What services do you require?
In the field(s) of dying and death, in home death care is becoming more mainstream. When making end of life decisions, dying at home is preferred by most. Palliative home care and home hospice care are available. Death doula services are also available. So, it makes sense to many to continue the process into death care services. What are some of the benefits and what designs can be worked into a home funeral?
- a meaningful location
- a cost that is in keeping with family finances
- an atmosphere for healing conversations and ceremony
- a time for personal and private goodbyes
- food and beverage of your own choice and taste
In Alberta, a home funeral can be held whether an individual passes away at home, or when the place of death is a facility. It can be held with the deceased remaining at home. It is also acceptable to have a home funeral after disposition (cremation or burial) has taken place.
The logistics of keeping a loved one home after death do not need to be overly complicated. It is an alternative planning process that comes together quite quickly. The support of death doula services along with the funeral provider can enable your family to trust and grieve through this natural process.
For a planned home death, the term vigil is used to identify the period of time just before death occurs. It may be a few hours. It could be a few days. It is a time of waiting and watching, often surrounded by music and meditation. Death is not always orderly and predictable. If you have been caregiving for some time, you've probably experienced disarray and disorder. It is a time kind of suspended in time. Palliative, home care and/or hospice supports are available.
When the deceased remains home for a period of time after death occurs, the preparing of the body and home freshening assists in keeping us busy. The duration for remaining home will depend on several factors. A practical timeline would be 24-48 hours. Again, professional supports will facilitate the process. Embalming is not a legally required procedure in Alberta.
If death takes place in a care facility, the loved one can also be returned home for the funeral.
Preparation and home freshening can include;
- washing, dressing and placement of deceased. In times gone by, deceased were laid out in the living room. A bedroom is appropriate as well.
- freshening of the home is simply a tidying up, perhaps the use of essential oils and flowers. It is the setting for where visitors can be received.
The term wake is appropriate here, as it reflects the time period before the deceased leaves the home. A home funeral can now be what is meaningful for the deceased, the family, friends and community. You can invite as many or as few as is seen appropriate.
A home funeral ceremony can follow a wake, at a prescribed time. Readings, ritual, prayer, music, song, story, art, nature – these are all elements of our cultural life and death commemorations. This time period formally acknowledges that death has occurred and life has changed.
When food and beverages are shared after the formalities, relationships can be mended, stories validated, and new memories and meaning (has been) made. Cultural food, comfort food, junk food, catered or potluck, in a home setting, the type of food and drinks served are completely of your own choosing. After this time together, the family will be quite prepared to release their loved one for final disposition – burial or cremation.
It should be noted here that for a home funeral to take place, the deceased doesn’t have to be present, in body. It is appropriate for immediate cremation or immediate burial to take place before hosting a home funeral.