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Planning Ahead: Home Funerals

What is a home funeral? We can think of it as “a home vigil immediately after the death, when friends and family would come to help, visit and share” This is often for 2 or 3 days, and it can be as private or public as you like. Why choose a home funeral rather than a conventional funeral? “We are seeking the kinship and meaning that doing these simple, mindful things brings us. And the home funeral experience is, first and foremost, mindful. Instead of handing off the inconvenient responsibilities and uncomfortable details, we immerse ourselves in them—we want to be fully present with and for our loved ones, living and dead; we choose deliberately to not let this tender time speed by at a distance, in a blur.” Both of these quotes are from the nonprofit organization called the National Home Funeral Alliance  (NHFA). This website is just the start of the [link to read more…]

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Planning Ahead: Natural Burial

Recognizing the importance of natural burial, the National Funeral Directors Association has a green burial certification program.   However, the Green Burial Council is the non-profit organization that sets the standards for natural burial (certifying cemeteries, products and home funeral guides as well as funeral directors) and also provides information for all of us. The website of the Green Burial Council has more articulate and thorough information than I could possibly cover here, including a description, responses to questions responses to questions, and a short planning guide. Grave Matters, by Mark Harris, is the book that brought natural burial to the attention of many people. You can read thorough and interesting descriptions of U.S. natural burial cemeteries in Natural Burial Cemetery Guide, a book by Ann Hoffner, as well as a range of topics in her blog, such as stories about her visits to cemeteries, delving into relevant science, and reporting on natural burial events. Hoffner’s [link to read more…]

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Planning Ahead: Rituals and personally-meaningful expression

Two of the main principles that guide our work at Mourning Dove Studio are: 1)You can make end-of-life choices that follow the same values that guide your life. 2)Art and creative expression can help honor and grieve our connections and losses. Rituals can be thought of as existing on a continuum connecting us to the past and to the future. They anchor us in place in the present, within our community. They help identify and affirm who we are. That’s why if prevailing rituals don’t fit, it’s isolating and lonely in the midst of whatever else is going on. We may just turn our back on the whole thing. Before I had a studio from which to work, I brought my caskets, coffins and shrouds to places such as Green Fairs which showcased environmentally-related projects or ideas. At one such fair, the responsible organizer of the fair kept circling the [link to read more…]

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