body laid out and waked in the parlor of the home. America, 19th century.

Death & dying happened in the home for hundreds of years of American history.  In the 20th century, the rise of the medical and funeral industries have taken dying and the dead body behind closed doors to be handled by “professionals.”

Mortuary anthropologists Metcalf & Huntington describe how:

“The majority of deaths now occur in hospitals where the fiction of probable recovery is often maintained until the person is near the point of death.  The corpse is then promptly removed without the aid of the bereaved, who will see it again only under very special circumstances, after it has been primped up to appear as if asleep.”

It is no longer true that “the grave [is] as familiar as the cradle.”  When society divorces itself from the realities of death, what was once public & familiar is now hidden & unfamiliar.

Aren’t dead bodies dangerous?

Japanese family washes a corpse for burial. ca. 1880-1899

Japanese family washes a corpse for burial. ca. 1880-1899

They are not.

From our friends at the Funeral Consumers Alliance.

… there are no studies showing a public health threat from unembalmed bodies.

It’s important to remember that this is not a matter of opinion, but of facts. “He said, she said” stories are not appropriate. We often see articles that read like this:

“John Q. funeral director says embalming helps prevent the spread of disease, but consumer advocates say this isn’t so.”

This is not an accurate way to present the issue. It’s not just that consumer advocates “say it isn’t so”; the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the Pan-American Health Organization have all published data backing up our position.

What is the structure of the service?

Modern return to the practice of caring for the unembalmed body, free from "professional" intervention.

Modern return to the practice of caring for the unembalmed body, free from “professional” intervention.

Undertaking LA is a licensed funeral home, fully inspected by the State of California. But, hopefully much of what we do will be different than funeral homes you may have dealt with in the past. All our services and prices can be found online, available here.  If you are in the LA area and have any questions, please email us at undertakingla (at) gmail.com