Course Outline

Here's what you'll learn

I. Introduction

  • History of funeral/body care in US (how we got to where we are)
  • What is a Home Funeral Guide?


II. Legalities/regulation

  • Limits to the role/what you can be paid for
  • Law vs. common practice
  • Designating a funeral representative
  • Next of kin
  • Review DPOA limitations
  • State-by-state overview, resources
  • Release of body
  • Paperwork
  • Obstacles/challenges
  • Working well with others/making allies, forming positive relationships, community connections
  • Understanding industry perspective

 

III. Benefits of caring for the body of your loved one

  • Photo essay
  • Personal testimonials/stories

 

IV. Consultations

  • Who will be involved
  • Where to get supplies
  • Supplies list/usage
  • Casket
  • Dry ice
  • To-do list
  • Flexibility, boundaries, expectations, vigilance
  • Blended funeral approach
  • Children

 

V. Body care

  • Essential elements of caring for the body
  • What to do immediately when death occurs
  • Washing
  • Dressing
  • Cooling
  • Moving
  • Casketing/shrouding
  • Laying out
  • Decorating/adorning

 

VI. Ritual

  • Cultural/spiritual/religious humility
  • Experiential wisdom
  • Implicit bias/understanding yourself
  • Vigil
  • What is a funeral exactly?
  • Types of ritual and ceremony
  • Mourning as a community

 

VII. Anatomical donation and home funeral

  • Organ donation
  • Tissue donation
  • Whole body donation


VIII. Special circumstances

  • Use caution
  • Home Funeral may not be possible
  • Home Funeral is not possible


IX. Case studies & Practice issues

  • How to talk about money
  • Set up payment
  • Review what you can be paid for, how to do invoice
  • How will people find you?
  • Will you be on-call?
  • Marketing (website, FB page, directories, etc.)
  • Public education/community presentation/getting the word out
  • Common questions/fears
  • Create a local circle of support

 

X. Resources

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Websites
  • Organizations
  • Books
  • Articles

 

XI. Activities

  • Create your own forms and lists (supplies, to-do, resources, etc.)
  • Visit funeral home
  • General price list review and understanding
  • Examine your own preferences
  • Discuss preferences with someone
  • Write up history/example of funeral care in another culture
  • What are your own goals/what are you going to do with this knowledge
  • What fears do you have/obstacles you perceive


XI. National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) Proficiency Badge Prep

  • What is the Proficiency Badge
  • Testing strategies
  • Discussion

Your Instructor & Mentor

MSHP, RN, BSN​

Merilynne Rush

Merilynne Rush has been working with families in transition since 1980. In addition to being a midwife, she has been a hospice nurse, a companion caregiver, home funeral guide, and health-care volunteer in India, Nicaragua, and West Africa. Merilynne has an MS in Hospice and Palliative Studies and a Nurse Educator Certificate from Madonna University, a BS in Nursing from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Humanities and Women's Studies from Michigan State University. She is a Certified Respecting Choices® First Steps Advance Care Planning Instructor. In service to nonprofit organizations, she was president of the National End-of-life Doula Alliance (NEDA) from its founding in 2018 to October, 2020, is a founding member of the NHPCO End-of-life Doula Council and current vice-chair, and served on the board of directors of the Green Burial Council, the National Home Funeral Alliance, Michigan Doula Connection, Washtenaw Health Initiative Advance Care Planning Committee, and the Michigan Midwives Association. Merilynne received her SageUSA "Caring for LGBT Older Adults" endorsement in 2020. Se habla Espanol.

Not ready for this advanced course?

Here's another offering from Instructor Merilynne Rush

FAQ

  • How does this course work?

    Merilynne Rush will be your mentor, teacher, and guide for twelve weeks. Videos, readings, and exercises are pre-recorded - you can work through them on your own time, at your own pace. Merilynne will answer questions on the discussion boards every day, and once a week she will host a live, optional, office hours on Zoom. That's where you can chat and build relationships more informally.

  • What if I can't make the live parts of the class?

    That's OK. Office hours are completely optional. We expect you'll make it when you can, but it's not a required part of the class.

  • Can I get a certificate of completion?

    Yes, we'll offer a learning check at the end of the presentation so you can get a certificate of completion.