28. Aug, 2017

Sending them on their way.

Dressing the dead is a perfectly normal and natural part of the death care process. People have been dressing their dead for thousands of years. It happens routinely on a daily basis in almost every funeral home in the world. This process used to be performed by families. Where they would wash and dress or shroud the deceased in perpetration for burial. This does not seem to happen as much as it used to anymore. Instead we employ professional undertakers to do it for us. There nothing wrong with that of course but it does highlight how afraid we have become of death and how aware we are of our own mortalities. 

Occasionally when I attend a first call the deceased will have been washed and dressed by either the family or members of the care home staff which I just thing is a beautiful and caring thing to do. It shows that compassion is still there even after death. In the past family members have come to the funeral home and washed, dressed and help prepare their loved ones. I've had granddaughters do their grandmothers hair and make up, mothers dress their sons and groups of men who will gather together to prepare and elder of their community for their journey into the afterlife. 

It is very humbling to be a part of this process as it is such an intimate part of the death care process. To dress and prepare someone in the privacy of the funeral home prep room with a colleague is a duty that I take great pride and care in. But to be asked by a family to help them prepare their loved one for their funeral, that is truly special.