reclaiming our rite of passage
In Australia and around the world, we're moving back to a time when we cared
for our family members before and after death ourselves. When one of our
own kin dies, it is a deeply personal time for families and friends.
As life events go, it's one of the most monumental.
What is now known in Australia as the DIY Funeral, is a welcomed choice among families wishing to own an active role in the care of the ones we love after their death, giving back to us these final acts of love.
What is it? A DIY Funeral is a funeral where the family takes ownership over the process by taking carriage of some or all of the organising and conducting. We take on the tasks we've been conditioned to outsource to the funeral director, from caring for our person at home after death to delivering every aspect of the service or ceremony. Not really a new concept, the practice is as old as time.
The DIY Funeral gives this rite of passage back to families, supporting us to grieve well and honour our loved ones in truly meaningful and hands-on ways. It's not for everyone, and it's not suited to every situation. Discussion with your doula or a funeral service willing to support you, will clarify the practicalities. Initially many may feel it's not something they could do. However, with an open heart and mind, many families find that with the support to make considered choices, it could be entirely possible. If it's right for your family situation, information, exploring and planning is the key.
This rite of passage holds the potential to heal, be highly personal and very beautiful
Families choosing this path can legally and safely care for their loved one at home after death for up to five days in NSW. Families can also legally take carriage of the funeral process with no or minimal involvement of a funeral director. A DIY Funeral can usually be planned even if your family member dies in a health facility, or somewhere other than home. Although the legislation is complex, with guidance, a DIY Funeral is very possible, offering families the many
benefits this choice can bring.
You might wonder how we take care of the body of a family member at home?
Most of us simply aren't aware it can be done, or how. It is entirely possible with commitment and diligence, and the support of a doula and/or a funeral service who are willing to provide the services you require and want. The obvious question is cooling and care to ensure the preservation of your precious person. This is paramount and can achieved with the hire of a cooling plate and practical steps.
Ensuring your loved one's body is ready for their funeral is not unlike caring for anyone who is bed-bound. It is an extension of the care you gave your loved one in life. Bringing in ceremony and ritual around this sacred process supports ongoing
connection with your precious person providing beautiful opportunities for truly saying goodbye in ways that are meaningful for families and friends, with deep respect for the grieving process and the love that has always been.
Simple, respectful, ceremonial bathing offers opportunity to be truly present to the death of the person you've loved
In the days following, there is time and space for cultural practices to be observed, for family and friends to come and say their goodbyes. It creates space to spend time with your loved one adjusting to their death. This is such precious time supporting acceptance, an important leap for us to make in the grieving process.
As a family, it's a time to action an after-death plan your loved one has made,
or to create a send-off that is personal, a true expression of the life your
loved one lived and the love you shared. As the funeral process unfolds, it gives many family members and friends a role in the preparations and very tangible ways to express grief through mourning together as you go about your preparations. This is especially good for children, creating opportunities to be involved, naturally creating space for questions to emerge and be answered.
If someone we love dies accidentally, traumatically or unexpectedly, legal processes may dictate how much involvement families can have in the days or weeks after their death. After legal processes have taken place, a plan to bring your loved one home for a DIY Funeral, in most cases, can be achieved. This may be with the support of a holistic funeral service for some aspects of body care.
If you are interested in exploring more about DIY Funerals, I actively support families with the process by facilitating both the creation of after death-care plans, and to action those plans for a DIY Funeral when the time comes. Please feel welcome to contact me to chat. You'll find quite a lot more information on the resources page.