For a long time, we took care of each other at the end of life in the simple ways that humans need to be taken care of, in ways that our bodies crave; giving and receiving touch, offering nourishment, gentle comfort, soothing sounds and scents. For most of history, we didn't have access to the technological and medical interventions that we have today. Instead, we relied on instinct and intuition. And there was no right or wrong way to care for our people as they were transitioning. We did what came naturally. We trusted ourselves and we trusted each other. We leaned into our community and helped each other during life's most difficult moments and we knew the favor would be returned when our time came.
A century ago, all funerals in America were home funerals and most people died at home. We all knew how to help a dying person feel comfortable and we knew how to dress a body after death.
We never decided to stop taking care of the people we love, we just got talked out of it. With the rapid modernization of the funeral industry, we became convinced that death and dying were inherently dangerous. And as this industry capitalized on our fears, the modern approach to death and dying was born. We began outsourcing deathcare.
Tending to your person as they died, and tending to their body after death, was not only an incredibly important act of love, but it was also a chance to process a lot of emotions. After death, they weren't immediately taken away. You combed their hair, moisturized their hands, you talked to them, you sang to them while holding your children, your brothers and sisters. You had time, privately or with your closest people, to do some of the most important emotional work of your life. You walked through the garden trimming greenery for their grave. It gave your grief somewhere to go.
And it didn't cost you much at all. Maybe you paid for meal that you set out for guests or for someone to help you prepare the body. Today, people easily spend thousands to sit awkwardly in folding chairs, wearing uncomfortable clothes, sipping bad coffee from styrofoam cups, looking at their loved one across the room for a few hours.
We'd like to help change that. So, as a community, where do we begin? The death-positive movement understands that dying is a natural part of the life cycle. We understand that death isn’t solely a medical event, but also a spiritual and social event. We want to reclaim these practices for ourselves. We believe community deathcare is in our bones and that by caring for each other at the end of life we heal ancient wounds.
Or join us for a Death Over Dinner potluck. They really are a blast every single time. Or, if you're ready for deep diving, try a Living Funeral guided meditation. You can find both on our Events page.
It could be that you're interested in taking the responsible next step of finalizing your Advance Care Plans because everyone should have them in order. Yes, everyone. It seems too soon, until it's too late.
If nothing else, follow us on social media to keep learning and growing with us. Thank you.
Services are private sessions we provide to families, individuals, businesses and organizations. Events include all of our public workshops, meditations, and dinners that are open to the public.