Katelyn LaGrega’s 2017 film, “The Art of Natural Death Care,” from the Sophia Center in North Carolina, shows families caring for their loved ones after death. The 27-minute documentary, which was presented at the 2017 National Home Funeral Alliance conference, includes clips of MTN’s Linda Bergh.
What is old is often new again. Elizabeth Westrate’s A Family Undertaking uncovers a growing social trend: the home funeral movement. More often, Americans are choosing to do it themselves when it comes to burying loved ones and easing their own grief. Far from being a radical innovation, however, keeping funeral rites in the family or among friends is exactly how death was handled for most of pre-twentieth century America.
The showing will take place on Wednesday, November 9 (please note! Wednesday meeting!) at 7 pm, at the home of Anne Murphy, 287 Mount Curve Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55105 (follow link for map). Minnesota Threshold Network meetings are free and open to the public, but donations of the heart are gratefully accepted.
We will have a movie night on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 7 pm, at the home of Kathy Huset, 1811 West Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul (enter through front door, go up two flights of stairs); 651-645-8313. We will be screening Passing Through Our Hands: Home Funeral Care Guide, a documentary on after-death care of the body. Most of us have few opportunities to learn how to care for a body; this short film gives step-by-step instructions on how to do that in a simple, dignified, and loving way.
“Passing Through Our Hands” starts when the person dies and covers how to wash the body, dress and lay out the body, hold a vigil, and move the body into a coffin. It includes a link to guidelines and written instructions in addition to the video training.
For an honest 15-minute TEDx presentation, check out the 2015 “Let’s Talk About Death” by Rochelle Martin, a Canadian crisis-care RN and death midwife.
A recent New Republic in-depth story on family-directed after-death care represents “an unprecedented effort to truly listen to Elizabeth Knox and Merilynne Rush” (home funeral educators in Maryland and Michigan respectively) according to National Home Funeral President Lee Webster.
Who Owns the Dead?
“It was a Sunday in the autumn of 1995, and Rob Sanders was driving his three kids from his house in Baltimore to the house of his ex-wife, Elizabeth Knox, in Silver Spring, Maryland. The kids rotated who got to sit in the front seat, and today was seven-year-old Alison’s turn. The boys wanted to hear the Redskins game, and when Alison leaned forward to fiddle with the radio, Sanders told her to sit back—he would find it.
“When he looked up, the light had turned red, and he braked, belatedly. Skidding into the intersection at about 14 miles an hour, he hit another car, and the passenger-side airbag deployed. The airbag—one of those early models designed to protect a full-sized adult male in a much more violent crash—struck Alison “with the force of a heavyweight boxer,” as Knox would later put it, rendering the girl unconscious and braindead in an instant.”
The Minnesota Threshold Network will host a public screening of A Will for the Woods on Tuesday, October 14. In this green-burial-focused documentary, musician, folk dancer, and psychiatrist Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial, determined that his final resting place will benefit the earth. His passionate wish for a legacy of green burials inspires a profoundly affecting and optimistic portrait of people finding meaning in death. Determined that his last act will not harm the environment and may even help protect it, Clark discovers the movement to further sustainable funerals that conserve natural areas.
Enabling Clark’s wish is green burial pioneer Joe Sehee, who aims to realize this concept’s vast potential by helping define its goals and standards and endeavoring to open the world’s largest conservation burial ground. Moved by Clark’s persistence and relying on Joe’s guidance, local cemetarian Dyanne Matzkevich, though avowedly “not a greenie,” establishes the first natural burial ground in North Carolina. Together she and Clark endeavor to protect the tract of forest adjacent to her conventional cemetery, developing a close bond.Winner of numerous awards!