A. ADVANCE HEALTH CARE/DEATH CARE PLANNING
Accompanying the Dying: a Practical Guide and Awareness Training, by Deanna Cochran, R.N., hospice and palliative care nurse and end-of-life educator in Austin, TX. A range of services from 15-minute phone or Skype brainstorming to a 3-month professional Practical Guide and Awareness Training. See also www.aGentleGuide.com.
Communicating End-of-Life Care Wishes, Georgetown University guide to help individuals with terminal conditions communicate end-of-life decisions to their family and clinicians. This comprehensive resource includes a list of questions patients can ask physicians and a PDF worksheet. Nursing@Georgetown, the online MSN program from the School of Nursing & Health Studies.
Choices: free downloadable booklet from Minnesota Department of Health with legal and practical information on the final disposition of a body.
Consider the Conversation, a 60-minute documentary on the American struggle with communication and preparation at life’s end. Multiple interviews with patients, family members, doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers and national experts like Ira Byock and Susan Dolan.
The Conversation Project, founded by journalist Ellen Goodman, provides a starter kit for starting conversations with loved ones about final wishes.
End of Life Planning Checklist explains the difference between wills, living wills, and advanced directives. Recommends making a list of accounts, passwords, recurring payments, deeds, etc. Remains management and funeral planning are also covered.
Five Wishes advance health care directive is legal in 41 states. Free download at Aging with Dignity.
Funeral Consumer’s Alliance of Minnesota, founded in 1942, affiliated with the national Funeral Consumers Alliance. Offers education and advocacy concerning after-death care and encourages pre-planning to help assure meaningful and affordable choices. Offers a free 2-page After Death Arrangements form.
GYST (formerly “Get Your Shit Together”): A great site for organizing the things your loved ones will need after your death.
GoWish – A deck of 36 cards to help clarify end-of-life values. In English and Spanish. Can be played online or with actual cards.
Green Burial Council Planning Guide: a worksheet for planning and facilitating a green funeral, a supplement to other end of life planning.
Honoring Choices Minnesota, from the Twin Cities Medical Society and Twin Cities Public Television, encourages families to have discussions regarding end-of-life care choices. Excellent videos at http://www.honoringchoices.org/tools-resources/videos/english
Honoring Choices Minnesota Health Care Directive is an advance health care directive specifying your wishes and naming an agent to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. The form can specify whether this agent has the power to make decisions about the care of your body after death. A newly available short form is a quick document to answer basic medical and agent questions. Free download of either version at http://www.honoringchoices.org/health-care-directives/english-directives/17-healthcare-directive-large-type-short-form/file
Physician-Ordered Life-Sustaining Treatment Paradigm (POLST): POLST documents are a new way of approaching end-of-life medical decisions. They are aimed at people who have received a terminal diagnosis and are filled out in conversation between patient, health care agent, and health care provider, so that all parties understand how the patient’s life values will influence their desires for EOL care.
The Letter Project: A project of Stanford University School of Medicine, The Letter Project’s goal is to help adults at all stages of life write a letter to their health care providers (MTN note: and loved ones, too!) outlining their life values and EOL desires.
My Final Wishes (pre-planning booklet) published by the Threshold Care Circle in Viroqua, WI, is a fill-in-the-blank workbook to record preferences for end of life and afterward. It includes wishes for funeral, burial and memorial services; information for your death certificate and obituary; and the location of papers needed to handle your estate as well as phone numbers of important people to call.
OktoDie.com, tied to the book by Monica Williams-Murphy, MD. and Kristian Murphy, It’s Okay to Die, has POLST forms and other tools, including the valuable new Personal Self-Assessment Scale (PSAS), allowing one to define ahead of time when to accept or forego specific medical interventions at each stage of decline of health.
B. FAMILY-DIRECTED VIGILS/HOME FUNERALS
1. Articles: (Family-Directed Vigils/Home Funerals)
Alexander, Max, “The Surprising Satisfactions of a Home Funeral,” Smithsonian, March 2009.
“DIY Death: Natural, At-Home Funerals And Their Boomer Appeal.” November 22, 2013. http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2013/11/diy-death-natural-home-funerals
Natural Transitions Magazine: articles, stories, and photos on conscious, holistic, and eco-friendly approaches to end of life, including family-directed after-death care.
“Who Owns the Dead? Owns the Dead?” featuring Elizabeth Knox, founder of Crossings: Caring for Our Own. New Republic, June 24, 2015. https://newrepublic.com/article/122130/who-owns-dead
Zezima, Katie, “Home Burials Offer an Intimate Alternative,” New York Times, July 20, 2009.
2. Books: (Family-Directed Vigils/Home Funerals)
Alison’s Gift: The Song of a Thousand Hearts Opening by Pat Hogan (NOSILA Publishing, 1999). The true story of seven-year-old Alison, rendered brain dead in a car accident. Her mother, Beth Knox, cared for her body during a home vigil and went on to found Crossings: Caring for Our Own at Death. Book available at crossings.net.
Caring for the Dead: Your Final Acts of Love: A Complete Guide for Those Making Funeral Arrangements With or Without a Funeral Director. Lisa Carlson. Upper Access Publishers, 1998. The original comprehensive guide for funeral issues.
Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death, Joshua Slocum and Lisa Carlson, Upper Access Press, 2011 www.funerals.org/ The new comprehensive guide for funeral issues with state-by-state requirements.
Handbook for Creating a Home Funeral, JerriLyons & JanelleVan Melvin, 1998. finalpassages.org
Laughing in a Waterfall: A Mother’s Memoir. Marianne Dietzel, Laughing Bridge Publishing, 2010
Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond. Nancy Manahan & Becky Bohan, Beaver’s Pond Press, 2007 nanbec.com
Living Into Dying: A Journal of Spiritual and Practical Deathcare for Family and Community. Nancy Jewell Poer, White Feather Publishing, 2002 nancyjewelpoer.com
Resource Guide: A Manual for Home Funeral Care. Elizabeth Knox Free download at crossings.net
Undertaken With Love: A Home Funeral Guide for Congregations and Communities Free download at http://undertakenwithlove.org/?page_id=104
3. Films: (Family-Directed Vigils/Home Funerals)
Art of Natural Death Care, a 28-minute showing families caring for loved ones after death. https://vimeo.com/220346382
A Family Undertaking, a full-length PBS documentary on the growing home funeral movement follows several American families as they forgo a typical mortuary funeral to care for their loved ones at home. Film clip at PBS.org. On Netflix.
The Most Excellent Dying of Theodore Jack Heckelman, a full-length documentary about the conscious dying and home funeral of the filmmaker’s brother, an environmentalist. See a clip of the film at IMDb.
Passing Through Our Hands: A Home Funeral Guide, home funeral educator Donna Belk’s video guide for after-death care of a body.
4. Internet: (Family-Directed Vigils/Home Funerals)
“End-of-life Choices: Through History,” Twin Cities Public Television’s 26-minute documentary featuring Minnesota Threshold Network members.”
Home Funeral Directory, natural after-death care and green funeral options
Home funerals and green burials, a 9-minute YouTube excerpt of a 2012 presentation by Minnesota Threshold Network members Heather Halen and Julie Tinberg.
How-To Manuals: Step by step home funeral guides and manuals from the National Home Funeral Alliance
Preparing to Die: website on funeral planning, including green funerals.
5. Organizations: (Family-Directed Vigils/Home Funerals)
Beholding the Threshold: education and support for conscious dying, home vigils, and family-directed funerals. Stories, photos of home funerals, and practical information on how to care for those who have died.
Crossings: Caring for Our Own at Death: education and inspiration to families for better experiences in after-death care, with or without a funeral director, and for exercising choices that will bring about greater healing. Offers a 37-page step-by-step resource guide for a home funeral as a $25 booklet or as a free PDF download.
Funeral Consumers Alliance: national watchdog and educational organization for home funerals and ethical practices in the funeral industry.
Funeral Consumers Alliance of Minnesota: an independent, non-sectarian, tax-exempt source of information about after-death arrangements that advocates for consumer protection through education, legislation, and direct action. FCA MN maintains a tremendously helpful general price survey for Twin Cities area funeral service providers.
Funeral Ethics Organization: national organization working against exploitation of consumers making funeral purchases.
Minnesota Coalition for Death Education and Support: promotes and provides education, opportunities for networking, and support to professionals and volunteers involved in the care of persons confronting death and bereavement.
Minnesota Funeral Planning: with links to vendors around the state.
Minnesota Threshold Network: Advocating family-directed after-death care, including home vigils and green burial choices.
Morning Star Singers: a group of volunteer singers who offer songs of healing and comfort to those struggling with living or dying. The group sings for free at hospices, hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes within the Twin Cities. www.morningstarsingers.org
National Home Funeral Alliance: educating families about end-of-life choices, including natural death care and home funerals.
Order of the Good Death: Founded in 2011 by Caitlin Doughty, a Los Angeles mortician. Funeral professionals, academics, and artists advocating accepting that “death itself is natural, but the death anxiety and terror of modern culture are not.”
Southeast Minnesota Threshold Network: Rochester area chapter of Minnesota Threshold Network, advocating family-directed after-death care, including home vigils and green burial choices.
C. GREEN BURIAL, ECOLOGICAL FINAL DISPOSITION
Carolyn Laine, MN State Representative, 33-minute You Tube presentation, “Green Burials, Options for After-Death Care.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZKy2xo2g8w
Choices: free downloadable booklet from Minnesota Department of Health with legal and practical information on the final disposition of a body.
Dying Green, a 26-minute documentary about natural burial and land conservation, set in the Appalachians. Dr. Billy Campbell’s dream is to conserve one million acres of land, using our own death to create wildlife preserves. Two copies available at Hennepin Co. Library.
Eloise Woods Community Natural Burial Park, a green cemetery in Cedar Creek Texas. Ellen Macdonald, Manager.
“Flameless Cremation,” a chemical process of reducing a body to its basic elements using alkaline hydrolysis. Bradshaw Funeral and Cremation Services in Stillwater, MN, offers the first commercial unit in the Midwest. TV news story, newspaper article or YouTube video
Going Out Green: One Man’s Adventure Planning His Own Burial. Bob Butz, Spirituality & Health, 2009
Green Burial Council, nonprofit organization working for environmentally sustainable death care. Certifies mortuaries, cemeteries, and providers.
Green Burial Movement: www.brownedocs.com/the-green-burial-movement
TED-X Talk on Conservation Burial, “Saving One Million Acres for Two Thousand Years” by Billy Campbell, MD, founder of Ramsey Creek Preserve, the first green cemetery in the US.
A Will for the Woods, full-length documentary about a dying physician’s wish for a green burial that led a cemetery to turn a wooded section slated to be cleared for conventional graves into a natural burial site. Profiles the US green burial movement. See a trailer here
D. ECO-FRIENDLY CEMETERIES & FUNERAL SUPPLIES
Affordable Coffins & Artery offers sturdy, dignified, custom, and hand-crafted coffins, using green materials. 595 N. Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, 55104. email@example.com; 651-208-6902
Duluth Casket Shop sells custom hand-crafted casket and cremains boxes from native local woods. Duluth, MN,, 218-728-2384
Final Foootprint: Eco-caskets and natural burials. Half Moon Bay, California. 650-726-5255
Quiet Waters Casket Co. Hand-crafted pine boxes and urns made in Alexandria, MN. 320-815-3861
Waconia Casket Company, solid wood caskets for direct sale to the public. For green burials, caskets can be made with no metal parts. Waconia, MN
2. Green Cemetery Options in the Twin Cities Metro Area
Hazelwood Lutheran Cemetery, 3962 Hazelwood Ave., Webster, Mn.55088. Burials without casket or vault are permitted in existing plots. Lee Topp, president, 612-702-6127
Mound Cemetery of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota’s first hybrid green burial ground certified by the Green Burial Council. Brooklyn Center, MN, 952-935-0954. firstname.lastname@example.org. Charges a maintenance fee for vaultless burials.
Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Gardens, Minnesota’s first natural burial ground, Inver Grove Heights, MN, 651-300-9549. Prairie Oaks is featured in the February 2014 Natural Awakenings Magazine with a graphic illustrating the main differences between a conventional burial and a green burial. www.natwincities.com/Twin-Cities/February-2014/Prairie-Oaks-Memorial-Eco-Gardens-Offers-Green-Burials.
Resurrection Cemetery, 2105 Lexington Avenue South • Mendota Heights, MN, 651-228-9991. The just-under two-acre site is currently undeveloped. As the gravesites become occupied, native perennial flowers will be replanted to grow on top of the graves. Eventually, the natural burial area will resemble an uninterrupted prairie. Rather than placing individual headstones or grave markers, the name of the deceased, along with birth and death years, will be listed on a permanent monument.
Roselawn Cemetery, non-sectarian hybrid burial ground, 803 W. Larpenteur Ave. Roseville, MN. 651-489-1720. Charges a maintenance fee for vaultless burials.
E. SUPPORTIVE FUNERAL HOMES
Crescent Tide Funeral & Cremation, 764 Transfer Rd, St. Paul, MN 55114, 651-315-8214. Funeral director Verlin Stoll and funeral pre-arranger Lisa Stoll provide low-cost funerals and cremations.
Gill Brothers Funeral Home, 5801 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55419, 612-861-6088.
Thomson-Dougherty Funeral Home, 2535 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404, 612-871-4407. Funeral director Mike Dougherty welcomes vigils and funerals with unembalmed bodies.
Twin Cities Cremation, 1598 Carroll Ave., St. Paul, MN, 55104, 651-645-1233. Funeral Directors Robert McAdams, Robert Haliburton, and Ben Dibble offer more affordable cremation and funerals.
Willwerscheid Natural Burial and Cremation, 1167 Grand Avenue, St Paul, MN, 651.457.7938 . Funeral director and MTN member Steve Willwerscheid offers eco-friendly visitations, funerals, and final disposition options.
F. SOCIAL AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
Death Cafe Twin Cities: a not-for-profit social franchise and international movement to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”
Death Over Dinner: not exactly an organization, but an opportunity for interested people to gather friends and family over dinner and discuss end-of-life planning and other death-related issues.