Here’s something I couldn’t imagine arising–as an idea–from anywhere other than California. And I know some people might go “Oh! Those wacky new-age Californians!” but frankly I think this is a fantastic idea:
I love this idea because I’ve always been the sort to think about what kind of funeral I’d want (wake, partying, rockin’ music, lots of food, plenty of Glenfidditch). I don’t dwell on it. I’m not morbid. I just think dying is an important part of living.
Home funerals are a fascinating idea, and frankly, even more fascinating as a concept simply because we Americans have gotten so unused to dealing with death as a natural element of life, that this whole notion of a home funeral has become remarkable.
(more behind the jump)
I met Olivia Bareham, co-founder of Sacred Crossings, at breakfast this morning. I’ve not met anyone whose personal gravitas was so soothing–and with her English accent, chatting with her was oddly calming. She and her partner work with families before, during and after the death of their loved one. If the person dying is conscious and able to help with planning, they get to decide what sort of funeral they’d like to have, how they want the room to look, everything (for example, one woman had been a flamenco dancer in her heyday, and, per her request, during her last days and then after, they’d decorated her whole room with her beautiful flamenco shawls). It’s legal to keep the body in your house (except in Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Nebraska and New York), and they do just that for three days, under controlled environmental conditions, while the family and friends can assemble, mourn, share memories, etc. “By the third day, people are beginning to move on; they’re back in the kitchen cooking dinner, they’ve made their peace,” said Bareham. A cardboard cremation “casket” (just a heavy-duty cardboard container for the body, used in cremations) is decorated with photos and art supplies by the family–even the kids get to draw or write on it–and the body is transferred into it, and then is either interred or cremated–whichever method they and their family chose. The whole family gets some sort of closure, gets to fully experience the death, and gets a chance to come to peace with the idea–much nicer than strangers coming & carting off your loved one, then filling them full of chemicals and putting makeup on them.
In the immortal words of Weezer, “How cool is that?!”
So…what sort of special things would YOU want at your last rites? I’d want everyone to bring their dogs so I could pet them before I passed on. And carrot cake. I’d want carrot cake in the room as I softly exited this world for the next. But…what music would I choose? Aigh!