Mimi Zenzmaierwill discuss do-it-yourself funerals as part of the workshop for Tweed Seniors Festival which kicks off today.
Mimi Zenzmaierwill discuss do-it-yourself funerals as part of the workshop for Tweed Seniors Festival which kicks off today.

DIY FUNERAL: 10 things to know before you go

WITH home renovation shows flickering across our screens most weeks, do-it-yourself projects are as popular as ever.

New kitchens, bathrooms and even weddings are being created in homes across the country each day.

But there's another DIY project just starting to take hold.

DIY and at home funerals are a healthy and empowering way to say goodbye to a loved one, according to End of Life Consultant, Death Doula and Funeral Director at Sacred Earth Funerals Mimi Zenzmaier.

Mimi said DIY funerals were an option for anyone wanting to return to the simpler, cheaper and age-old tradition of family care after death.

"These days people battle with death phobias like never before in history. The pursuit of youth and beauty is so rife because of our current culture of death denial. We need to return to fostering relationship with our mortality, a humility that comes from respecting that life is a gift and does not come with any guarantee of longevity."

She said the beauty of a home funeral was time and space. While death is always devastating, there is some joy in doing it your own way.

"A DIY funeral is empowering, healing and transformational for the family providing a final gift of love to their deceased," she said.

"Historically, the dead have been kept in the presence of loved ones for a very significant reason. We need time and space to adjust to death and when we provide a means for family to have unhindered access to the body, healing occurs."

DIY funerals are just one of the 10 topics that will be covered during a workshop as part of Tweed Seniors Festival this month.

The workshop, named 10 Things to Know Before You Go, will be run by Compassionate Communities Northern NSW (CCNNSW) in collaboration with the Groundswell Project. It's aimed at inviting all residents to start thinking about the realities of death and will feature Mimi as one of its speakers.

CCNNSW is a group of volunteers who support end of life care through compassion, empathy and practical advice.

Group member Bronwyn Hodgins said it was important for all community members to put plans in place for the end of life. She said there was no need to fear death, but there was a great need to plan for it.

"We will all die eventually, however, many without a plan. This leads to increased distress for the dying and their relatives. CCNNSW aims to support and educate our community during dying, death, grief and loss," she said.

Bronwyn said less than 5 per cent per cent of people have a plan for their end of life, but those who do are more comfortable with the concept.

"Health care professionals usually die differently because they are well informed and see the benefits of making end of life wishes known to others. They tend to have less interventions and die at home," she said.

Bookings are essential for the CCNNSW and The Groundswell Project's workshop, which will run from 1pm to 4pm on Tuesday, February 18. Call (02) 66702435 or email cemeteries@tweed.nsw.gov.au.

Compassionate Communities Northern NSW is working on a range of projects, including regular coffee and community mornings, threshold choir, walking in nature activities and doula training. For more information visit the Compassionate Communities Northern NSW Facebook page or email comcommnsw@gmail.com.

 

10 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

 

1. Less than 5 per cent of people have a plan for their End of Life.

2. 45 per cent of us will die without a will.

3. Of those who know they are dying, only 25 per cent will have spoken to their families about their wishes.

4. 70 per cent of deaths are expected.

5. Doctors die differently

6. Early referral to palliative care means living longer with better quality of life.

7. Almost half of us would like to know more about DIY funerals.

8. 60 per cent of Australian choose cremation. Have you considered the alternatives?

9. We don't grieve in stages, and only about 10 per cent of us need professional support after death.

10. 60 per cent think we don't talk about death enough.