My father’s death was my first experience of serving as a home funeral guide – I just didn’t know it at the time. In fact, what was missing at the time of his death has been one of my greatest teachers.
My father was super fit and healthy, in his early 60s, when he was diagnosed with an aggressive and nearly-always terminal form of brain cancer. He had a six-month prognosis but ended up living for 18 months. I joined my step-mother in caring for him at home, with the support of hospice. Once he exhaled for the last time, strangers arrived with a gurney, zipped him into a body bag, and drove him off for a direct cremation. A few weeks later I was given a portion of his remains and some of the artifacts of his life. Not only was there nothing you would call a home funeral; there was no funeral at all, no memorial. He didn’t want one, I was told – and that was pretty much the end of the story.
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