home death and funeral care: a timeless undertaking
It is a deep passion of mine to share information, to witness people attune to their own desires, and to become aware of the various choices available to them. It is a joy to be a hands-on guide, in the process. There is no absolutely right or wrong path for managing our health or our illness; no absolutely right way to die, or to be cared for after our death. These life choices are as individual as those who are making them - they are never one-size fits all. Yet, at arguably the most important time in our lives to make unique, personal, and thoughtful plans, we have become accustomed to a quite impersonal undertaking of our death and after-death care.
The American standard of contracting a professional mortuary service for after-death care has become so entrenched in the mainstream mind as policy, that it is generally misunderstood as legally mandated. While licensed funeral directors know the rights of individuals to choose another way, quite often medical, law enforcement, and administrative personnel (all of whom you may deal with during or after a death) remain seriously misinformed, often requiring strong advocacy to circumnavigate non-existent rules. The entrenchment runs deep.
There are three choices for after-death care: a) professional mortuary services, b) family and community-assisted care, c) an integration of the two. The integrative model, also true of health care, will often make the most sense. I offer my services as a home funeral and natural burial guide - a doula for living and dying. I offer private consultations and am available to speak to small groups, and in public forums. I work with people early on, establishing lasting relationships that may span a wide space from wellness into illness, and then into death.
I can also be called upon, at later stages to assist the dying person and family at the time of transition, and to assist the family with bathing, dressing, and appropriately preparing the body for home viewing and visitation, or for direct cremation, or natural burial. It is a legal and time-honored tradition, in North and South Carolina (and in the majority of US states) to care for the dying at home, to care for their body at home after death, to transport the body (in most situations and with the appropriate permit), and to to bury it (on your own land or in a memorial garden). Again, incorporating professional mortuary services into the home funeral plan, is always possible, and was done that way for many years, as well. What you can expect from me are very reasonable fees as a consultant, guide, and minister, and a respectful, compassionate, knowledgeable, comforting, and capable presence to walk with you and your family on this final journey with your dying loved one.
A very frequently asked question is "what about embalming?" Embalming a body does not stop body decomposition, it temporarily slows it down. Nor does a sealed casket, or a concrete burial vault. Simple refrigeration, while not offering the same life-like (?) appearance of embalming, is similarly effective, and offered by many mortuarys at about 15% of the cost. Nothing short of mummification of the body, as performed on royalty in ancient times, will stop the natural life cycle of birth, death, and regeneration. Yet, it carries that misunderstanding, one which the funeral industry has been less than enthusiastic to clearly debunk , for the past hundred years or so. There is no federal law requiring embalming a body. No states require it either, although three require it for crossing state lines (Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey). Some funeral homes enforce a strict company policy of requiring embalming for public viewing and visitation, but many will work with you, based on your individual needs. Especially if no viewing is desired, a direct cremation, without services will save between $700-$1000, and one with mortuary and church services, up to $2000. Embalming does not protect the public health. Actually there's a long laundry list of ways that it endangers the public health, as well as the health of the licensed embalmers who perform this work.
If you are interested in finding out more, please contact me about my services and fees, and about local upcoming educational forums. I look forward to hearing from you.