Bringing Out the Dead, At Home

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Funeral cars lined up on 138th Street in Harlem. (Stephen/WNYC)

Death is painfully human, strangely ordinary, and universal. It causes us pain, it requires planning, and it requires final decisions. But here in America, in most cases, it doesn't require one thing: personally handling the dead. More often than not, we leave that to professionals.

But more and more often, Americans are deciding to do things differently. After death, but before the final goodbye, they are handling those final moments with their loved ones' bodies by themselves, with love and care in their own homes.

Alice Forrester is one of those people. In 2011, her teenage son died unexpectedly and she chose to bring his body home and prepare it herself, for his final resting.

And Heather Massey works with the National Home Funeral Alliance, helping families prepare their loved ones for the final goodbye.


Alice Forrester and Heather Massey

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Kristen Meinzer

Comments [1]

judy jubb from portland oregon

when my father died back in january of '05, it was the first time i really saw death up close and personal as they say...seeing him minutes after his last breathe...feeling his body while it was still warm...talking to him...holding his hand...taking a picture of our hands holding because his hand was my hand...wrinkly knuckles that i inherited. then i knew that i would be with him as he went into the furnace...kissing him goodbye..pushing him in closing the door pushing the button...listening to the furnace amazing experience...after a few minutes i left the building and as i drove away there in front of me was a contrail from a plane. but unlike the way a contrail streaks across the sky this one went straight up. i have never been one to read more into something then what was there, however this time i definitely felt the presence of my father as he soared up and away. never seen a contrail like that since.

when my mother died in march of '08, i did the same thing with her. it just felt right...not weird or icky or scary but something that i needed to contrail though i did look up. now as i think back about those two experiences i can't believe that i actually was able to do it.

Feb. 20 2013 01:58 PM

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