Barb Phillips - Thanadoula
What we in North America consider a ‘traditional’ funeral, is in actual fact a fairly recent phenomenon. In most of the world, including much of continental Europe, what we call an Alternative Funeral is the traditional funeral, embalming is not carried out and families and friends care for their deceased and pay their last respects at a home wake. We are experiencing a growing interest in returning to this more simple, spiritual, family-focused practice.
Green funerals and burials are also a growing trend as society becomes more mindful of our carbon footprint and the impact we have on the planet.
A "Green" or alternative funeral and burial is an environmentally conscious approach to the final arrangements and disposal of the body in keeping with the deceased’s personal values. The body is not embalmed with toxic chemicals, which usually contain formaldehyde – known to cause health risks to those working in the funeral industry. Only biodegradable funerary products are used. Burial occurs without a cement burial vault or the use of metal or non- sustainable hardwood caskets. Often, families choose to use a shroud, make a casket, or purchase a cardboard casket, which they can decorate as a loving and meaningful tribute to the deceased.
I offer care, support and guidance before, during and after the death of a loved one and in my role as a certified celebrant, I can also officiate at funeral and burial proceedings. I would consider it an honour to meet with you to discuss how I can guide and support you through the process of a family-directed home funeral and Green burial.
Family led funerals focus on participation and choice. The family decides how the event unfolds so that it addresses their needs and helps them come to terms with the loss of their loved one. A family directed funeral is slow and focused rather than a cookie-cutter event hosted by a funeral corporation.
This end of living care movement includes death becoming de-medicalized and will again be viewed as a natural event that can be managed in natural settings such as a home. This also includes families directing some or all of the funeral and after death care arrangements. From washing and anointing the body, to dressing the body and holding vigils (sitting with a loved one for up to three days), to transporting the body to a cemetery or crematorium, a family member or legally designated agent can carry out any or all of these tasks.
I would be pleased to provide consultation services for after-death home care and vigil and disposition choices for those who wish to learn more about natural death care options, including green burial.
There are no standard guidelines for home funerals. It may simply comprise a few friends and family members supporting one another in a vigil, or it could be a multi-generational gathering of extended family and friends, preparing and caring for the body of their loved one at home, in preparation for transportation to the church, cemetery or crematorium.