Death overwhelms us. In the midst of our grief there is suddenly a lot to do, and many decisions to make. Before you rush into anything just breathe – you have more time than you think.
Frequently people think a funeral has to be held within a few days and for some this may be the time frame they need to work within. But for others, haste brings extra stress and anxiety. and you may wish to take anything up to ten days to plan a Great Goodbye. You might need more time if people are gathering from out of town or overseas, or to attend to special details that will make the funeral unique such as booking a special location or arranging particular live music. Don’t feel pressured to rush arrangements – doing so can mean much of what’s deeply personal can be lost.
If you need even longer, you may even hold off a service for weeks and have a memorial event without the casket present. If there has been a cremation you might like to bring the ashes along – there have been some fabulous Great Goodbyes with the urn taking centre stage at proceedings. Whatever approach you take, a memorial service opens up a host of possibilities and frees people up to consider different venues, settings, and time frames.
If you are delaying the service beyond a few days then you will need to consider care of the body until committal. This is either carried out via cooling/refrigeration or embalming.
What is Embalming?
Embalming involves the use of chemicals to delay composition, and is carried out at the funeral home. With increasing awareness of the toxic load it creates, many wish to avoid embalming and take a more earth friendly approach. Embalming is not a black and white decision, and you may wish to consult with your funeral director to discuss your particular situation and wishes. Whatever you decide, ensure your choice is an informed one to avoid having it made by for you by default.
What’s meant by refrigeration?
The funeral director might care for the body at the funeral home in an appropriately cooled facility. Doing this for any length of time may incur additional fees.
If having the body at home, you’ll need to keep the room cool. Portable air conditioners are perfect for this. You might supplement this with ice packs. Rotating chilled hot water bottles work really well.
Other tips for care at home:
An adult diaper or towel around the deceased’s hips is a good idea. If you’re assisted at home with a palliative carer or doula they will help. Burn scented candles. Not only does this bring a certain reverence to the room, it helps to reduce any odours.