Benefits of a Home Funeral Vigil

After a loved one dies, why keep the body at home? What advantages are there to undertaking the death related tasks ourselves? Don Morris, a death educator from Victoria and one of our teachers, has written the following:

Enhances participation – Home funeral vigils offer opportunities for participation which fosters healing from grief. Rochelle Martin of Ontario’s Home Funeral Alternatives says, “family and friends become involved in the many tasks of the vigil process, creating a spirit of community. Most people are grateful for an opportunity to show their love by helping. They feel useful and needed, rather than at a loss for what to do, during this difficult time.”

Shifts locus of activity and control – You can let go/say goodbye to a loved one when you decide to in the comfort and security of your home or at another vigil site. A sense of sovereignty (freedom) and empowerment is yours when you break your dependence on commercial funeral directors (to whatever degree you choose, circumstances legally permitting) for the care of a loved one.

Slows things down – Home vigils provide lots of time to absorb and accept the harsh reality of death, and for the final, beautiful expressions of love.

You create your own end-of-life rituals and help shape Canadian culture with other courageous, pioneering, like-minded souls – You, your family, friends, and community circles can craft/fashion any all kinds of creative, personalized rituals and ceremonies expressing respect, love, joy, gratitude, etc. for a loved one. Together we can fashion a healthier and greener culture instead of simply accepting/consuming what funeral professionals currently offer.

Positive modelling for children – When adults are grieving, praising, laughing, crying, honouring; dealing directly with death in a home setting, children develop less death denial and related neurosis as adults.

Positive modelling for other adults – When adults reclaim lost aspects of family and community-led death care, including building/painting/decorating/personalizing caskets, designing and performing all kinds of wonderful healing rituals, it encourages others to do likewise.

Environmentally respectful and cost saving – Home Funerals forgo the use of metal caskets, concrete burial vaults, and, when possible, embalming. Cost savings when you ‘do it yourself’ are very large.

Written by Don Morris.