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HOME DEATH AND HOME FUNERALS. Bringing death and funerals back into families and communities.

Updated on October 15, 2014

CIRCLE OF LIFE

CIRCLE OF LIFE

 

I will be discussing my own experiences of death and presenting information in regard to undertaking your own funeral arrangements and care for the deceased. I will draw this information from reading material and my own inquiry, which is particularly relevant to Perth Western Australia.

If you require further assistance and information check out my other website

http://theendoflifecare.com.au

INTENT

As expressed in my profile most of my immediate family is deceased. I have briefly outlined my experiences of each of these family deaths, as each one was so very different and hence my reactions were very different.If you would like to read these personal experiences you can go to my blog following the link below.

From each of these experiences though I have gleaned a variety of perspectives of death and dying. They have also moulded whom I am today and led me to this place where I want to create a space where information can be shared and peoples access to this information at a time of grief can be made easier.

I will be undertaking the following;

- reviewing books on the subject of home death, death doulas, and do-it-yourself funerals.

- creating links to the relevant Legislation and paperwork involved in undertaking your own funeral, specific to Perth,Western Australia.

- creating links to the relevant Western Australian Government sites in regards to preparing for your death. ie Wills, Enduring Power of

Attorney,Enduring Power of Guardianship,Advance Health Direction and Organ Donor.

- creating links to information in regards to Palliative care in Western Australia.

- creating links to relevant Legislation in what is legally required once a person has died

- Presenting information related to the Natural Death Movement, which has been around for years in England and the United States but of

which Australia is yet to embrace. I know it is happening at the grassroots and that there are people in Australia creating organizations,

lobbying for natural burial sites, tending to their deceased loved ones at home and performing their own funerals.

- Convey information related to Natural Burial and green choices in Funerals. Fremantle Cemetery has now opened a Natural Burial Ground

within the cemetery.

- I would also like to hear from anyone who has anything to share on the topic so that we can create an information network.

CIRCLE OF LIFE

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE.

The main theme in my life thus far has been the birth, life, death, rebirth cycle or the circle of life. It has created and moulded my life experiences and is a big part of who I am. It is these experiences, which have led me to creating this blog and all that I will express within it. Grief has become a very familiar and old friend, one that I know intrinsically. It is from this place that I have developed a desire to find out more about how we can care for our dying in a more natural way and reclaim the process of tending to the dead. Thus, placing that role back into the family and the community, with a vision of creating a more healing and enriching experience for all involved.

I have been a strong advocate for home birth and birthed all of my children at home. This experience has been profound for my family, my community and myself. I now believe that the essence of the home birth experience could be infused into the experience of death. Both of these experiences are rites of passage that transform us. They are times when we enter the veil and walk between the worlds...when we are stripped of all of our masks and reborn into a new form.

"Here is the circle of rebirth. Through you all passes out of life, but through me all may be reborn again. Everything passes; everything changes. Even death is not eternal. Mine is the mystery of the womb that is the cauldron of rebirth. Enter into me and know Me, and You will be free of all fear. For as life is but a journey into death, so death is but a passage back to life, and in Me the circle is ever turning." (STARHAWK, 'The Spiral Dance'19

HOME FUNERALS VIDEO

An introduction to and explanation of Home Funerals.

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HOME FUNERALS.

As you can see by the above video a home funeral can be a very rewarding experience. It is one which provides dignity and grace to the deceased as well as providing a very intimate and soul filled experience to those who are grieving. It allows all involved to participate and be empowered in their grieving experience. It does require some preparation and forethought and a supportive and committed group of people to undertake this process, however it is achievable with the right knowledge and planning in place.If this whole process doesn't feel achievable one can still glean aspects which can be achieved and still provide an uplifting experience. For me personally, just having the opportunity to have my daughter Leteishas body at home with us for a few hours to wash and bathe her was very beneficial and soothing.Also having the opportunity to paint her coffin was also very therapeutic.

Refer to the following links for further information, keeping in mind they are USA based sites.

SINGLE FUNERAL PERMIT

SINGLE FUNERAL PERMIT

METROPOLITAN CEMETERIES BOARD Perth WA.

If you are wanting to conduct your own funeral you need to apply for a SINGLE FUNERAL PERMIT with the Perth Metropolitan Cemeteries Board whose main office is at Karrakatta Cemetery Perth. They have a kit which has all of the information regarding what documentation is required, what requirements they want met, as well as step-by-step instructions, price lists and contact lists for medical referees, coffin makers and the relevant Government Departments. I obtained my kit from Fremantle Cemetery and I would think that all the metropolitan cemeteries would have it available. I would contact them first just to be sure though. The kit outlines the requirements for both Burials and Cremations. There appears to be more paperwork involved when doing a cremation.It is very comprehensive and easy to follow.

The following is an outline of what you are required to adhere to and provide when conducting your own funeral:

PRIOR TO THE FUNERAL.

- Provide a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death or Neo-Natal Certificate or Coroners Order.

- Have secure Public Liabilty Insurance to the value of $5,000,000.

- Be over the age of 18years old.

- Apply for a single funeral permit.

- Make a booking for the burial or cremation and if you require the use of the chapels.

- Ensures that the body is prepared and kept appropriately prior to the funeral and that the relevant health regulations are adhered to.

- A suitable coffin has been provided and the body is properly identified on the coffin with a metal plate and lead strip.

- Have a suitable vehicle to transport the coffin containing the deceased.

- You require a completed identification form to show that the right person is in the coffin.

PLANNING THE FUNERAL.

- Make sure that all the relevant bookings made for the day.

- Place relevant notices in the newspaper.

- Organise floral arrangments and decorations.

- Arrange a Funeral Celebrant or person to conduct the ceremony.

- Ensure the purchase of a new grave, natural burial site or memorial location if relevant.

- Arrange all the relevant paperwork and permits.

PERMITS.

- For a burial you need an Application for Burial and a Digging Requisition Form.

- For a cremation you need an Application for Cremation and a Permit to Cremate.

ON THE DAY OF THE FUNERAL.

- Must have all relevant paperwork in order and appropriate fees paid.

- Be on time and adhere to times allocated for use of chapels etc.

- Conduct the funeral procession and be responsible for all participants.

AFTER THE FUNERAL.

- Collect the ashes once deceased is cremated.Can be a couple of days after the funeral.

- Register the Death within 14days and then apply for a Death Certificate.

-Below are links to some of the Government Departments that you tend to deal with.

Western Australian Government Departments.

The following are links to Perth, Western Australian Government Departments.They are the ones that you commonly deal with when a person dies in Perth,WA.

PAINTING YOUR OWN COFFIN.

When my daughter Leteisha died I wanted to paint her coffin. At the time I did not know what was available so I ordered a basic white coffin through the funeral directors. I gathered our family together and we put our handprints on the sides and the kids decorated it with stickers. This was a very healing process for our whole family. I painted the top and felt very connected to Leteisha's spirit.

As an Art Therapist it reinforced what I already knew to be true in that, the creative art making process is very healing and allows the depths of our psyche to express itself.

I would now recommend getting a coffin that is plain pine wood or one of the eco-friendly type that are available on the internet. You could even have a go at making your own. Try to use non-toxic paints and be conscious of what glues and adhesives you use as these pollute the environment when buried or cremated.

Gather your family, friends,and community and have a special time together. It is a great opportunity to share stories about our loved one and to perhaps create something that is reflective of their personality. Most importantly see it as an opportunity to grieve and start the healing process.

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MAKING YOUR OWN COFFIN.

Making your own coffin or making one for a loved one can be a very rewarding experience. There are guidelines and sizes that you must adhere to and you can contact your local cemetery for this information. If the coffin is for a natural burial then there are also extra guidelines in order for the coffin to be classed as environmentally suitable.This also applies if it is for cremation as there are enviromental factors involved when burning certain materials. Keep it simple is probably the best approach.

In Western australia the following are some basic guidelines which are to be adhered to:

- Must be structurally sound

- Constructed of timber or wood derivatives.

- Sealed and impervious to liquids.

- Lid is secure especially during handling and transport.

- No distortion during handling and transportation.

- Has appropriate identification tags attached.

For further information and ideas refer to the links below and see my featured lenses.

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CEREMONIES.

I recently attended a friends Memorial Service. My friend had struggled with Breast Cancer for over 3 years and graciously and courageously faced death. The Memorial Service was written and created by her before she died. It was so beautiful. She had a partner and two young daughters and the service was designed for them. It was held in a park and a friend conducted the service, we honored and remembered her. There was a photo board full of photos. We were asked to write a blessing for her which was then attached to a balloon and released. We were also asked to write positive statements for her children which were placed on a wishing tree and which would then be given to each of her girls for their memory boxes. There was no coffin as she had chosen to have an unaccompanied cremation. The Memorial Service was then followed by a Wake.

It was truly a celebration of her life and we were all given a postcard with a collage of photos of her to take home for our own Memory boxes.

I wanted to share this story as it highlights some simple things that we can do to create a beautiful Ceremony. It was a very child friendly service and inclusive of the children which was wonderful.

I wasn't sure what to do as a gift for the family so my daughter and I made little gift bags for the two girls with little worry dolls, candles, tealight lanterns, a rose quartz gemstone and a beautiful angel to place somewhere special.

For some more ideas and things to consider when planning a memorial see the following link and see my featured lenses.

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NATURAL EARTH BURIAL.

Cemeteries are now creating areas for natural burials whereby people are buried in shrouds or bio-degradable coffins. The bodies are not embalmed and there are no headstones or memorial plaques. Ideally the land is re vegetated with natural bush.Very much a green alternative to the energy consuming burials and cremations that we have at present.

Fremantle Cemetery now has one and they are available in other states in Australia.

Please go to my other lense specifically on Natural Earth Burial and Green Funerals for further and more updated information.

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GETTING PREPARED FOR DEATH.

I recently attended a workshop about Enduring Power Of Attorney, Orders for Administration and Enduring Power of Guardianship and Advanced Health Directives (Living Wills).

These documents are very important and legal directives which can be set up in advance to protect you and your family during illness and prior to death.

The following link is a Government information page outlining what is involved.

You can also go to my other lense Getting Prepared For Death In Western Australia which delves into this topic in more depth.

RECOMMENDED READING

I have found these books to be very helpful and insightful and great resources.

BOOK REVIEWS

BOOK REVIEWS

DEALING CREATIVELY WITH DEATH. A MANUAL OF DEATH EDUCATION AND SIMPLE BURIAL.

This book gives a simple overview of the death process. It covers topics such as death education, living with dying, simple burial and cremation,death ceremonies and other related topics. It is a good resource as it lists references to other books and relevant organizations. It also has sample ceremonies. It is however American based information.

MIDWIFE FOR SOULS. SPIRITUAL CARE FOR THE DYING.By Kathy Kalina.

Kathy Kalina is a nurse who works in the Hospice Care area and is 100% Catholic. Her book is very God and religious focused but is still written to enable people to understand the dying process and how to spiritually assist people who are dying. She makes a fantastic comparison between the birthing process and the dying process. It is an easy read book with beautiful stories and great information. The back of the book is filled with prayers that you can refer to if assisting a dying person. It is specific to Hospice Care and people who are terminally ill.

COMING TO REST: A GUIDE TO CARING FOR OUR OWN DEAD by Julie Wiskind and Richard Spiegal.

This book is a great book...very simply written and structured and has some wonderful checklists to help people get organized if a death is impending. It is an American based book and the laws relate to USA only.

SACRED DYING: CREATING RITUALS FOR EMBRACING THE END OF LIFE by Megory Anderson.

I love this book...Megory talks about her experiences as a Death Doula, vigiling with dying people in either their home or hospital/hospice. She talks about how important it is to create a sacred space for the person who is dying and creating rituals to assist them in their process. These rituals are to help them resolve issues that are preventing them from letting go and dying. Other rituals are designed to help the person move easily through the dying process. Her focus is always on the dying person's needs and attending to the spiritual aspects of dying, recognizing their beliefs and honouring these. It is a very easy to read book and her personal experiences are inspiring.

FUNERAL RIGHTS.WHAT THE 'DEATH-CARE'INDUSTRY DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW. By Robert Larkins.

I have just finished this book and it is the best resource I have found so far. Firstly, it is relevant to Australia and gives great insight into the workings of the Funeral sector and its history. It outlines the practical steps one needs to consider when organizing and making decisions around what sort of funeral you would like and how to care for the deceased. Included in this are step-by-step actions one needs to take when doing a Do-it-yourself funeral. There are lots of personal accounts and resource lists and so much more. Coming from a legal background Robert presents all the relevant legal information and authorities that one needs to deal with in regards to death and your Funeral rights.

I would highly recommend this book.

Funeral Planning Poll

I am interested in how many people would choose to plan their own funeral or employ someone to help them to plan their own funeral, instead of using a funeral director.

Would you choose to plan your own funeral instead of using a funeral director?

See results

I value your thoughts and opinions. Please respond. Thankyou for viewing my lens.

READER FEEDBACK

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    • profile image

      Fred 17 months ago

      Thank you for such careful and sensitive information.

    • LaurieNunley517 profile image

      LaurieNunley517 19 months ago from Deep South

      You have provided us with a well researched alternative to traditional funeral methods. I helped my mother with a family led home burial for my step father. It was very personal and designed for our family. Thank you for bringing this method to the public's attention.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi there -

      Nice lens with a lot of good info. Personally, I feel that simplicity rules the day. I'm all for simple and cheap when it comes to funerals. Whatever resources I have should be preserved for those I leave behind -not spent on elaborate proceedings and not for a big chunk of carved granite. That how I see it.

      Thanks for all the info.

      Vic Doke

    • earthybirthymum profile image

      earthybirthymum 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      CBC radio did a wonderful documentary on this subject. I think it's a choice that should be easily made by those who wish this type of ritual. Great Lense!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Over the years we have helped people with arranging a funeral themselves but many have had the same problem.What to do with the body once death has occurred say in a nursing home,private hospital with no holding facility or the family home.Many times St Johns have been called but they will not take the person as they do not have a mortuary.The Coroner may not take them and nor will anyone else other than a Funeral Director who will charge for the transfer and storage costs.Take this into consideration as well as other costs involved in DIY and you could end up paying just as much as you would a Funeral Director.Best to work it all out b4 it happens as you may find a Director such as us that will not charge the earth for their services.You will find that Funeral Directors charge different prices for the same services but in defense of the bigger companies,they have higher overheads so they have to charge more to cover them. Also check to see if they have a funeral home and where the body will be kept.Check to see if the companies are related to one another as some are with different ph no,s an addresses so you don't know you are talking to the same Company.You may find that the funeral home carries the family name but it is no longer owned or operated by them.This happened when the American Company SCI purchased many funeral homes including Perth.thanks for the opportunity to share and my sincere condolences on the loss of your Daughter Leteisha.

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      Bluesauger 5 years ago

      I really liked your points on the circle life, it is such an important thing to remember during trying times.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks for the resource. I needed a few funeral messages and ideas for a cousin's memorial, and this has really helped.

    • vitar profile image

      vitar 6 years ago

      Excellent lens with great information. Keep up the good work.

      I invite you visit and rate my lens Sample Eulogy.

      Thanks!

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      Ariana-of-Oz 9 years ago

      Hello Nicolette, what a great site. So comprehensive and easy to follow, you have done a lot of research and your own experience is invaluable to others. I want to give you five stars.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I applaud your initiative to get info out to the public so that families and communities know they have options for a more personalised and fulfilling experience around death, their own or a loved ones. The Natural Death Centre, Byron Bay, NSW is another great resource: www.naturaldeathcentre.org.au