What is it?
Community deathcare is a grassroots movement working to empower families (biological or chosen) to care for their dying and dead loved ones. The goal of community deathcare is to normalize deathcare in every home, so that families can return to doing what they have done for centuries, care for their own. The work of caring for people before and after death used to be a family- and community-led endeavor, and still is in many parts of the world. However, in the west, the professionalization of deathcare via long-term care facilities, hospices, and the funeral industry has all but removed families from the important and healing work of deathcare.
There’s a widespread misunderstanding that the law prevents families from being more involved in post-deathcare, but this isn’t the case. While laws governing such matters are decided provincially, in most Canadian provinces, hospitals are legally obliged to release a dead body to the next-of-kin and not, as is commonly believed, to a funeral director. While a next-of-kin can designate a funeral director to act on their behalf, they are not required to do so. Except under unusual circumstances, once a death has been registered with the local authorities and a burial permit has been issued, the next-of-kin is legally entitled to transport their loved one’s body to the location of their choosing (within provincial lines) and may sit vigil with the body for a period of time before burial or cremation.
In this blog post I’ve outlined a number of reasons why a family might opt for community-led deathcare.
How I can help:
If you’ve never experienced community-led deathcare, it can feel daunting. Where to begin? What’s legal? What’s safe? That’s where I come in. I’m a community deathcare educator, and I can help. I offer the following educational services:
- Planning: I can help you plan your funeral or your loved one’s funeral. I can introduce you to options and possibilities you may not have considered, but which align with your deepest values and wishes.
- Vigilling: I can accompany you throughout the final days and hours of your life or your loved one’s life, holding space during this vital time of transition.
- After death: For families choosing to keep or bring their loved one home after death, I can guide and support you through the days that follow, from the necessary paperwork, to care for the body, to home funeral arrangements.
- Yoga: I offer palliative yoga, yoga for caregivers, and yoga for grief.
It’s crucial to me that anyone who wishes to access support for community-led deathcare can do so. For that reason, my services are offered on a sliding scale. Please contact me for details.