A Family Led Funeral is a funeral that the family and friends of the deceased remain in full control of. This includes all the associated arrangements from the paperwork, permissions, the content of ceremony and services through to the physical care of your loved one’s body. If a family have been caring for a person to die at home, it may not be too far a step for them to continue that care after death. They are able to engage an End of Life Doula to assist with some of the tasks required however they remain the responsible party.
If a family like the idea of a Family Led Funeral but need some help, we offer this service to the community.
We offer an affordable End of Life service where we can be engaged before or after death and we can help you with the practical assistance, emotional support and technical know how to make your choices a reality. We provide a peaceful presence and are able to guide you through the process of creating your own Family Led Funeral.
Some of the things we can do —
Consultation, planning, advocacy and support before death
Vigil and compassionate family assistance and support during the dying process
Assisting with natural after death care including cooling, washing, dressing
Offering ceremony options and organisation
Connection with service providers for burial and cremation
Help you honour your cultural or spiritual requirements
A family choosing to spend time with a deceased person and the option of keeping a body at home allows for a home vigil. This is whether the deceased is kept at home right up until the point of burial or cremation or for a shorter time. It gives the opportunity for a gentler approach to ‘letting go’. It allows for the family and community members to gather together, grieve, share stories and memories, comfort each other and ultimately plan a farewell. It is empowering because death and the circumstances around it are often seen as, and indeed often are, circumstances beyond a person’s control. We have little to no say over when someone will die and those living on are made even more powerless by handing the body and all the arrangements over to a business. This Family Led Funeral concept gives that power back to the family and allows them to be an integral part of the process rather than consigning it to an Industry that will provide a beautiful, professional but often expensive and less-personal service with very little family involvement.
Taking time after a death in a more gentle and familiar surrounding also allows time for the organisation of the other more practical and legislative requirements and processes. Often all of this seems rather hurriedly done in a relatively short interview with a Funeral Director. You will be required to ORGANISE A Medical Cause of Death Certificate and register the death with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This and the Application for Search (which produces the Record of Death for you) can be completed and lodged at Service Tasmania. You will also be required to complete a Burial and Cremation Permit (which may be available to you from the Crematorium Management) and then to make a booking for either Burial or Cremation and eventually transport the body to that place.
With a Family Led Funeral you remain in control and you can engage us to help you through the whole process or to do any part of it for you.
Keeping a body at home
When it comes to keeping your loved one at home, you can wash, dress or wrap, encoffin a person and keep them in your home for several days. In Tasmania there is no prescribed length of time. General consensus in the Home Funeral Movement suggests that depending on the manner of death, 3 days is a reasonable time to keep a body at home without any outward signs of decomposition being present. Indeed, there have been various examples of people keeping their loved ones at home for longer periods without incident.
There is a requirement under Tasmanian Burial and Cremation Regulations 2015 to maintain the temperature of the body at 5 degrees Celsius or lower. This is possible and there are various options available to families to do so. The use of a cooling bed or blanket, a cuddle cot for a child, ice packs, dry ice, damp towels and/or Techniice (an Australian re-usable product) in conjunction with portable air conditioners to assist in keeping room temperature cool are all options available to Tasmanians. If this cool temperature is maintained, then you are not required to place the care of your loved one in the hands of a mortuary or into refrigeration.
Interestingly, in the international community, the body temperature considered to be acceptable to maintain an outwardly suitable presentation is actually much higher, at around 18 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit)1. In some US States it is stipulated to be lower at 8 degrees Celsius (47-48 degrees Fahrenheit).2
In the UK, where it is not uncommon to have waits of several weeks for Cremations to take place, there have been Home Funerals that have seen the body kept at home (not without the challenge of considerable maintenance, but certainly without incident) for up to two weeks simply using ice packs.3
The World Health Organisation has made it quite clear that there is little risk associated with coming into contact with or looking after a deceased person. “… Furthermore, although some of these diseases are highly contagious, their causative agents are unable to survive long in the human body following death… It is therefore unlikely that such epidemics will result from contact with a cadaver. Indeed, survivors present a much more important reservoir for disease…” – World Health Organisation.4 Dr. Michael Osterholm (Centre for Infectious Disease Policy and Research (CID) goes on to state – “… the mere presence of a dead body without regard to its embalmed status and one that is not leaking blood from an open wound or perforation, does not pose an increased [health] risk of infectious disease transmission for the person who might handle that body or review it in a private setting. Once a human dies, infectious agents that would be of any concern, including those on the individual’s skin or internal organs, is greatly diminished… there simply is no measurable risk of that body transmitting an infectious agent…”5 This is an important point because often we have been lead to believe as a consuming public that dead bodies are dangerous and should therefore be handed over to the professionals for their expert care. This is not in fact the case and that is reflected in the lack of Legislative requirement upon the public to engage the services of a Commercial Funeral Home.
1The Science Behind Green and Conventional Burial in Lay Terms by the Green Burial Council, prepared by Lee Wesbter with assistance from Carl Anderson, M.S.; Kirsten Bass, MD, PhD; John Meagher, Executive Director, RESET; Lindsay Soyer, licenced FD; Merilynne Rush; and Steven Whitman, M.A., AIC. Published in Changing Landscapes, compiled and edited by Lee Webster. Page 246.
2The Advantages of Alternative Cooling Techniques by Lee Webster. Published in Changing Landscapes, compiled and edited by Lee Webster. Page 59.
3The Natural Death Handbook, Fifth Edition, Page 34. Chapter written by Ru Callender, Natural Death Centre Charity UK
4The Science Behind Green and Conventional Burial in Lay Terms by the Green Burial Council, prepared by Lee Wesbter with assistance from Carl Anderson, M.S.; Kirsten Bass, MD, PhD; John Meagher, Executive Director, RESET; Lindsay Soyer, licenced FD; Merilynne Rush; and Steven Whitman, M.A., AIC. Published in Changing Landsacapes, compiled and edited by Lee Webster. Page 242.
5The Science Behind Green and Conventional Burial in Lay Terms by the Green Burial Council, prepared by Lee Wesbter with assistance from Carl Anderson, M.S.; Kirsten Bass, MD, PhD; John Meagher, Executive Director, RESET; Lindsay Soyer, licenced FD; Merilynne Rush; and Steven Whitman, M.A., AIC. Published in Changing Landsacapes, compiled and edited by Lee Webster. Page 242.