Simple Direct Funerals

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Overcoming the Fear of Funerals

The other day, I was arranging a funeral with a family for their husband, father, and grandfather. Like many families, a funeral was not something they knew much about organizing. So, I could have easily led them down a path to doing a funeral that I thought would be best for them. Would they know any better? But I didn’t do that.

Even though they weren’t sure, we talked about what they wanted to do and how we could achieve this. It meant they would be taking a step into the unknown, but with guidance and support, they were able to have a farewell that was personal and meaningful to them.

One thing they wanted was to have the person at home. After being ill for many years, his faithful wife wanted to be part of this final stage. They were able to have him at home for a few days, without embalming.

What stood out for me was that when we arrived to bring him home, the grandkids were obviously a little hesitant to see him. They stayed in the kitchen, unsure and nervous.  When I came to collect him a few days later, these same grandkids were in and out of his room and very comfortable having their grandad there.

I spoke to their grandmother who said that this had been incredibly positive for everyone. It removed the trepidation and fear associated with death and replaced it with a much more natural part of life. The person was still their granddad and he wasn’t going to do anything weird. They decorated the coffin and filled it with flowers and cards. And they chose to be the ones who would carry their husband, dad, and grandad from the house to my car.

There are a few misconceptions about death, and perhaps the major one has been horror movies where dead bodies could be “unpredictable”. In reality, unpredictable just doesn’t happen. Every person in my care has been well-behaved with no surprises at all.

Making the funeral a more family-friendly and natural process has been very helpful to families.  Over the New Year, this wasn’t the only funeral that was all done at home. At home, people feel a lot more comfortable, and there’s no time constraint. People can have their own moments with the person if they wish. They can say their farewells, share stories, mourn, and remember.

Naturally, there does come a time when the family is happy for me to come and collect the person. And contrary to what you may think, it is not because of any odors or other natural processes. It is more that they have had their time, and it feels right for them to continue their journey.

I love being able to allow families to have the confidence to do what they thought they couldn’t. I enjoy simply being in the background to guide, reassure, and support the family during an event that happens every day all over the country.  For the focus and energy to be directed to the people rather than the process.

I love seeing the change in families as they face their uncertainty with confidence and gratitude. Often you will hear funeral directors emphasizing their professionalism as an essential aspect of their service. It gives the impression that only they can do what they do. History shows that this hasn’t been the case. For millennia, it was families who cared for families. In becoming distant from death, leaving it to the “professionals”, probably hasn’t helped as much as we thought.

Of course, this direct involvement is not for everyone. Families are unique, and for some, it was while the person was alive that mattered more. The body is like a shell, and the person’s spirit has already gone. Their choice is to have minimal involvement with the body. This is absolutely appropriate because every family deals with death in their way.

Our aim at SDF is to help families not to fear funeral.  Focus on the important, keep costs down, allow more freedom.  Making death a more natural part of life is not a bad thing. It’s removing the business aspect of funeral to something far more natural and manageable.  And for some, to find a better way to say goodbye.