Role play. Ritual. Vigiling and Ceremony. Lifting, moving, cleansing, dressing and casketing models in a home. Unraveling legalities and logistics. Self-care and more.
Home funerals are capturing the attention of Canadians in growing numbers. Why? I believe we are in the midst of a profound paradigm shift in regards to death and dying practices. People are wanting to bring more love than fear to death; to life, and to dying. We are admitting our human desire for connectivity: to oneself, others, the great mystery (call it what you may) and to all realms of nature. Home funerals/vigils help accomplish this. They are simple, humane, historically time tested, and by design provide the needed time and space for 'love to enter.' They allow for maximum participation and unlimited opportunities for creative self-expression. As long as we are comfortable participating so are our children. In a home funeral you can physically care for a loved one to the extent you are comfortable with including (in most provinces) self-transportation. There is lots of time to grieve, give praise/celebrate the person's life and let go when you are ready versus being told to. This ancient/new practice can be supported by your funeral director or self-planned and managed by family and friends. The feedback is they are satisfying, and effective in meeting deeper human needs; however home funerals are not for everyone.
History The first Home Funeral Practicum took place on Mother's Day 2015 outside Kitchener-Waterloo, ON with a passionate crowd of seventeen. My friend and colleague Kory McGrath of Toronto, and myself, Don Morris wanted to share our knowledge and experience from 33 combined years of commercial funeral directing to encourage and empower you to reclaim family and community-led deathcare.
Throughout 2015 - 2016 the workshop was performed in BC, AB, SK and ON. 2017 got off to a great start with an unusually 'stirring' 10th workshop, in February, on Gabriola Island, BC. June had a 1 day, outdoor Maple Ridge/Vancouver event and August an inspiring presentation (I'm told) before the Victoria Holistic Deathcare Community. In September, 12 men from a Victoria non-denominational church took part in a 'groundbreaking' - haha - weekend training 'off the grid' outside Duncan, BC. The word heard afterwards was... 'transformational'.
In early November '17 I demonstrated at the Vancouver Island Federation of Hospices' "Education Day" in Parksville - it was well received. On November 18-19th we had a powerful and peaceful two day, home vigil training in Victoria where my former student, now HFP facilitator Valerie Elliott, joined me/us (for the first time) and oh she was superb! A big gift was the 'refined' self care, breathwork and 'first class' yoga facilitation by Leigh Anne Milne Can you believe such good fortune, eh? I do, because we're in synch with the power of love.
2018 built off the past 3 years' successes. We presented on Salt Spring Island, BC, Tatamagouche NS, Wakefield QC and Elora ON (where we had 22 participants). 2019 is filling with trainings in Victoria BC, Brussels ON, Seachelt/Gibsons BC, and Winnipeg, and it is only January! Wow, I gotta take a deep breath. Please know to offer you this training, travel around our good, beautiful country is a big privilege, a joy, and an honour.
Why Home Funeral Vigils? Why? Because In Kory's words, “caring for our own has the possibility to transform our discomfort with death, to experience loving kindness, and to act in a way that is humanistic.” I totally agree... and know hands-on participation with death helps us grieve more deeply, love more richly and heal more rapidly from loss. Caring for our own/each-other in death enhances our potential to live with less anxiety, be more present/alive in the moment, and strengthens our connection to self, others, the earth and the mysterious Source of Life. Come join us inside this transformational human training. It's part of a social and cultural revolution that's going on! Yeah, it's going on...