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OA44 Do it yourself care: from diagnosis to crematorium
  1. Katherine Murray
  1. Life and Death Matters, Canada


Our mum was diagnosed, declined and died over a period of two months and one week.

My siblings gathered from around the globe. We cared for her in her home on a small island off the west coast of British Columbia (Canada). She described this as the richest period of her life.

We shared the care. And her friends, “the walkie-talkies” came to support us and to check in on her. We took time for fresh air. We walked the beaches. A piece of driftwood inspired my brothers to build a coffin. Silk in her studio inspired my sister to create a beautiful shroud. We snuggled with her, talked, sang, reminisced. We listened to her stories. And then in the quiet of the night, she died.

We kept her body at home for a full day. Her friends gathered. Then early the next morning, with government permit to transport her body, we went via ferry, and drove her down Vancouver Island, past the green burial ground that my brother designed to the crematorium.

The next day the bereavement counsellor greeted us, and with warmth and sensitivity introduced us to the staff and the cremator. After a bit of time, we lifted her body into the cremator and pushed the button.

In Canada, the majority of after death care is provided by funeral professionals, but there is a growing interest in the concept of do it yourself care for the body and funerals. The purpose of this presentation is to share a photo journal of this experience, and depending on time allotted, open time for discussion regarding “do it yourself” care.

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