Death Midwifery and Home Funerals
By Cassandra Yonder
This piece is an excerpt from the upcoming book: Journey’s End: Death, Dying, and the End of Life, written, compiled, and edited by Victoria Brewster, MSW and Julie Saeger Nierenberg, MA Ed with an anticipated release date of Spring 2015.
A social movement has arisen in response to the cultural alienation we feel from death and dying. As the sick and dying members of our families and communities are institutionalized, death itself is “medicalized,” and post-death care is undertaken by strangers outside our homes. Indeed, we have come to recognize ourselves as a death-denying society.
Just as the slow food movement brings communities back in touch with the production and distribution of their own food in a small, local, familiar market, and birth midwifery empowers women to reclaim the labour and delivery of their own babies, death midwifery reminds us how to be present for those who are at the end of life and how to care for our own dead.
One might even say that death midwifery is to palliative care as the slow food movement is to large-scale agriculture and as birth midwifery is to obstetrics….
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