Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag | Page 46
disturbances. 100% of the answers were no.
For the last 150 years, it's all been about obscuring the
fact that this person has really died. We're not going to
let you see that there's a hole in the ground; we’re going
to cover it with AstroTurf with a big skirt around an
automated lowering device. Then we’ll cover everything
with flowers and wait until everyone leaves to put the
dead person into the ground like it’s a shameful thing
to do. In Eloise Woods we don't see anything negative
about dirt. Actually lowering your loved one’s body into
the ground, seeing what's happening every step of the
way, makes it easier to heal.
We should let dead people look like dead people.
After sitting with a dead person for a day or so, you
can see the changes. You are genuinely convinced
that that soul, that personality, is not there anymore. It
makes it a lot easier to tuck that person into the earth
and say goodbye. I think it's harder to bury somebody
embalmed to look like they're alive.
In Texas, families are allowed to care for their own
dead. If your person is on hospice care, then that
death is considered “anticipated” by the state. It's not
a medical examiner case. No autopsy is required. You
don't have to call the police. Your first call is to your
hospice nurse, who comes over and pronounces the
death. Then you’re on your own schedule. You don't
have to have strange people rushing into your house
and zipping your loved one into a black plastic bag
and taking them away to who knows where.
They can stay in the bed that they died in. You can wash
and care for them. You can have a vigil for as long as
you want. People can come by and sit with the body.
Sometimes the death can be sudden and traumatic,
and you're not ready to hand that person off and never
see them again. You can pause and see the person at
peace. After a vigil of a day or two, most people are
ready to bury the body. Then the family can transport
the remains to the burial park themselves. Several
families have come to the park with the casket or the
shrouded body in the back of their pickup truck or van.
They can dig the grave and bury the body themselves.
This is very therapeutic, but it takes a team of people,
and it's not easy.
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