Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag | Page 46

ELLEN MACDONALD 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. 46 | ART OF DYING