What Makes A Meaningful Departure?
I’m sure most of us can recall times throughout our lives where we’ve been snuggled up with someone we love under a warm and comforting blanket. They are memories of happy times, of intimacy and of being close and connected with someone who we love dearly. So it is only natural that we relate those comfortable blankets and quilts with those memories as time moves on.
As Funeral Directors, we are often called to Nursing Homes and Aged Care facilities to bring a deceased person into our care, usually at times when other residents of those facilities are going about their normal daily lives. Sometimes for us it can feel like we are on a covert mission, hiding behind corners, slipping into open door ways and doing our best to be stealthy and not seen. This is a normal expectation of our Nursing Homes and Aged Care facilities, to prevent upsetting other residents.
Depending on how you view death and dying, this can be more traumatic for the residents than seeing a Funeral Director.
This month however, we were called to Prins Willem Alexander Village in Birkdale to bring a lovely lady into our care. For us, we were preparing to channel our inner ninja and be as stealth as possible, however this time, the nurses introduced us to their new way of departing a deceased person. There was no expectation of us to be unseen and when the time came to take our lovely lady through the halls, the Nurses from Prins Willem presented us with the most gorgeous, handmade quilt that was draped over our retrieval stretcher. They then explained to us that their new Leadership Team wanted the residents to have the opportunity to say their farewells, for us to take our time leaving and to give others the chance to say goodbye.
This was such a remarkable experience not only for the residents, but also for us as Funeral Directors. The residents embraced this and they said their farewells with tears, with smiles and with full hearts, and we had the opportunity to be equally heart-full in the process. It was such a beautiful change from the normal and something that instantly stuck with us.
A few days later, we were called to Hopewell Hospice on the Gold Coast and it was here that this process of embracing death and dying and giving people a meaningful departure from their final place, was truly taken to a whole new level of love, compassion and respect.
When we arrived at Hopewell Hospice, it was around 8pm in the evening, it was raining outside and the chill in the air was whipping around our faces as we made our way from our vehicle to the front door. As we approached the door, we immediately noticed the most beautiful scene, candles had been lit to shine a wonderful flickering glow along the path and to the front door. As we stepped through we were instantly met with warmth that was not just a temperature thing, but an instant feeling of home. This was such a change and both myself and my assistant for that particular night were equally impressed.
The Staff at Hopewell Hospice took the time to chat with us, to get to know us and to explain some of their process and how they do things differently. Hopewell is most definitely a home away from home and the staff were incredible and there was definitely no expectation of ninja-like stealthiness from them.
As the time came for us to leave, our lovely lady was again draped in a beautiful quilt and a song that had been chosen by her family “Queen of my Heart” began to play as we made our way to the front door. Candlelight continued to light our way and the experience was gentle, dignified and so beautiful.
This reminded me at the time, that death is not something to fear and not something we should hide. The approach both of these facilities take in facilitating a departure was so wonderful, beautiful and such a positive experience for all involved. It really made me wish that all of our friends in Nursing Homes, Aged Care and Hospice Facilities, took this approach and helped their residents and staff form a meaningful and beautiful relationship with death.
You see, when we form a relationship with something that was previously taboo, or feared, we form ways of coping, of acceptance and of embracing the inevitable in all of our lives. Providing people with a way to begin their grief journey and facing the challenges of the days ahead, is a remarkable and beautiful gift to give. So from us to the staff at Hopewell Hospice and Prins Willem Alexander, we thank you, for having such a beautiful approach to departures and for allowing us the honour of participating in a meaningful way.
Death is not something to be feared, naturally some of us do, and that is ok. The more we work at a relationship with death and dying, the more free we become to live our best lives.
If you have questions about how we do certain things or questions about funerals in general, why not get in touch with us on 1300 043 522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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