Celebrating Life

Death is not a subject that one wants to discuss on a blog primarily committed to writing about achieving good health but a “friend” on Facebook “shared” an interesting video this weekend and it caught my attention. It also made me wonder how many people know about “After Death Home Care” and green burial. You may not find it uplifting but dealing with the end of life is just as important as preparing for the beginning of life, or as Merilynne Rush says in the video “Birth is as safe as life gets; Death is as real as life gets.” I say let us live our lives in a healthy and aware state and when we die let us leave only a barely discernible footprint.

When my father died and then 10 years later, in 2009 my mother died I felt I had been given a lifetime gift to be able to be with them as they drew their last breath, to give them one final kiss and tell them I loved them as they slipped away. It was a form of closure that most people never get the honor of experiencing. My parents were both in nursing homes when they died, so the last I ever saw of them was in their respective rooms, totally at peace, but not in their familiar environs. Within hours someone I never met and did not previously know picked them up and whisked them away for cremation. You have little choice in a nursing home setting (although I should look in to that as well). However, if a person can stay at home and perhaps have hospice care or even just be cared for by their children or spouse things can be quite different.

The idea of  “after death home care” is not new, it is a rebirth of the way things used to be before the Civil War. During that time embalming began to allow the dead to be returned to their families and be viewed before burial. Until that time the dead were cared for at home. The bodies were washed, dressed and generally prepared for friends and family to stop by and pay their respect for the dead. After the Civil War, according to Merilynne Rush embalming and funerals away from home became a status symbol, a sign of wealth. If you couldn’t have a body embalmed and a proper funeral it was only because you were destitute.

I now know why we went down this path but it doesn’t mean I have to like it or accept it. I have never liked funerals whether in a church or a funeral home. I hate looking at an embalmed body and I detest words spoken from a mouth that never even shared a cup of coffee or a bit of a natter with the dead. I have made it clear to my family that I do not want a funeral. I don’t want tears shed I want a celebration of my life with laughter and joy. Cremation seemed the logical answer. Cremation and then a big celebration with good wholesome food and a glass of wine. Having spent sometime this weekend pondering  after death home care I ponder no more. This rebirth of the old ways answers that burning question of how to celebrate my life when my time on earth is through. If it also allows me to leave a small footprint all the better. Celebrate my life, wrap me in a shroud, bury me in a landscape that is sustainable and plant a tree at my site to grow and represent all I was and will ever be.

I am not being morbid dear reader, I am simply presenting you with other ways to make the final journey. I am hopefully opening a channel of communication, so you needn’t fear discussing the end of life anymore than you discuss the birth of a baby.

If you would like more information on the subject of after death home care Merilynne Rush was very helpful and full of information. Since I am a resident in the great state of Minnesota she provided me with some people in Minnesota who can be contacted for further information. There is a phone number but no name for a person in Minneapolis who can help you (612-729-6817). Merilynne Rush is in Michigan, so much of the YouTube video pertains to Michigan but it is worth spending 18 minutes of your day to gather information. If you are in states other than the two I have mentioned Google the subject “after death home care” and there are resources there for people who will help you with caring for the dead at home and also cemeteries that support green burials.

Next week I promise to get back on the subject of your health and how to manage it but if I initiate even one conversation on the subject of  “after death home care” I have achieved my goal for this week.

To your good health,

Kris

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Truly I would love you to go on…..I will write down the books you mentioned and get them on my reading list. I really did get it because it was in the back of my mind all along. I just didn’t know the legalities of doing things in a more normal way. I am still a young person (I think anyway) but once you have watched people die you realize even the young die and we need to know how we want the end to be. Hopefully by publishing my blog entry more people will discover this honorable way to end the journey.
    Thank you for your compassion and for producing the video it will spread your message beautifully.

    Reply

  2. Thanks for this wonderful article, Kris. You really got it!
    Do you know the book “My Mother, Your Mother” by Dennis McCullough? (Embracing Slow Medicine, the compassionate approach to caring for your aging loved ones) I bet you would really love it, and so would your readers. It does a great job outlining the health issues and creating care circles for elders, with clear stages and resources. Also, “Your Health, Your Choice: Becoming Empowered to Participate in Your Own Health Care,” by Hernan Drobny. It includes a section on the benefits of taking your time and being involved in care when someone has died, as well as great suggestions for empowered health decision-making. I could go on…

    Reply

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