My husband and I watched another Netflix documentary the other night, A Family Undertaking. If you haven’t seen it, it’s another MUST SEE.
The film follows several families as they care for their loved ones during their last days, and prepare their bodies for burial. It isn’t terribly sad (and this is coming from a hormonal, pregnant lady), nor is it gross or disturbing. It was actually very moving.
Contrary to popular belief, a body does not have to be embalmed or preserved or anything before burial. And it is several days before the body begins to break down, so you don’t have to get your loved one in the ground immediately either.
Something else I didn’t know, it’s legal in almost all states to care for your own dead. You will probably need to obtain a permit, each state has it’s own laws, but the majority of us have the choice to keep the body of our dear one and care for it as we wish.
After watching the film, my husband and I both agreed that this was definitely something that we wanted for our family.
“Why?”, you ask? Why keep the body of your dead loved one until burial? Why not just send them to the mortuary to have them deal with it while you mourn?
For us, the decision is based upon love and respect. Funeral homes are so incredibly impersonal, never mind the expense of it all. It is an industry, with trained professionals to oversee it all. Nobody there loved your dear one. Nobody cares how their body is treated. It is their job, plain and simple. No matter how professional they are, they just can’t replace the tender care of a loving family member.
Once you see how a body is sliced and jabbed, drained and “pickled” as they called it in the film, you will think again about how you want your loved ones and yourself to be cared for after death. (It does show this procedure done, but in a very medical, non-gory way.) Especially when you realize that all of it is unnecessary. Your loved one’s body will decompose whether you embalm it or not, why abuse it so horribly after death?
The biggest thing for me is if, dear Lord please have mercy, we were ever faced with having to bury one of our precious children. I cannot even begin to fathom handing over their little body to some group of strangers to be absolutely brutalized. And then to have such a stale, impersonal funeral, all cookie cutter and empty. I wouldn’t hand them over to strangers now, and I wouldn’t in death. No thanks. Not after I’ve spent every day of their lives cherishing and nurturing them. No. Thanks.
Instead, this movie shows you another choice. It shows family members surrounding the body of a loved one who has passed away and is now laying peacefully in their own bed. The family dresses him or her in their burial clothes. They lift them gently into their homemade, hand decorated casket, and the children are allowed to touch the body and speak to it, and are no longer confused about where the deceased one is, or afraid of death. Loved ones can mourn in privacy, for as long as they need, no rushing to get out of the funeral home for the next service.
Some of the families took their loved one to a cemetery to be buried, and some dug a hole on their own land, creating their own family burial site. Personally, I am thankful to have our own land to be buried on, and that’s how we want it. I want to be able to walk out into the field or woods and visit the grave of my precious loved one every day. I don’t want to be restricted by travel or time. And I want us all to be buried next to each other, without having to pre-buy grave sites somewhere.
I am so grateful to those who made this documentary, and shed light on an alternative to what we’ve all assumed was our only option. Like with so many other things, up until now I was completely unaware of what choices I have.
So, I share this with you… not to make you feel bad about decisions you’ve already made, but just to think about future choices you may be faced with one day. Do what is right for you and your family, holding dear to the fact that you don’t have to do what the system and everybody else tells you is “just the way it’s done”.