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Home Funerals and Vigils

Life has to end, love doesn't

- Mitch Albom

In modern times, we have become conditioned to think that, when someone dies, we need to call someone (usually the funeral director) to come and take that person away.

Unless we then arrange to visit them in the funeral home, we may never see our loved one again.

I really do believe that this can cause trauma to those closest to the person who has died, leaving them intensely bereft and perhaps even lead to complications in their grief.

But it does not have to be this way and, increasingly, families are reclaiming their right to keep their loved one at home when they die, either for a short time or until the funeral takes place.

This may seem strange, or even morbid, to some but it is actually not a new concept.  Not that long ago, families were completely responsible for the care and preparation of loved ones’ bodies after death.

As the Home Funeral Network says,

It was considered an ancient art, an honour, an act of respect and compassion and a very natural part of life.

And I believe that this time-honoured way of caring for our loved ones after death can be incredibly comforting and beneficial to the grieving process.

By continuing to care for the person at home, you can begin to process your loss whilst maintaining your connection to that person.  Being able to see, touch and speak to the person who has died, and perhaps even feeling their presence, can be so powerful and healing.

When we die, natural changes do take place in our bodies but this process often occurs much more slowly than people think and, with the right care, a person’s body usually only shows subtle changes in the first hours and days after death.  Being present to see these changes can actually help you begin to acknowledge and accept your loved one’s death.

There are factors, such as certain medications and surrounding temperature, which can affect the rate in which the body changes and, in some cases, it is not advisable to keep a person’s body at home but I can advise on these.

If you feel that you would like your loved one to stay at home for a period of time when they die, I will do my best to facilitate this.

It may be fear of the unknown which stands in the way of more families keeping their loved one at home but I can provide the practical advice and emotional support to enable you to do this.

During their time at home, I can help you to create a beautiful space for your loved one to rest in, perhaps placing flowers or candles or playing music in the room. 

I can also help you care for the person, gently washing and dressing them, or you may just choose to sit with them, allowing others to visit and spend time also.

This can be helpful for all concerned and bring friends and family together, allowing you to support each other in your loss.

And I will be completely responsive to your needs and wishes so if, at any stage, you feel that you have had the time you need, I can arrange for your loved one to be brought in to care, where I will continue to look after them gently and lovingly.   You can still then choose to visit them up until the funeral, should you wish.

It can be immensely comforting to know where and how your loved one is cared for when they die and, as always, I am happy to discuss the option of having a home funeral or holding a vigil if you feel you would like to do this


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