Already there has been an increase in end-of-life care happening at home, due to costs and the lack of facilities that can cater to the demand of people needing it. With this trend, there has been a revival in after-death care at home.
Home death-care is relatively unknown in South Africa, but families, friends and mini-communities of people are driving a more family orientated way in after-death care, that is inexpensive, safe and legal. Caring for the body of a departed loved one also offers a more meaningful substitute to conventional mortuary services.
What is home-based death care and why?
Home death care happens in a home instead of a funeral parlour and involves family and/or friends to wash, dress and lay out the body of the deceased.
Home-based death care allows those mourning to hold a vigil and for (extended) family and friends to come say good-bye to the deceased in a familiar and homely setting. This is powerful in allowing family and friends to grieve in their own way and time.
Also, by taking this approach, it allows for all involved to process their loss at their own pace and come to terms with the death. It is also a great expression of love to care for the recently departed, and a time to bond with members of your family. It is a healing and purposeful occasion, as normally during this difficult time you can find yourself feeling useless, but with home-based death care you are part of the experience.
Having the final send off with a formal religious (or not) service in a church, mosque or community hall will bring full circle the caring for the recently departed at home. It is worth noting this is not a drawn-out process and that normal burial or cremation will follow a death within 3 days maximum.
By following through with home-based death care, you can also work through the grief process which is a very important part when dealing with death. As more end-of-life care happens in communities and at family homes, home-based death care is a natural progression in the cycle of life, so why not end it off with having your body taken care of by those you have held dearest while you were alive?