Information gives choice
In Scotland it is legal to keep someone at home who has died, arrange burial or cremation yourself, buy a coffin, transport someone in your own vehicle and bury someone on your own land.
In Scotland you can nominate who you want to arrange your funeral. If you don't do this, then there is a legal heirarchy of who can do it - with partner/spouse before children. You can give guidance as to what you want them to do but they are not legally obliged to do it. The clauses in a Will relating to funeral wishes are not legally binding either.
Decisions to be made
Your first decision is usually whether to keep someone in your care after they die, or whether to employ a funeral director to take the person into their care.
The other decisions are between burial or cremation, whether to have a ceremony or service and whether it will be at the same time /place as the burial or cremation.
Remember that you are the expert on what's best for you and those close to you. Take time to listen to the options available and discern what's right for you.
Get savvy about your options now so that you are ready to care for yourself and your loved ones – in body and soul – after their last breath.
Pushing Up The Daisies is a Scottish charity here to help.
In the days between death and burial or cremation, people have the option to care for someone after their last breath. Not much more than 60 years ago, this was the usual way. However, in our current society this often takes courage since it is not “the norm” and most people have lost the knowledge about how to do it.
Caring for someone yourself, even for 24 hours immediately after their last breath, can give you a breathing space to get advice and decide on the next steps eg appointing a funeral director with an approach and cost that suits you.
It is not always possible to arrange things in advance, and not always necessary.
Whilst your intuition and common sense will guide you, there are a few advance preparations which are worth considering to smooth the journey and minimise the surprises along the way.
It gives a chance to think about who may do what which can be helpful too.
Doing it Yourself ?
Whilst it is legal and possible to do everything yourself we would caution against it unless you are well prepared in advance or you have previous experience.
Whilst having some gentle activity and focus can be helpful in the days after someone's last breath, it is easy to get busy and distracted from your feelings. This usually does not serve you in the longer term.
You can get assistance from ourselves or a funeral director - or perhaps from someone in your community with experience.
Music for release and comfort
In life, music is all around us, in the howling of the wind, the gurgling of the stream or the gentle cooing of the dove. The sound of the voice of a loved one is stored in our memory and lingers long after physical presence is gone.
Music can serve to help us to release the raw suffering of grief. It also offers comfort so that we can slowly begin to find equilibrium and balance and regain a sense of peace. In many world cultures, howling and wailing are an intrinsic part of mourning . Song and story can also bring integration and healing and make way for celebration of a life well lived.