Up until the last hundred years or so, caring for our loved ones after their death was something that we did ourselves. Sure, Funeral Directors existed, but their role was more about logistics and the funeral service itself and less about preparing the person (apart from embalming and certain preservation techniques). A family recently reminded me how loved ones would be laid out at home, people would visit to pay their respects up until the Funeral Director would collect the deceased on the day of their funeral and the mourners would follow in cortege to the location (usually a church or graveside) of the funeral service.
Nowadays, we live in an outsourcing economy and that means that almost everything leading up to the funeral is handled by funeral directors, morticians and specialists who have made the funeral industry their profession, or if they are part of our team, they view it more as their vocation than a profession.
Just because we engage Funeral Directors to care for our loved ones, doesn’t mean that we can’t be involved in the processes along the way. We actively encourage our families to be part of the process, as much as they want to be involved.
Of course there are some things that need to happen that most people would not want to be involved in. Things like setting facial features (closing eyes, mouth, irrigating and cleaning sinuses etc) aren’t for everyone, but the steps that come after these initial, more surgical processes, are definitely something that families can get involved with.
You may decide that you want to participate in washing your loved one, styling their hair, applying their make up, or dressing them in their favourite outfit for their funeral. These are all things that are most definitely available to families should they wish to be involved.
Whilst some of you might think these things a little weird or unusual for family to be part of, they are things that are gentle, intimate and give you time with your loved one in a way that you may never have considered.
Take dressing for example, this is a time you can spend with your loved one getting them prepared for their funeral. It’s time that you may never get to have again with them and is a perfect opportunity for some peaceful reflection with them, to say some things that you might want to say, and to have some quiet, uninterrupted moments together, and of course to make sure they look their absolute best for their last hoorah.
Each of the families that I have assisted in dressing their loved ones, have had a positive and emotionally charged experience. There are often tears, laughter, quiet times, and generally there is a sense of acceptance and release when it is all finished. Families have the ability to face death, while caring for their loved one and that is a powerful experience.
It is not for everyone though, some people like the idea of being removed from that part of the process, whilst others find it cathartic and gives them a sense of peace.
There is no right or wrong way to cope with the loss of a loved one, but you should always know what is available to you. So talk with your Funeral Director about how you can be involved in a way that feels comfortable for you.
At the end of it all, there is nothing to fear, but a whole lot of experience, emotion and love to be experienced.
If you have questions about how you can be involved in your loved ones funeral preparations 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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