Rep. Carolyn Laine and Nancy Manahan gave a presentation at Two Harbors Public Library on September 26, 2013, about home funerals and green burials. The event drew an attentive audience of 40 people who had many questions. The Lake County News Chronicle published an article featuring Carolyn and Nancy: http://www.twoharborsmn.com/event/article/id/25443/. It is clear that interest in green burials is growing.
The next day, Carolyn, Nancy, and Becky Bohan visited the Duluth Casket Shop at the invitation of the proprietor Jude Collins, who makes a range of caskets and urns, some appropriate for green burials. She also offers handmade shrouds, one which can been seen hanging on the wall behind Nancy and Jude. Jude does education on natural burial and is encouraging owners of Duluth cemeteries to accommodate green burials. For more information about her company, see www.duluthcasketshopmn.com.
We had an exciting meeting with lots of energy from the fifteen people attending. Now that Home Care of Our Deceased legislation has passed, the group focused on the next steps. Solid plans for the summer and fall emerged:
- Hold a Public Forum on June 29, 2010. This gathering will feature State Representative Carolyn Laine discussing the new law; Linda Bergh and Heather Halen will share information about doing home care of the deceased, home visitations, and home funerals; Theresa Purcell will share information about green burials. Nancy Manahan will be the MC. The event will take place at Washburn Public Library 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
- Support the Minnesota Department of Health in creating a brochure. The DoH is planning to put out a brochure on how to care for the dead at home and how to have a home vigil/funeral. Rep. Carolyn Laine has suggested that the MTN help with this project. Nancy will provide resources that the department can use as it writes the brochure. We hope that the brochure will be available by August 1, when the law goes into effect.
- Identify supportive funeral directors. Theresa Purcell, president of the Minnesota chapter of Trust for Natural Legacies, with help from Julie Tinberg, will be meeting with funeral directors in the area to discuss their support for home care of the deceased, home vigils/funerals, and green burials. Theresa will compile the information and make it available to MTN.
- Identify and list death care guides. More and more people are seeking information on what to do when someone dies and they want an alternative to conventional death-care practices. Linda Bergh has a list of people who are willing to be on call to help a family through the process of caring for their own. She will contact those people to see if they are willing to be listed on the MTN blog as resources.
- Screen a film. We talked about showing the new documentary about Linda Bergh’s husband, “The Most Excellent Dying of Theodore Jack Heckelman” in August to continue educating ourselves and the public. Theresa will see if it can be screened at Trylon Cinema, a 50-seat theater at 3258 Minnehaha Ave So. After the movie, we could talk about the work of MTN and announce plans for upcoming workshops.
- Educate! Educate! Educate!. Education will be a major focus of MTN. Linda Bergh, Heather Halen, Becky Bohan, Nancy Manahan, and others have expressed interest in being involved. Given the work of hospice and the availability of training that deals with caring for the dying, MTN would focus its training on after-death care in three categories:
- MTN members. Training would focus on after-death care, and if time, planning for death, including Five Wishes, Physician Ordered Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), or equivalent documents. It would be open to the 100+ people on the MTN email list. Part of this training could involve train-the-trainer so MTN would have a bank of presenters. The first session will be on Sept. 11, 2010. Karen Greer will see if space at the Spirit United building is available that day.
- Professionals. Training would focus on hospice staff (what happens AFTER someone dies), coroners and medical examiners, nursing home staff, ministers, parish nurses, etc. One aspect of this training would be to emphasize the rights that families have when a loved one dies. Nancy will contact Charlene Elderkin who is doing a presentation at the Wisconsin coroners and medical examiners convention in to see what materials she is using that could be incorporated into our training. Linda, Heather, and Lisa Venable will investigate offering CEUs for this training.
- Education for the general public. This training would include presentations at churches, libraries, and other public venues. These sessions could focus on Advanced Care and Advanced Funeral Directives, POLST, planning for a death, home after-death care, working with funeral directors, vigils and visitations, and green burials.
Minutes prepared by Becky Bohan.
On April 15, 2010 the Minnesota State Senate passed by a big margin (50 to 13) the Home Care of Our Deceased bill (HF3151) which supports home-based after-death care. The bill will now go to the Governor for signature.
What does this mean?
• Families can hold a public visitation on private property without embalming for up to four days
• Minors are no longer prohibited from being in the presence of an unembalmed body
• Safe, appropriate transportation options for the body are broadened
Special thanks to some key players:
• Representative Carolyn Laine who championed this bill and spent many hours working out the details for a smooth passage. Her diligence and deep understanding of the issues involved were impressive.
• Senator Sandra Pappas for sponsoring the bill in the Senate and her eloquence in speaking to the committee and defending the bill on the Senate floor.
• Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center of Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the U of M, whose testimony before both the House and Senate committees and subsequent letter to legislators gave a strong scientific foundation for the public health safety of funerals with unembalmed bodies.
Finally, many thanks to all of you for your support. Writing and calling your representatives made a big difference in the overwhelming votes in favor of these changes in both the House and the Senate.
Pictured below after the first Senate vote on April 12, front row from left to right: Nancy Manahan, Senator Sandy Pappas, Reprsentative Carolyn Laine, Michelle Dehn; backrow: Marianne Dietzel, Becky Bohan Heather Halen