Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Workshop encourages family-led funerals

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Death comes to us all but what happens when our life nears its end doesn't have to be scary taboo subject, say two well-known advocates of family-led funerals.

On Friday in a Waipuna Hospice first the charity is hosting a After-Death Care Workshop aimed at helping people to become more funeral literate.

The workshop is being led by UK-born Claire Turnham, who described herself as a 'home funeral guide', supported by Wellington-based Gail McJorrow, who is the author of NZ best-selling book 'Better Send Off - The Ultimate Funeral Guide'.

Ms Turnham, currently touring the country, said one of the main themes of the workshop was to help empower people with the knowledge they needed about the after-death care options open to them.

That included the option of family-led home funerals.

Ms Turnham, who is founder of the 'Only With Love' Foundation - a community trust committed to encouraging people to talk openly about death, and consider family-led funerals either at home or at a place of personal significance to them.

"A family-led funeral can be very empowering and healing and it's an amazing way of assisting with the grieving process for the dying person and their loved ones," she said.

Mrs McJorrow said she was a huge advocate of individuals and families planning funerals in advance, or at least starting to talk what they might like when it came to their funeral and sharing those wishes with loved ones.

"The most memorable funerals are definitely those where you are left with a real sense the person's life is being celebrated, and instead of their death simply being mourned."

Mrs McJorrow said when she began researching the funeral industry she noted there was a growing trend of people wanting to participate in their own funeral rather being bystanders.

"I felt it was important so I created a one-stop shop/guide for people and set about doing so."

Mrs McJorrow's said her website, which was a companion to her book, which went live in August 2014, attracted more than 200 on-line hits a day.

"I rather feel I have let the genie out of the bottle but I'm loving it as from experience I truly believe a good send off helps immensely with the grieving and healing process/"

Mrs McJorrow said the workshop was also aimed to helping dispel many of the myths around this often taboo subject.

Waipuna Hospice chief executive Richard Thurlow said a person's imminent death was often the hardest thing for families to talk about, but having the conversation early on in the process helped lessen the stress and trauma for all those involved.

"We like to think that people can have a conversation about end of life care and funeral preparations early so there are no surprises, and it means there are no tough calls, or possible family fallouts," he said.

A recent similar workshop at Warkworth Hospice attracted 80 participants, and there is also a waiting list from more babyboomers wanting to become funeral literate.

Contacts to register your interest in the workshop

Anyone keen to attend the After-Death-Care Workshop email Claire at clairelouiseturnham@gmail.com or Gail McJorrow at gail@bettersendoff.co.nz.
To check out the two presenters websites click here.
To find out more about Gail McJorrow visit her website.
Alternatively phone Waipuna Hospice on 07 552 4380.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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