Deborah’s Home Death and Vigil 2008


Embracing death with grace, dignity and faith by Lauren Carlson-Vohs (a reflection on Deborah’s passing and vigil from a good friend)

A dear friend’s valiant journey with cancer ended recently. Only in the last days before her passing did she reluctantly let go of her steadfast resolve that she would beat this disease, that a miracle could still happen. And in those last days people streamed in and out of the home, mourning the pending loss of this very special soul.

Stepping into the home, one felt as though time was left at the doorstep. An ethereal energy filled the home as friends and family moved about quietly, realizing the sacred, sorrowful moment that was upon us. And as she shifted in and out of sleep, and gradually into unconsciousness, she graciously accepted all the love with touching words and her beautiful smile for which she will always be remembered.

Chairs lined her bedroom and were often filled with people, some meeting one another for the first time, all sharing in this moving communion of saying goodbye. Songs were sung, lyre and guitar played, inspirational readings read, prayers offered, memories shared and comforting stories told of others’ experiences crossing over. At times people sat silently in prayer. In another moment people joined in to quietly hum “Amazing Grace.”

I have never witnessed such love and caring surrounding anyone’s passing. Amazingly it continued on past her death, since the family consciously chose to have a 72-hour vigil in the home during which time someone was always at her side. This was done to aid in her spirit’s transition and to be of comfort in the grieving process of family and friends.

It was a moving experience I shall never forget, one that leaves a person forever changed. Too often we are isolated from the dying process and our final goodbyes seem too brief and often incomplete. We should all be blessed with such a fond passing where one’s transition is so lovingly embraced, one’s life so beautifully honored and celebrated.

img_7925This is the story of a family’s wish for a home vigil (sometimes called a home funeral).

Deborah passed away Jan 21, 2008 having lived with cancer for over 1 1/2 years. She was the loving mother of two girls, aged 10 and 12, the wife of David. Both David and Deborah wished for a home vigil, so that family and friends could say goodbye in the loving environment of the their home. Community members were prepared and ready to help with all aspects of this care. The article above speaks of a special time two days before her death when Deborah slipped into a coma David contacted friends and family so they could say goodby to their dear friend. Community members came and prepared the home and set the tone for this threshold of death, and for the three day vigil. She died at home in Hospice Care.

See the Home Death Care Section for details about a home vigil, including the support for family, practical aspects of body care, legal guidelines, and working with a funeral home.