Please take some time to listen to this interview with the wonderful Rabbi Mel HERE
And check out Rabbi Mel’s site and books at Grief OK
As this year comes to an end I love looking back and reflecting on where I was and where I am now. This year was full of high highs and some very low lows but one of my proudest achievements came this fall when I was elected as a Board Member to the National Home Funeral Alliance. These woman are my hero’s and mentors and this year I was told I was one of them. My heart is full and I look forward to continuing this powerful movement and educating across the globe on the sacred and healing act of holding a home funeral. Cheers to a new year and continued blessings for you all!
And in the wake of death, families more often than not leave all the funeral arrangements to the professionals. Lauren Carroll, a former funeral director, wants people to know there’s another option – keeping the death and funeral inside the home.
“It’s Earth-friendly and it will save you thousands of dollars, but it’s the healing of it that is the true benefit,” said Carroll, a home funeral educator and founder of Returning Home, a local nonprofit organization through Pikes Peak Community Foundation that provides educational workshops and training for future home funeral advocates. She acts as a consultant for families who want to pursue a home funeral option.
“Of all the home funerals there has never been a single complaint of, ‘That was horrifying and not what I wanted.’ But that has happened with funeral homes. Death is a natural part of life. I tell people I honor death because I love life so much. You can’t live a full life without knowing that death is at the end.”
You can read the rest of the article HERE
This is the question I have been working on for the last six years. I was eight months pregnant when I left the funeral industry forever. That baby I was carrying is now six years old. Motherhood added a new perspective to everything I do, including giving me the drive to make social changes in America and making sure I raise children that do not fear death or life. Motherhood can also be isolating. With my background as a funeral director I knew I had a decent chance at getting people to not only let me tell my story, but to actually LISTEN and reflect on their own lives and one day deaths. But where to begin?
I cannot lie and say I woke up one day and said, “Today I am going to start a non-profit to educate on home funerals and green burials.” It took many years of telling myself “This is crazy” to “How can I NOT do this?” This internal bickering went back and forth until I met a wonderful group of woman who forever changed my life. At one of our monthly meetings I shared my work, my “heart song”. I did a mock workshop and “death cafe” and everything changed. My dreams bloomed into reality in front of sisters. I received an unanimous “YES, DO this. NOW!” One sister led me to a local non-profit that solely gets non-profits started, another volunteered her work as a graphic designer, three more volunteered to be board members and support this vision. This passion, my purpose that had been lurking in my heart and mind, was revealed and overnight was a reality.
Community. That one word is the first thing I tell anyone interested in a home funeral. You must have community. Is that family? Is that close friends? Is that church members? Is it a sisterhood? It can be anyone, but you cannot have a successful home funeral without it. We all need support and that is where our traditional funerals are currently failing us (But more on that another day) If I did not find my community I would not be here today. Community is the golden answer.
So how do we start the process of returning funerals back into the home? The first step is finding our communities again. We have become a society of “Do-It-Yourselfers” I guess even a Home Funeral can fit into that DIY box but we are so much more than that. Let’s begin with Step One : Meet your neighbors. This is a HUGE one and an easy place to start. I don’t know when or why people thought it was ok to move into a neighborhood and never meet their neighbors, but unfortunately this is becoming the norm. Our neighbors are our closest allies and when you show kindness, kindness is returned.
One of the saddest statistics with funerals these days is the amount of robberies that take place during a traditional funeral. Robbers search obituaries and wait until they know the families will be away at the funerals to rob them. What heartache for that family to go through. If you take the first step of meeting your neighbors you just instantly added a safe guard to your home and possibly a new friend. *Also, I will add, when you do have that Home Funeral in the future it is a good thing to have the neighbors know what is going on in your home not only for the support, but so we don’t get “nosey neighbor” syndrome where they find it in necessary to investigate, or worse, call the police. “Nothing illegal going on here officer, but thank you for causing some un-needed emotional distress during this sensitive time”
I will continue writing on community because it is crucial to the work I do, but today please call a friend, visit a neighbor, join a weekly hiking group, or just say hello to a stranger. Our society needs to shift, we need to embrace love and support again. We can do many things by ourselves but death and dying should never be one of them. Let’s regain community!
Home Funerals are legal in every state (With 9 requiring a funeral homes assistance) And embalming is NEVER required.
Home Funerals can save you thousands of dollars (Currently a traditional funeral will cost you $7,300 in the U.S.)
You can honor your loved one with a personal and unique service in their own home.
Home funerals are good for the Earth! Currently,each year, in the U.S. we bury 30 million board feet of hardwood, 1.6 tons of reinforced concrete, 104,272 tons of steel, and 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid. And, no, none of that is Earth friendly materials.
You have time to sit and grieve with your loved one in a place you feel safe and comfortable. There is no RUSH in death and grief
What do you get when you combine cremation, a young female funeral director, and a sarcastic wit? The wonderful memoir, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, And other Lessons From the Crematory”, written by Caitlyn Doughty. Now it isn’t often I would tell you to read a book with so much death and somewhat vulgar imagery (not true I will always recommend these books), but with Caitlyn’s unique writing style it is easy to get swept up in this hilarious recount of her years at a crematory in the Bay Area. This New York Times Bestseller faces the challenge of making death a friend and not a foe. The stories are so detailed and humor fills the pages. You instantly feel the fear of death slip away and understand why her role, and this book, is so important in our death denial society.
Although this is Caitlyn’s first book she already has a large following with her popular YouTube videos “Ask a Mortician.” Viewers write in their questions and with the same wit and detail found in her book. She will paint a picture for you about the realities of death. This books answers all your questions and more. Want to know when and why we started embalming bodies? Easy, The Civil War in 1862 “during the battle of Vicksburg the two sides called for a brief armistice because of the stench of corpses disintegrating in the hot sun.” Transporting bodies hundreds of miles in this odious condition was a nightmare for train conductors, even the most patriotic among them.” This kind of imaginary continues as she delves into the modern embalming industry and her co-worker Bruce, the trade embalmer. She makes her claim that it is not something required and quite a barbaric act to preform on a body. “If embalming were something a tradesman like Bruce wouldn’t do on his own mother, I wondered why we were performing it on anyone at all.”
The book isn’t all trade secrets and gruesome facts but Caitlyn does make a point to lift that curtain behind the scenes so you can come up with your own judgments about what you may want your funeral and end of life to look like. We follow her story from the crematory to a Mortuary college and her first funeral directing job. She paints the picture of her ideal funeral home, where families take the reigns and conversations about death are not to be feared. Unfortunately this funeral home does not exist…yet. Caitlyn is working hard to make this funeral home a reality in Los Angeles and I can’t wait to follow her on her next adventures.
Read this book if you are curious to know more but need a safe and humorous touch to get you through these morbid thoughts and curiosities. We will all be there, someday, knocking on deaths door. Why not start your conversation now by reading, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory.” You won’t regret it.
Purchase the Book HERE