One of the things we never like to think about and is a very tough topic to discuss is death. However, death is inevitable. It will happen and you need a plan in place for normal circumstances. When SHTF happens though, you really need a plan in place.
First of all, you need to be up to date on your state laws and codes. You also need to look into county, township, and city codes on burials. Many states also have rules on who can handle the body, where the body can be placed, and who can bury the body. Many states require that someone files a death certificate within three days of the death or discovery of the death.
In Iowa, you do not have to use a funeral director. You can keep the body at home. You only need to embalm the body if the deceased had a communicable disease or will not be buried within three days. However, if the body is being held in refrigeration, you can wait six days without embalming. There are no laws requiring a casket for burial or cremation, but the cemetery or crematorium may have their own rules about caskets. You can bury the body in cemetery or private property as long as local zoning laws permit it. If you do bury on private property, keep a detailed map of the burial for future property owners.
I found two excellent resources about this here:
Iowa Home Funeral Laws
Burial & Cremation Laws In Iowa
They cover other states as well.
I understand that during a SHTF, these laws may not apply. However, during most disasters, state laws will still prevail and still need to be followed. Only during a collapse of the government or WROL will you need not really worry about the laws.
How you plan to deal with the death in your own family or people in your group? You will need to address a few things:
- Where will the body be buried?
- Will the body be cremated?
- How will the hole for the burial be dug?
- How will you cremate the body?
- Do you need to purchase a body bag, coffin, and/or embalming kit for your preps?
- Who will handle the body?
- Who will make the arrangements and file the death certificate?
- Who will be in charge of making sure the living wills and wills are kept safe and are honored?
There are very few right and wrong answers here. I would ask the family members over 16 what their wishes are for their death and keep a record of their responses. Parents can decide for their minor children. Knowing everyone's wishes will make answering those questions easier. I would designate 1-2 people to handle the body, make the arrangements, and file the death certificate. If you have a person already designated for handling important papers, I would put them in charge of the wills also. This person or you should have a copy of all important papers.
Whether you have an SHTF or not, I thoroughly believe you need a will and a living will. You will solve a lot of complications with those two documents. If you have any wishes for your funeral or your death, that needs to be wrote down so it can be honored if possible. A living will is very important because you can include end of life decisions like palliative care and a Do Not Resuscitate order. As with all important legal documents, if it is not done by a lawyer, you need to get it signed and notarized to be considered in court.
If you are planning to bury on the property or create a private cemetary, I would get that spot established now. As suggested before, you should make a detailed map where people are buried or where they will be buried. I would pick a spot that will be easy to dig, but not obvious to everyone who may enter the property for whatever reason.
Another thing to consider also is what to do with the bodies in the winter. If you live in a fairly climate with no frost in the ground during the winter, this will not really affect you. However, in the Midwest, this will be a problem unless winter is being kind to us. I would pick a sealed spot away from the home that animals cannot get into. You want the body to stay cold and frozen if possible. Then, as soon as the ground permits, bury the body.
One of the last things you need to consider when someone dies is who is going to fulfill their role. Who will take care of their things, their pets and/or animals, and possibly their family? If they had a specific role in your prepping group, do you have a replacement for that person? I believe in having back up plans, but sometimes you can not plan for everything.
This is a morbid topic and some very morbid things need to be considered when death happens. Like I said before, this is a prepping and life topic that needs to be addressed. You may not want to think about it, but keeping your head in the sand isn't going to help when a SHTF happens!
Thanks for reading,