• Sarah Hines

The evolution of Deathcare

It’s an exciting time to be involved in the deathcare movement right now. We have many leaders in the industry that have paved a way for our wondering, our activism and our learning. It’s a moment in time where we have our hands full of opportunity! We do however, need to be so careful not only with what is in our hands, but with the consequences of the directions we choose. I am sure that the funeral industry set out with the best intentions, that it was in fact rooted in caring however, today, I think there may be some trust issues that many recovering funeral directors can attest too. Thankfully, some funeral homes are going rogue!

There are lots of great examples of funeral homes offering alternative care options, providing Natural Burial Options, etc. But after all is said and done, they are a business that expects to see profits. It’s not a nonprofit organization –heck, some of them are publicly listed and are responsible to their shareholders for hockey stick profits. But does the change in their industry have to start with them? After all, they are just feeding into and capitalizing on the epic proportions of death phobia in today’s society.

Enter the rise of Death Doula’s in North America. They are doing to the Funeral Industry what Uber did to the Cab industry or what Amazon did to books. They are making death accessible and isn’t that what we need – death to be accessible and important? Death Midwives and death doula’s have been carving a much-needed space for humanity between what the funeral industry standard practice and what we are craving at the time fo death and dying. It’s a ripple that has turned into a wave that is on its way of becoming a tsunami. So much so, we are starting to see a call for policies, and standards and protocols. Some belive this is a great idea! It legitimizes their work! It brings it main stream is a real way!

The Recognition is phenomenal and I must applaud the amazing work of the pioneers of this much-needed work for being persistent, for patience and for everything that they have done to make space for this practice. I do worry, however.

I worry that the Professionaling Death is once again, creating a capitalist market for death. I worry that a “standard of practice” interferes with the “humanness” of dying and that the moment we start adding protocols and standards we are going to see, that the human isn’t the centre of what is important, that the Profession is. I would like to see the us give this more thought, especially here in Canada, where the movement still has a chance to shape what is at the core of it’s being. I would like us forego the idea that this needs to be standardized, that we can be who we need to be when we are needed.

Ultimately, deathcare belongs in the hands of love and I do hope that you get the chance to utilize the wonderfully meaningful services of a Death Doula to be your elder at the time of dying. That your intentions are soaked in learning a skill your ancestors forgot. That you enter this time with the full intention of taking on that role yourself the next time your family is in need.

Because, that’s what we did before the funeral industry decided it was in the business of making profit. Because, you have a legal right and obligation to care for your family and ultimately because your life needs to be filled by the weight of what it means to truly love someone even if they are not physically here for you to prove it.

There will be controversy over these thoughts… I hope there is. We are making ripples in humanity that will last many lifetimes. These are not light decisions and I look forward to wondering out loud with you.

Photo by Ullash Borah on Unsplash



Toronto, ON