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“Howard’s End” by Vera Morgan

On a regular basis I find myself humbled by the clients I work with and in awe of how openly they welcome me into their world while they are grieving the death of a loved one. From time to time, those connections are even greater, leaving me with a feeling that I’m working with close friends or even family.  I recently experienced this with while working with the Morgan family as we planned a green burial and Celebration of Life service for Howard, beloved husband, father, grandfather, friend and mentor to many.

Below is a letter that Mr. Morgan’s wife, Vera, wrote. Not only are her words inspiring, but everything about the way Vera has journeyed down the path as her husband ailed and finally died is inspiring. She is a wonderful example of someone who has embraced the reality of death and provides strength, support and encouragement to others who struggle with that reality.

In Vera’s words:

“I had the privilege of being able to plan my husband’s death and funeral service with him. He was diagnosed with a terminal disease some six months prior to his demise. This gave us time to think about and discuss what we both wanted for him.

He hated the hospital, all the strange noises and goings on over which he had no control. So we decided that, if at all possible, we would keep him at home. We discussed this with our GP and she referred us to the Palliative Care Team in our area. The Home Care nurses came to our home and ministered to him, as required, with a loving compassion that was wonderful to behold! The palliative care doctor gave me a form, “Notification of Expected Death in the Home” and informed me that I would have make arrangements with a funeral home as it would be them that picked up the body.

Some months earlier I had heard of Green Burials. I was very interested in this as it is now fairly common knowledge that crematoriums do produce significant emissions. My husband and I had discussed this and he also liked the idea of being as environmentally friendly as possible. So the search began. I checked our local funeral home but our municipality does not provide this option. We went on line and looked at several web sites. The one that struck me as being the most environmentally friendly was Classic Cremation & Funeral Services Inc. My daughter called and was put in touch with Ngaio Davis. We had a meeting with Ngaio and were very impressed with the fact that this was about what WE wanted! Ngaio explained the options available to us. We could have a bio-degradable wooden coffin, a wicker coffin or a shroud made of unbleached cotton. She also explained that they would guarantee to pick up the body within two hours of notification. Then she explained that if we preferred we could participate in giving my husband his final bath. I really liked this idea – being able to do this last service for him I felt was a good way to partially say “Thank you” for almost 55 good years together!

As it transpired he breathed his last breath at 2:10 AM. When my daughter asked if we should call Ngaio I thought we could wait until 9:00 AM. When called Ngaio said she would be here within the hour. She brought with her some oils with which we could anoint his body. So under Ngaio’s supervision my daughter and I gave my husband his last bath and rubbed the oil unto his skin. He would be pleased!

Although his breathing was quite laboured at the end it was a calm, peaceful way for his life to end. I feel privileged to have been there to help him on his way.

The burial and the Celebration of Life Service were handled with consummate professionalism and done exactly as we requested.”

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