Had the opportunity to be part of a great meeting yesterday where Dani LaVoire, president of the National Home Funeral Alliance, led a deep discussion on family-centered after-death care in the US in general and particularly here in Arizona. Great resources are available at AZ Community Death Care. Two major takeaways are that:
1) Grief is big and complicated. Whenever possible, we want to plan in advance for what will happen when we or our loved ones die. Death, of course, is not optional. It will happen to us all, so it is a kindness to all those who must make end-of-life and after-death decisions to make our wishes known in advance.
2) Too often, especially in the midst of grief and feeling overwhelmed, we hand over our personal agency to perceived authorities. You have the legal right to a “home funeral” as you define it. For some people, that means personally handling all of the aftercare and final disposition of a loved one. For others, it means picking and choosing among the various professional services that can take care of some or all of the details, but who will leave you and your family the time and space to grieve in your own ways.
For me, it is an honor to assist partners and families as they move through this process at their own pace and in accordance with their own values.